|Jose Arpa y Perea, the Spanish colorist, was born in 1858 in Carmona, Spain. He moved to Mexico around the turn-of-the-century making many visits to San Antonio and finally made San Antonio his permanent home in 1923.
During the mid 1930's Arpa returned to Spain. Jose Arpa received his early art training at the School of Fine Arts in Seville, Spain where he received special instruction from the historical painter Dr. Edwardo de la Pena. Arpa won the Rome Prize three times in succession. Four of his canvases were exhibited at the World Fair in Chicago in 1893, as representing the best art of Spain.
Arpa found much beauty in San Antonio, painting scenes of the Texas Hill Country, rivers, wildflowers and the deep blue skies of Texas. He maintained his studio in San Antonio, where he had a wide influence on the arts, locally and throughout the state. His nephew Xavier Gonzalez assisted him teaching Arpa's students drawing.
Jose Arpa entered many exhibits and won many awards and mentions. Contemporaries of Jose Arpa in San Antonio were Julian Onderdonk, Rolla Taylor, Robert Jenkins Onderdonk, Eloise Polk McGill, Dawson Dawson-Watson, Paul Rodda Cook, Harry Anthony DeYoung, Leo Cotton, Tom Brown & others.
He established the Arpa School of Painting in San Antonio in 1923, assisted later by his nephew, Xavier Gonzales, an artist as well. He continued to exhibit frequently, at museums and galleries throughout Texas as well as New York and Spain. In 1926, he began to teach en plein air classes in Bandera, Texas.
In 1927, at the Edgar B. Davis Wildflower Competition in San Antonio, an important national art competition, Arpa won the Texas prize and a purse of $1,000 for his painting of "Verbenas". That same year he opened a new studio at the Vance House on Nueva Street. At the 1928 Edgar B. Davis Competition, Arpa entered "Cactus Flowers", for which he won third prize. In May of 1928 he exhibited landscapes of Arizona and Texas at the Salon of the American Painters, Anderson Galleries, New York. For the next Davis Competition in 1929 and also the last, Arpa exhibited "Picking Cotton" and won first prize.
Arpa later returned to Spain in 1932, where he remained until his death in 1952 at the age of ninety-four.