Saturday, December 3, 2011

I'm A Prostitute

Ok, now that I have your attention, let me explain. Back when I was in school, the second time around...was called "a returning student," which means old fart. Anyway, many of my art professors advised us as to how make our art and make it our own, carefully making a rep for ourselves and being "recognized" for that work. Most of my profs followed their own advise, teaching what they knew best, except my ceramic prof...he got into all kinds of weird clay involves at all. I wonder if he was affected by one of his patrons who hung up one of his "donuts" in her black and white bathroom...the poor guy was really embarrassed during the tour of this pretentious bitty's house. However, his openness to other materials, made it easier for some of his students to work on other mediums, such as moi. He hated mixed media....don't know why, but didn't really care because I incorporated all kinds of stuff into my ceramic pieces.

Years ago, in my previous life, I was a folk artist. I learned how to do folk painting when I lived in Germany. I took a Baum Maleri course from one of Southern Germany's masters, or that's what he told us. Anyway, I learned all kinds of folksy painting techniques and made all kinds of cutsie stuff. When I returned in 1979, there seemed to be a wave of this kind of painting found in many art shows. Well, I decided it was time for this gal to jump on the band wagon. So I made all kinds of wooden paintings, first straight Baum Maleri, then I branched out to other subjects. About 24 years ago, the local museum on campus at UTEP, the Centennial, had a great exhibition on retablos and ex-votos, religious paintings. I was hooked. This began my journey into iconic art, not the Russian or Greek, but my own.

When the Spaniards were exploring around these parts, they brought a lot of their talents with them, painters, silversmiths, etc. The silversmiths taught the indigenous folks how to make jewelry and other functional work and when the churches were going up, they painted these religious figures on wooden tablets, ya know, kind of like St. Francis of Assisi did...most people in the proto-Renaissance didn't read so he figured out a way for the village people to learn their Bible studies, by painting frescoes on the interior walls of churches. Anyway, the retablos have a very specific style...Google them and you can see what I mean and take a look at what the present day New Mexican artists are doing...many have maintained the old style, even making their own pigments out of the local flora and fauna and minerals. However, I love what the contemporary religious artists are doing and therefore, I set my course and veered into that direction.

I also began making cutsie Christmas ornaments out of wood, little brightly coloured angels, Santas, get my trend. I was invited to huge show in San Angelo,'s right smack in the middle of TX and out in the middle of nowhere. I recall having to get of the Interstate and taking all these little back roads, passing one little pathetic town after another; they were once prosperous during the oil boom, but now just skeletal remains of mules and riggs dot the landscape. So we drive up into this little gem of a town, bustling with lots of action. We drove to Fort Concho, an old army post turned into a tourist spot, and I was very fortunate enough to be housed in one of the lovely little row houses that had once been occupied by the officers and their families. We set up, by we, I mean the ex and me, and were ready for the next few days of sells. The doors opened at high noon that Friday of Dec. 1, 1994 and I was overwhelmed by the attention my work received. I had people coming up to me telling me they "collected" my work...collected????? I was being collected?????!!! I had been discovered while selling my art at this little shop in Cloudcroft, NM, about 2 hours up the road and that's how I got the juried invite. So the whole experience was not only quite profitable, but very humbling. I made approximately $3K that weekend and was ready for the following year, which never happened. By 1995, my marriage was in the toilet, and I was being blamed for spending far too much time on my art work...suppose someone has to be blamed for others indiscretions, so I stopped doing art all together...he had stolen my joy. Of course after a few years of therapy, I realized I let him steal my joy!

So back to what I was explaining...I'm a prostitute, an art prostitute!!! While in school, I loved making all these really fun, whimsical things...wasn't going to waste my time or money on making ugly yard art, that's what I called it and told my profs I was to damn old for angst, so they left me alone!! LOL My ceramic prof kept telling me I was a folk artist...I told him politely he was full of it...was never going back there again...just too painful, and besides, I was being professionally trained....WHATEVER!! So what can I say, my prof was right and I've finally gotten over myself and have resumed making "cutsie" art. One reason being is that is sells, hence the prostitute aspect of all of this, and two, I actually have been enjoying it.

One reason for this sudden epiphany, is that I've got someone representing my work in a shop up in Ruidoso, NM. When I explained some of the work I do, she was interested in the folk art stuff, which I really hadn't made in a while, but I told her I used to do that. So she asked me to send her photos of some of my work, I did, and she fell in love with the red, chile ristra, of course she did!! Ruidoso and Cloudcroft are more geared towards, what I call, white bread art...they haven't gotten the word that there's lots more to NM than ristras, howling coyotes and Kokopeli...oy! Actually, they're quite passee, but they still love selling them to people from other parts of the country and foreigners who feel these symbols are representative of NM...dear lovely Linda, you know what I'm talking about???!!!??!?!????!!!

So I've been making ristras out of polymer clay and setting them on folk art inspired painted pieces of wood. Also made some little angels and Virgen de Guadalupe for another little shop. I know most of you know me for my dolls and Dia de los Muertos artwork, but it's time to expand, even if it's familiar. However, I do have some training under the belt now and the stuff I used to make all those years ago are different...same templates, but different chapter. So below are samples of what I've been making:

My little paintings, almost complete...have a bit more to do with them then add the wire hangers. (NO WIRE HANGERS!)

More little chiles ready for the oven....

And here are the wooden boards...still have to paint them before adding the ristra.

Also, my niece strongly advised me not to post her lovely face on FB, so instead, I'm posting it here. Actually, I want to show you an example of a chili infused abode, my brother, Fred's house...he lives in Las Cruces, NM and he loves all that is "chile", looks great too!! Also, my brother, Fred, both photos taken at Thanksgiving.

Also, can you guess what this is???

Talking about artwork....look what God left me this morning on the back window of my car...had to hurry up and take this pic since the sun was coming up.

Well, folks, it's time to take it to the couch, as the late, great Dean Martin used to say at the end of his show. Have lots to do and already scheduling my month...the Diaz Bake-o-Rama begins in two weeks...looking forward to making my bischochitos and Mexican Wedding cookies or as my grandson call them, liar cookies. Two years ago, Ian and I spent Christmas in Austin with my daughter. I made the Mexican Wedding cookies, but told my boys that in Italy they're called Liar Cookies...when asked why, I told them to eat one, then if anyone asked if they had eaten any and they denied it, the proof was on their shirts...told them to go to the bathroom and look in the mirror at their shirts...powdered sugar...they thought that was hilarious and they've called them by that name since. Have a great weekend, don't stress so much about the coming season, just motto, "If it don't get don't, it don't get done!" Peace out.


Linda in New Mexico said...

Oh I laughed and empathized with your "angst". I too took my self way to seriously and was humbled by people asking for the real stuff from me. I liked my high brow bullshit but oh well. Money is money and I couldn't wear a g string anyway to make money so this will do. Right???? I do know what you are taking about with the ristras, howling dogs and flute playing hunch backs. If it gets it done then okeeeedokeee. I always have to chuckle when "outsiders" think they have NM pegged by what is marketed in Fantase Island and the Hum if. But then I can't be nasty, many, many people have fallen in love with NM for it's real Oh hell can you tell I have my fiesty panties on today? love ya girl, Linda

Gloria said...

What a great story Georgina. I love your ristras and working with wood is such a fun thing. My husband has been chopping down old trees and before he took them to the dump I had him cut out some round/oval pieces to paint on. So now I have about 15 pieces of awesome wood from the trunks of old aprcot, pines, and I think a cypress. I love NM and you are so lucky to be close by. Good luck with all your fab work and take care.::hugs::

Sue J said...

I always enjoy your posts. They are so chatty and entertaining. Love the little ristras.
Have a wonderful Christmas :)

Yve said...

The thing is, this whole holier than thou, pretentious "art for art's sake" attitude is relatively recent. Leonardo and all the great masters were prostitutes too, they made art to eat and had wealthy patrons they kept happy. The whole "starving in a garrett thing seems to have started around the time of the Impressionists, VanGogh never selling a painting, etc... if he had sold enough to pay his way I doubt he would have killed himself and would have left a much older corpse with two ears.

It's all very well for Art College lecturers to pontificate on what is and isn't ART, but they are prostituting themselves by being lecturers in the first place. They might like to give the impression they have a vocation to teach or felt they really had to "give something back" but let's be honest, they are lecturers because they get a regular pay check and can pay the bills.

The only real way to be an artist is to be true to yourself and not give a toss what anyone else thinks. But you know that already ;o) Yve x

oldblackcatboo said...

I totally get the "prostitute" thought but if you are enjoying it....I'd wouldn't say that you are one! That's more when you are going through the motions and just can't wait until you get the cash! LOL! Nope you are more like a mistress. :D
The Folk Art Mistress.
and you are creating and in big demand. That's what counts!
I've been struggling with "stuff" myself, maybe it's just a mid-life crisis but...I'm vowing to stop thinking about it so much and just do it.
Luv ya, Cindi

amy said...


you slut :)

i'm quite a slut myself.

oh, you'll pay me for this?? i'll make quite a few more, thanks...


Saschi said...

very cool stuff georgina! very cool!
georgina, you have so much energy! i bet your a real hoot when you're tipsy! and i bet you make for some interesting convo when partaking in the mojo..............
but what would i know about that stuff? uh........ yeah.......what would i know.

yoborobo said...

Hey G! I was seriously hoping to hear of your late night trysts - dang! As for fine art vs. folk art, life is too short to worry about any of it. And I wish I could say I was making money, but alas, no. I am barely paying for art supplies! LOL! You always make me smile, amiga! xox Pam

PS Love the new pieces!

Janine said...

Oh Georgina, your posts are the best.
It´s wonderfull to read so much about your life, your time in Germany yozr studies and expiriences.
It´s great that you found your way back.
I googled the retablos and I am thrilled. Thy are so aweome!!!
I saw some simular pieces in Cuba but,the mexican retablos are even more colourfull-
I hope you have a great ime.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

Designs By CK ★ said...

Wishing you & yours a most magical holiday season Georgina!


CK >:-)