Monthly Archives: September 2012

Loteria Number Three: La Pitonisa (The Fortune Teller)


With the completion of El Organillero, I officially had four of my five pieces set, and just needed to settle on a design for the last sculpt. I’d been kicking around a couple of lucha-inspired throw-ins, as well as some more Victorian-inspired fare; however, with nine days left, that need to once again kick and punch at the edges of my previous design experience started doing their thing.

And this, of course, led to a series of increasingly ambitious (see: dumb) decisions that culminated with the creation of Loteria Number Three: La Pitonisa.

It should be noted here that I am not—and let me repeat that, with a gratuitous degree of italic emphasis: not—anything resembling a woodworker. I can barely cut a straight line with a jigsaw, and the previous cabinet and wall-mounted creations that I’ve dabbled in have consisted of more pine putty than actual plank-age. So the fact that I apparently figured that a ridiculously intricate wood-and-glass-housed calaca was something that REALLY needed to happen is, in sad admission, totally par for course.

Miraculously, however, the design actually worked. It consisted of a ton of basswood strips and half-finished sections being laid out, cussed at and then re-worked, but—with just two days to go until shipping time—I was actually in damn fine shape. Painting took another day and a half (Again, my hands are limited in terms of what they can do with a brush… and of course, my day job opted to become absolutely savage over the course of that 48 hours), and I was still curing the glue when it came time to start packing the pieces up in their little cardboard shipping coffins, but I had done it. I’d accomplished something that was, in acknowledgment of my limited skills, really flippin’ cool.


And then, of course, it happened.

I looked up from filling a box with packing peanuts, just in time to catch a single, solitary bead of what appeared to be Gorilla Glue lazily teasing a slide down the inside of the center plexiglass pane. I made a sound sort of like an ostrich chick (presumably) and lunged for the piece, fumbling for my Goo-Gone and a clean paper towel. The top of the casing needed to be cut loose, but—by Godfrey—I managed to get the glue before it hardened. Sagging with relief, I replaced the lid portion and re-fixed it, before touching up a few cracks and chips with a new coat of paint.

And then, of course, it happened. Again. I glanced up and realized that for some reason that I can only assume was chemical or karmic in nature, the Goo-Gone had somehow dried onto the glass in a single, hideous smear.  It had only lifted the glue itself, but had apparently fused with the rest, which resulted in this:

Q-bert: @#&?!

“Oh, it’s not so bad,” I muttered. “I can still do this.”

And so I carried on. I made it about halfway to the post office before abruptly kicking myself in the ass, the recognition coming on in fast and loose fashion that the Folk Tree merited nothing less than THE best. Smear or not, the piece was flawed; consequently, it found itself completely gutted from the waist up, new glass and wood fashioned to fit the design, and—a day later than I’d hoped for—snatched up by our friendly neighborhood PO-folks and shuttled on its way.

If nothing else, this entire debacle was a great indication of how my artistic mentality has changed in the last year, or so. Time was that a splatter of paint or a hairline crack were worth a quick patch-up with glue and an assumption that whoever received the sculpt would know better than to tug on its head too hard… but now and again, I’ve proudly taken that possibility to the chest, and treat every potential flaw as something to be considered and bested during the design phase.

… pay no attention to that dope in the reflection.

It’s not worthy of being called a brand yet, but it feels like it’s getting closer and closer by the day.

Loteria Number Four: El Organillero (The Organ Grinder)


So, after about a year of being outward bound and completely consumed by an ongoing junkie-trip with work, I find myself not only slowly reeled back towards the bedrock of artistic expression, but—bim, bam, zap—also, this blog. There’s a lot of water to tread in going through the wheres and whats of the last fourteen months, but rather than commit an undue amount of text to yammering on about such, I think I’ll just nip straight to the nines and share a bit about what’s currently cluttering up my workshop display shelves and the too-cramped interior of my skull.

First and foremost is the matter of The Folk Tree. For those of you who aren’t privy to the cultural hotspots of my one-time hometown—Pasadena, California—The Folk Tree is an imports and folk art shop located just a few blocks removed from the ol’ Route 66 arterial of Colorado Boulevard.

Actually, let me amend that: it’s not “an” import store. Rather, it’s the import store. If there exists a shrine to the greatest of the Oaxacan arts that rivals this particular shop, then I’ve never seen it; it’s an unequaled emporium for the lover of the Mexican folk arts, which—in an area which is stewed in the glory of said culture—is really saying quite a bit. The Folk Tree’s annual dia de los muertos exhibition is as close to a Super Bowl/Pimms Cup/Video Armageddon as exists in this artistic sub-set, and so I was mildly shocked when they responded favorably to including my work with that of fifty other blank-shot brilliant creative talents. I wanted to buckle down and make a serious go at expanding my profile and bettering my work, but I didn’t expect to start at the contextual nose-end of Mount Crumpit in terms of making that happen.

In any case, this brought out the defining question of the last two weeks: what makes the proverbial cut, when it comes to the five works that I’d be contributing? I just rolled out the Loterias label a month or so ago—a more traditional brand of sculpture, having decided to get over geekery commissions for the time being; they maintain an excellent profile in terms of notice but do gash-all when it comes to actually selling—but this show requires more than simply shrugging off existing inventory. It demands something ambitious, something that captures that suitably smack-dab line between the creepy and comedic, and something which will stand out in an exhibition absolutely sagging with the crema de la crema.

So I thinks to myself: how about something relating to an organ grinder? That’s culture-ready, speaks to the kitschy Victorian and the essentially Latin (being that Mexico City is one of the few locales on the face of the planet where this particular street-show fare is still a viable trade).

Then I suddenly get an odd, dull spark of recollection, which brings me to this…

Tamra, Tamra, Tamra. If there’s a standard of brilliance for this form, then you’ve met its equal at the link above; she was one of the most supportive voices in encouraging my own commercial work, and—in a genre which is littered with sub-par crap, undersculpted junk and plenty of “hey, put some skull paint on that thing, and it’ll be DAY OF THE DEAD-Y!”—she commands a level of respect that’s absolutely unparalleled.

She also apparently has the same malformed sense of humor that I do, since we wind up skidding around in the same circles in terms of our subject matter. Circus freaks? Yes. Creepy clowns frightening children? Yep. Organ grinders? Oh, f’sho.

In any case, I would sooner chop off a toe than replicate anything that was done by Clay Lindo (and done perfectly, it might be added), so I went back to the drawing board. Which, in this case, apparently just involved standing on my head and turning things around in a very slight creative clockwise direction…


Ta-da. Professor Lurio and his partner in panhandling, Mono Joe.


The idea of a giant organ-grinder monkey was admittedly not some stroke of random inspiration, but actually owes itself to last year’s Halloween celebration; that would be me on the left, and—in a giant Day of the Dead monkey costume—my younger sister.

But in any case, this does well in demonstrating how those creative cogs can click and clack, resulting in a deluxe Loteria entry that turned out to be surprisingly easy to sculpt… unlike the OTHER mondo piece that wound up being created for The Folk Tree show.

Which I will be happy to gripe about in over-verbose fashion in very short order.