Monday, May 17, 2010

Serape Asado

In Palm Springs, there is a small family owned Mexican Restaurant called Taco Asado. It’s a no frills kind of place with no character & no ambiance. The food, however, is about the best Mexican food I’ve found in Southern California. One goes to Taco Asado for the food; nothing else. The place is always packed with all the tables occupied and people waiting for carry-out orders. The wonderful aroma coming from the kitchen is enough to make you cry. I go for the ceviche. I first tasted ceviche in Ecuador. Taco Asado conjurors up memories of my first ceviche experience.

Every Friday afternoon, I go to a Mosaic Workshop where I am the lone non-mosaic artist among 10 to 15 serious mosaic artists. I paint and I weave. I made stained glass windows for 20 years and always “wondered” about mosaics. Jennifer Johnson’s studios are three blocks from my house. I thought, “I’ll go for a couple of sessions to see how I like it.” Dangerous thoughts. I joined the workshop in November and have been a regular ever since. I’ve been working on one mosaic design all this time. It can be time consuming. I love the piece I’m working on; the process is laborious. I keep telling myself, “It will be worth it when it’s done.” I keep telling myself.

I discovered that most of the “regulars” at the Johnson Studio workshop are great fans of Taco Asado. At least one of us, if not more eat (not dine) at Taco Asado at least once a week. Taco Asado seems to come up in conversation every Friday. Which got Jennifer thinking.

Jennifer spoke with the owner of Taco Asado and reached an agreement on putting up an art show related to Mexican food and/or Taco Asado. Jennifer presented the plan to the mosaic workshop artists and we immediately agreed to participate. Thus far, there are 10 artists who will be hanging artwork for the show. Ten MOSAIC artists… I have been working on my first (and probably my last) mosaic project for four hours a week for the past six months. I am just about three quarters done with my project. I am not a Mosaic Artist. I am a painter and a weaver who is experimenting with doing a mosaic.

I approached Jennifer and told her I probably would not participate in the Taco Asado project since I’ve been working on my current piece for six months and I doubted I could complete a project in time for a June show. Jennifer said, “Who said it has to be a mosaic?”

Well! Now! That had not occurred to me! I just assumed… Sometimes the obvious is not so obvious. So, I decided that I would create a piece for Taco Asado. Related to food. Mexican food. I weave newspaper. I needed newspapers related to food. I love my local Kroger/Ralph’s store. They are good friends in that they give me lettuce trimmings for my African Sulcata tortoise. I asked the store manager for the expired weekly newspaper printout. They gave me all I could carry! The following week was “Taste of the Tropics” week with all the store employees wearing Hawaiian shirts with sales on bananas, coconuts, mango and other tropical fruit. I picked up the left over flyers the following week.

I now had approximately 800 copies of the same newspaper flyer. Woo hoo! I thought about my time in Tucson. I used to love our drives down to Nogales where we’d walk across the border to shop at the gringo tourist stores. I loved the brightly colored cotton serapes woven in bright colors in seeming random colors. Who purchased these things? I never saw these serapes in anyone’s homes anywhere. I purchased them.

I prepped 120 copies of the flier. That would provide me 120 copies of the same one inch strip of newspaper from the fliers. Images of those Mexican Serapes ran through my mind. One flier produced fourteen strips: 120 copies of each of the fourteen one inch strips. AND I still have well over 600 copies of the flier for future use!

It took nearly two weeks to prep the 120 copies of the flier. After all the fliers were prepped, they needed to be cut into strips. I can cut ten fliers at a time. Any more that than ten becomes unruly. I needed to layer and align 10 copies of the newsprint so that I would have the same portion of the newspaper in all ten strips. Fourteen strips of 10 each; not rocket science but they needed to be somewhat accurate for all 12 sets of 10. It took three or four days to cut the strips. Once cut, they are far more manageable! Thankfully!

Anyone who is a weaver will confirm that the preparation for a weaving is far more time consuming than the actual weaving of the piece. Once it’s designed and ready to weave, the majority of the work is done! Newspaper is no exception. With those serapes in mind I began. Using the same 1 inch strip from 120 newspaper fliers, I wove a 5 foot long strip. Then I added another 5 foot long strip alongside the first. I produced a 30 inch by 5 feet weaving. It was OK.

It was just OK, in my mind.

It was not a perfect rectangle. I wanted it to be a perfect rectangle. The first piece was not a perfect rectangle. They have medication for this, no? I I did a second piece. This one is 40 inches by 48 inches and is a perfect rectangle

Damn! It should have been at least another foot long! Fixated on the proportions of the two pieces, I neglected to notice that each conjures up those cheap Mexican serapes I so loved when living in Tucson. I took my two weaving to Mosaic Workshop. I was focused on the faults. The other artists were focused on the art.

This demonstrates to me how important it is to receive feedback from other artists about one's work. At times, it is difficult to step back from your work and look at it objectively. Other artists understand this and, if they are honest, will provide constructive criticism when asked. What I think about MY work is important; however, other artists' comments will always present another point of view worth considering. I love a good critique.

I will be hanging both weavings for the Taco Asado show…. I’ve named them Serape Asado Uno and Serape Asado Dos…. Join us for our post hanging party at Taco Asado on June 4th. You’ll love the food AND the art.

These weavings are for sale. If you are interested in purchasing or want more information about the artwork you can contact me by responding to this blog or e-mail me at You can contact me via my website: or telephone me at the studio: 760-992-3157.

Thank you for listening,

Jerry L. Hanson

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