Jose Vincente Aguilar was born in San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico in 1924. Aguilar moved to southern California at an early age. After graduating from Hollywood High School, he was in the Army during World War II. He then studied at Otis Art Institute, University of New Mexico, Hill and Canyon School of Arts (Santa Fe), and continued in Los Angeles at the Trade Technical Junior College, County Art Institute, and Art Center School. He specialized in Native American genre before opting for a career in the aerospace industry.
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