MY FAVORITE PIECE: Mini-gallery at office cultivated love of artwork

ATLANTANS TALK ABOUT THE BEST-LOVED WORKS IN THEIR COLLECTIONS

Background: Rene is president of Diaz Foods, a grocery wholesale business that imports food from Latin America. The company grew from the first Latino grocery store in Atlanta, which was opened by his grandfather, Domingo Diaz, at Sixth and Peachtree streets in 1969.

The Diazes began collecting art about seven years ago after running into an artist at an event for a local nonprofit, the Mexican Center of Atlanta. "Don't you know me?" the artist asked Rene. Diaz didn't recognize the artist, Pedro Resendiz, who, as it turned out, worked nights at Diaz Foods.

"Here's this guy who has a master's degree from the University of Mexico and is working on a second degree in art at Kennesaw State, and he's working nights for me pulling orders," said Diaz, who decided right then to help the artist. He found a large blank wall at his corporate headquarters to hang Resendiz's work. That grew into a small art gallery with a curator selecting works by various local Hispanic artists. "We sold six or eight pieces," said Rene Diaz, who plans to start the gallery again after settling into the company's new offices.

Collecting focus: The Diazes collect works by Latino artists, both local and international.

Favorite piece: "Escaparte," (Escape) by Trini, dated 2006, purchased from Naomi Silva Gallery in Atlanta. Trini, who goes by one name, is originally from Belgium but has lived and worked in Mexico City for 22 years. She's known for brushy, slightly abstract acrylic-on-canvas city scenes.

Why they like it: The urban feel, and the shadowy images of men in suits walking with their backs turned. The man in the foreground is carrying a briefcase. "It's as if he has just worked a 10- or 12-hour day and is going home to escape," said Rene, who's known for working long days himself.

Where it's displayed: In their living room, where it lends a contemporary feel to the very traditional decor.

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