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.

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