Bio & Testimonies


My name is Gabriel Barrera aka ScenicG. I have trained and practiced as a visual artist most of my life. I have worked as a professional Scenic Artist for the last 18 years. Originally from Southern California, I grew up being influenced by my father to be an artist. My father mentored me by providing me with the tools and resources to create art. I completed my BFA in 1998 from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. Because of inequalities and exclusiveness in the art world, I found myself becoming more of a commercial artist and producing for the needs of designers. This transition led me to discover scenic art by working as a scenic painter at the amusement park, Knott’s Berry Farm. This introductory experience led me to apply and get accepted into grad school for theatrical set design. Despite having a bad experience and not finishing grad school, I continued to pursue a role in theater as a scenic artist. My persistence led me to get over-hire work in colleges, small theaters and eventually full-time work at South Coast Repertory. Once at South Coast, I learned many of the skills necessary to thrive as a scenic artist, but at the same time saw disparity in the lack of diversity on and off the stage.

It wasn’t until my employment with Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2008 that my passion for social justice began to integrate into my role as a scenic artist. OSF provided training in equity, diversity and inclusion which further refined and built my analysis around social justice issues related to my job and life.  This embodiment of work has enabled me to lead with confidence in the FAIR program, OSF’s internship program.  FAIR is a professional development program that provides participants with an advanced fellowship, assistantship, internship, or resident opportunity to learn best practices across all administration, artistic, design, and production disciplines within a professional theater environment. I help youth of color thrive, rather than survive, as artists without compromising their identity.  I intentionally reach out to youth of color in the community, and beyond, to develop a diversified workforce within theater production. I attend conferences like USITT and other convenings promoting diversity and inclusion initiatives and engage with youth to advance them into careers in art and theater production. 

Besides mentoring a multitude of organizations and companies, I have narrowed my scope to better serve the local community. My grass roots business, ScenicG, provides workshops and lectures to youth from Life Art, which gives at risk youth in the Medford area a place to practice painting and drawing. I also developed a relationship with College Dreams, which will provide me with future mentees as well as other small organizations 

Leading with my experiences as an artist of color, I challenge the art and theater worlds. Through my mentees work, my own art thrives and reflects their impact and influence upon the artwork created on stage. Together, we create the change we want to see!



Present 2019 OSF FAIR/ScenicG Intern

Present 2019 OSF FAIR/ScenicG Intern

I met Gabriel Barrera at a Career Fair offered by the university I am attending, and offering workshops to further develop one’s skill with scenic art. At the time I was unable to attend his workshops, but luckily for me the next time we met he offered me a great opportunity to improve my artistic skills. With his support I became a production intern at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) which allows me to work alongside of him and other scenic artists. While being an intern and having Gabriel Barrera as my mentor, I am taught how to access different resources to help build new skills. I am receiving an incredible amount of support from him and increasing my confidence along the way. Throughout this internship Gabriel Barrera is helping me challenge myself within my art while aiming to create a more diverse environment. Creating a diverse and more inclusive environment is another passion which we share, and I hope to learn more from him.
— Madelene Maroquin Salazar
2013 OSF FAIR Assistant/ ScenicG Mentee/ Scenic Artist

2013 OSF FAIR Assistant/ ScenicG Mentee/ Scenic Artist

Gabriel Barrera and the Scenic G mentorship program has been a great source of career possibility enlightenment for others and me in the community. Coming from an art background I felt that not many creative careers were present in my community but Scenic G opened my eyes to the possibilities not only in this area but also around the country. It also gave me an opportunity to gain professional development in the field of scenic art and further develop in diversity, equity and inclusion work. This program has helped shape who I am today and has motivated me to continue the cycle and give back to the community. This program has the strong potential to motivate and inspire more youth to follow creative fields and have hope in succeeding in life.
— Jose Rivera, Scenic Artist
2016-2018 OSF FAIR Assistant/ ScenicG Mentee

2016-2018 OSF FAIR Assistant/ ScenicG Mentee

I am a 24 year old scenic artist from Los Angeles, CA who has been drawing for many years under the guidance of many talented individuals and mentors. Throughout my life I have encountered many extremely gifted artists who have not only graciously shared their artistic knowledge with me but have also shared philosophical wisdom with me. One of the most impactful mentors I’ve met in my life who has- in my opinion- molded me into the artist I am today. My introduction Gabriel was brief but would soon later prove to be one of the most significant checkpoints in my drawing career. In November of 2015 I met Gabriel by attending a recruitment class he hosted to bring talented artists aboard his team in Oregon and give them the opportunity to not only gain beneficial experience but become paid scenic assistant’s. After meeting and discussing with Gabriel he saw potential in me and gifted me the opportunity to show my artistic skills off at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Though grateful for the experience he provided, I believe the characteristics and mentality Gabriel revealed to me is what I am most appreciative of. From understanding my artistic boundaries and repeatedly exceeding them to learn certain aspects of being a leader such as being punctual to every occasion. I have adopted many positive traits from him. During the time I met Gabriel in 2015, I was very closed minded in which type of art I wanted to produce or even attempt, but through his guidance I realized I had a passion for scenic art as well as becoming open to challenging myself with different forms of art. Gabriel kickstarted my scenic art career and has helped me achieve an occupation I am not only proud but passionate about. By putting my skills to productive use I believe I am benefiting and influencing my community in a positive way. In the near future I aspire to mentor and impact other artists lives just as Gabriel has done for me and also to pass down the wisdom from previous generations to keep art alive. If not for Gabriel I believe my life would not be as prosperous as it is today.
— Daniel Alexander Perez, Scenic Artist
2013 FAIR Assistant

2013 FAIR Assistant

Before the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the extent of my training as a scenic artist was limited to a small summer stock in Michigan and the short two years I had been in college; while both of these places had given me great counsel and opportunity, there had been something missing from my experiences in theatre. It wasn’t until the summer of 2013 that I would have the incredible opportunity to work with Gabriel Barrera and participate in the FAIR program at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival that things clicked into place.
By the time I attended my assistantship through the FAIR program at OSF, I had been living in America for almost six years. I had become involved in theatre production in high school to take advantage of an opportunity I would’ve never gotten in Mexico. I stuck to it all four years through two different high schools, but I was of one the only people of color in either department. Following high school, I applied and got accepted into a conservatory for theatre arts where I would once again be the one of three
people of color in the program. At my first summer in college, I was hired as an intern
in a small theatre in a beautiful Michigan town; I was, however, the only person of color. 

When I arrived to my assistantship at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, I was incredibly excited to meet that the other FAIR members, who, like me, were also people of color. For the first time, since I had first gotten involved in theatre, I was seeing people of color share success stories, struggles, advice, inspirations, and their culture. It was very inspiring to see young artists and people well into their careers showing incredible ambition and tenacity. In my experience, the FAIR meetings were filled with discussions about race and gender that I had never had with other theatre artists before; this was what had been missing.
Gabriel is an amazing artist, talented and driven, dedicated and lively; he was the first scenic of color that I had ever worked with. For the first time, I was looking up to a mentor who shared an essential characteristic with me. He was welcoming and kind from the beginning; as an artist, Gabriel took me seriously regardless of my experience or my age, something I had never experienced before. He encouraged me to work harder and gave me a safe environment to learn from my mistakes. In the shop, Gabriel trusted me with tasks that other mentors and supervisors hadn’t trusted me with before; this gave me confidence in my skills, I was ready to prove to myself that I could take on these new responsibilities. When it came to learning from mistakes, Gabriel was very patient and understanding.
Theaters and youths all over the country would benefit from leadership from Gabriel because he knows important it is to create diversity and inclusivity in theatre
December 26th, 2018
production. Gabriel is an exceptional example of how a position of leadership and power can be used to see positive changes for our youth. He understands the disadvantages that youths of color face in our industry and he actively works to better those odds through his own teaching and using resources like the FAIR program and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Gabriel became an inspiration to speaking up when it came to issues of race and identity in the following years of my career. I learned from him that it was equally important to involve allies in our conversations; I have upheld these ideas since my time in Oregon, and I apply them at every theater, shop, and company I work for because I would love to help pass on opportunities like the ones I was so grateful to have gotten.
— Ana Maria Aburto, Scenic Artist

2013 FAIR Assistant

I came into the OSF scenic art shop having very minimal experience with large scale scenic painting, but having Gabriel as my mentor through the FAIR program was a true blessing. He, along with his team, was incredibly patient and took the time and energy to nurture me. He saw major potential in my abilities and did not hesitate to continue to let me grow. Upon seeing my growth in his shop, Gabe also learned to trust my skills which gifted me with a massive amount of confidence. It also gave me a sturdy foundation of both artistic skill and resilience.
Not only has Gabe nurtured my scenic painting abilities, but has also encouraged me to find my voice within the theatre world, especially as a woman of color. He continues to support me in my desire to bridge my integrity as an artist with my integrity as a human being; even from a distance, Gabe challenges me to do better by simply leading by example.
Oftentimes, I find myself feeling doubtful of my young and emerging career, but then I remember how much someone like Gabe truly believes in me and it gives me the courage to continue to pursue what I love.
What FAIR and Gabe have given me is an understanding that my life within the arts has trajectory and major value. Without my FAIR experience, I would absolutely not be where I am today, standing proudly with an MFA in Scenic Design, a full time job, while still finding time to freelance design and assist. I’ve come out of this program with a network of support – that I can confidently turn to – that I don’t think I could’ve found somewhere else.

— Leah Ramillano Scenic Design | Scenic Art |

2012 OSF FAIR Assistant

I first met Gabriel Barrera in the spring of 2012 as a senior at Southern Oregon University and FAIR intern. It was my first day and I was extremely nervous, but I soon found out that I had no reason to be anxious. Gabriel is a calm, quiet, well organized leader, as well as kind and patient with his students. As my internship continued, I discovered that behind his calm demeanor, he is a passionate fighter for the wellbeing of his staff and a champion of OSF’s diversity initiative. 

            The FAIR internship allows young artist a chance to dive headfirst into their discipline, learning from a team of talented creators. It gave me the opportunity to use tools and learn techniques that I had never even heard of. Within the first week of my internship, I felt that I had learned as much, if not more than I had learned in four years of college. In the first hour of my internship, Gabriel had me grab a paintbrush and work on the set of White Snake, a show that I watched and marveled at just a few weeks before. The intricate bamboo floor needed to be touched up. Until I stepped onto the stage, I had thought the bamboo was real and not just a mere paint treatment. But Gabriel taught me the technique and trusted me to complete it. I never once felt like I was being given busy work. Rather, Gabriel would give me a project or match me with one of the artists to assist and learn from. He mentored me personally on how to use an airbrush, which is his specialty and something that I had very little experience with. Unfortunately, halfway through my internship, I had broken a bone and needed to wear a cast and use crutches for a month. I was devastated, and thought for sure my internship was over, but Gabriel was flexible and worked with me and set me to work as a props painter. I healed, and continued to learn and grow. As my internship neared its end, I wanted nothing more than to continue working at OSF, but Gabriel encouraged me to travel and learn from other artists in other theaters. Looking back at my career as an artist, it was advice that I will forever be thankful for. 

            I had a chance this past spring to work with Gabriel again in a painting workshop for young theater students. Gabriel is passionate about theater education, especially among minority students. As a mixed-race woman, I cannot stress enough how important a program such as this is. Everybody has a picture in their head of what a person in different careers looks like. A carpenter is supposed to look a certain way. So is a costumer. But thanks to artists like Gabriel, the cookie cutter image of a Scenic Artist is beginning to get fuzzy.  I had no idea scenic artists existed until I reached college, and the students I speak with today are often also in the dark. Gabriel’s program, as well as the FAIR Internship is giving young artists a boost, no matter what they look like. All that matters is their passion and willingness to learn. 

-Roxanne Miftihittin| Designer| Prop Artisan| Costumer| Entrepreneur