Vibrant faces of all backgrounds are featured in David Acevedo’s latest series of works. A Geisha, an African American woman, a Hispanic man—but none of these paintings were derived from a particular person. Acevedo instead began by sketching general features that eventually shaped stories of their own.

Born in Puerto Rico, Acevedo says being exposed to different cultures and nationalities was just a part of his life—one that has no doubt plays into his artistic inspiration at times.

“I come from a melting pot of all sorts of people. I am very much used to being accepting of everybody of every background. I believe we are one world,” he says.

When Acevedo moved to Southwest Florida in 2000 after obtaining his visual arts degree from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus, he recalls it being a culture shock of sorts. He had no connections to the local art world. But his intuitive way of creating became recognized and he was able to establish himself. He cofounded Fort Myers Art Walk and served as a core committee member from 2008 to 2012 and is a current member of The Union Artist Studios in Lee County.

Acevedo refers to his Hispanic heritage as more of an inspirational tool; never something that held him back as an artist in the area. It’s newer artists, he says, that may struggle to gain recognition. But he hopes to diversify the art scene by further supporting artists of all kinds with his latest venture—a cooperative gallery for locals set to launch early this year.

“I’ll be spearheading it and providing a professional gallery space for artists. It’s a big investment but I’m doing it because that’s what I really love to do,” Acevedo says. “If I’m not here at any point at least someone can look back and say this was established by David Acevedo and somehow it helped build the art community of Southwest Florida.”

By promoting other artists, Acevedo is giving the public the chance to experience creativeness from various walks of life. And he says that type of diverse exposure is essential to the community.

“As human beings, we are unique. To embrace, accept and understand our differences is to live in peace and harmony with those that surround us, and to grow intellectually and emotionally,” Acevedo says.