Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Artists Creating Cultural Capital: Güiro II. News 'n Notes.

Workshoppers Fabricating Functional Toys, Artists Creating Guarneri of Güiros
Michael Sedano

Los Angeles’ Plaza de la Raza hosted the year’s third workshop in the Artists Creating Cultural Capital project organized by Amy Inouye and Margaret Garcia. The Saturday event was the second iteration of the “let yourself be sidetracked by your guiro” Güiro-making workshop led by veteran guiro-maker, Michael Sedano.

Amy Inouye works the perforating station. In-process inventory is staged for the jigsaw and grinding operations.

Every December, Plaza de la Raza hosts the annual Frank Romero Holiday Art Sale, a well-trafficked shopping weekend in the colorful lakeside venue in Lincoln Park. Artists Creating Cultural Capital has a table at the 2019 sale and here’s where the “capital” part of the project gets its name. 

The hands-on workshop took artists through an industrial model to mass produce blank guiros suitable for commodity or fine art conversion. Artists who’ve attended a workshop took home a supply of blank timber bamboo guiros they will finish using pyrography, engraving, sculpting, color, with all the creativity of a raza artist exploring a musical herencia.

The December sale will arrive with a good inventory of twenty-dollar guiros to pick and choose. December sale bargain-hunters are sure to find an abundance of superb gift guiros.

Thanks to the Huntington Library, Guiro-making Workshop II provided marvelous materials for talented artists to do art with. Gente with an eye for fine art will take home a personal gift, one's own Guarneri of Guiros.

Salvador Correa and Anthony Correa evaluate an in-process guiro. Amy Inouye and Margaret Garcia jigsaw sound holes.

Timber bamboo is a horticultural wonder. If you plant it, it will grow and grow and grow. San Marino's The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens grows world-class bamboo that, as a guiro-maker, I've long admired. Staff at the ticket window had no idea how I could get some bamboo, but the service-aware workers gave me a name “who might be able to answer” my question.

An exchange of emails, a couple of phone calls, and I was invited to come on down Tuesday, when the gardens close. I met Arturo at the lily pond where Timber Bamboo grows ten, twenty feet tall with 4+ inch diameter canes. "Take your pick," the supervisor invited.

Up at the foliage level branches intertwine and the cut cane becomes a massive chore to extricate. I selected two canes at the periphery of the clump. Arturo chainsawed them and easily dropped them to the ground. “No quieres más?” he wanted to know and yes for sure I wanted mas but ahorita no.

Vandals find bamboo surfaces irresistable. Arturo shrugs off pendejismo but gladly cuts
one of the damaged canes. The artist can incorporate or emend the placas.

“Qúe 'stan haciendo?” the pickup truck driver called. Otro Mexicano doing garden maintenance. I went over and showed him the guiro I’d brought. The driver took the striker and began getting sidetracked by the infectious guiro. I invited him to the workshop but he didn’t show up.

Saturday’s early-rising workshoppers were duly impressed to be working with Huntington wood. I am ever-lastingly grateful for the acquisition experience. It’s the first step of the workshop theory, acquire timber bamboo from a property owner, just knock on the door. 

As Arturo, who’s been with Huntington Library fifteen years, was driving me back to my car, we passed the world’s most gorgeous stand of timber bamboo. It’s showcased at the entrance to the collections. “Sure, next time we can cut some of that,” Arturo said.

Arturo works the cane loose and places it gently next to the other. Dried by nature for
unknown years, the 10-foot lenght of timber bamboo weighs a few pounds.

With raw material in hand, the creating part of Artists Creating Cultural Capital arrived at nine in the morning surrounded by festive vendor booths for a health fair. I set up the assembly line indoors, a last-minute adjustment to an outdoor plan.

With the right tools you can do anything. That’s a motto my Dad taught me, and I live by it. That is never more true than when cutting timber bamboo. Plaza’s man-of-many-means, Gabriel, found a chop saw in Frank Romero’s studio. We separated our Huntington bamboo in minutes. The first workshop, I brought hand-held rotary saws that intimidated the painters, were the wrong tool, and we did not finish the task.

A light-weight drill and a new 1/2" spade bit make fast work of perforation. 

I designed the guiro workshop after an industrial model I used in my days in an automotive window assembly line: artist harvests bamboo, divides into N segments of closed-end tubes; perforates each tube through-and-through with four ½” holes; joins perforations with jigsaw forming sound holes; grinds raspa surface; cut a compatible striker from waste bamboo. Ear test.

The penultimate process is working the unworked bamboo surface to do art. Quick and dirty burning or engraving produces a twenty dollar guiro. Take your time with the same material and create a masterpiece.

This workshop is mass-producing blanks intended to sell for twenty dollars each. We caught a break. The Huntington Library bamboo has quality suitable to fashion Guarneri-level artistic Guiros. I call them “your hundred-dollar guiro” and artists recognize the possibilities in that hollow tube that minimally worked already easily attracts twenty-dollar bills. Just imagine--that's what artists do for a living.

Salvador Correa grinds his raspa. Stu Rapeport jigsaws a green-bamboo blank.
As a corporate safety officer I would have a word with the foreman on this
work station. Never operate power tools without eye and hand protection.

A finished guiro has been sanded smooth, tung oiled, and polished. The fine art ones will come in keepsake packaging with a care & background pamphlet, and a certificate of authenticity. 

At December's sale, the Artists Creating Cultural Capital table will be strewn with twenty-dollar guiros and strikers, first-come first-sidetracked by their own locally acquired renewable resource holiday toy and fully functional musical instrument hand-crafted by local artists. That's a mouthful. 

The hundred-dollar guiros will be displayed, handle with white-gloves and so irrestible, you’ll want all of them. They do make wondrous gifts.

José Lozano teaches drawing at Plaza de la Raza on Saturdays. He was in the space next to our guiro workshop so he took a few bamboo tubes to sharpie pen some designs. Someone good with a Dremel tool or a wood-burning point can follow the lines and create a piece José can sign. Margaret Garcia took one of José's blanks.

José Lozano provided a number of sharpie designs to be Dremel tooled or burned.

Locally acquired…” is a mouthful and it’s important. The ideal result of the project is artists training underemployed or unemployed people to manufacture local alternatives to imported plastic materials, while producing income. With inventory, after that, it's marketing.

Christmas and Hanukkah have turned into blizzards of petrochemical waste, and parents are resisting. Gente seek sensible toys to give a kid. That’s the output of the Artists Creating Cultural Capital project, AKA “The Toy Project.” Garcia and Inouye are bringing artists together to make toys from natural, renewable materials. So far, there’s a wood paletero cart and Saturday’s timber bamboo guiro. Upcoming are a string-pull segmented doll and a Dreamer Butterfly. 

Salvador Correa sidetracked by an in-process güiro.
December's Romero Sale at Plaza de la Raza  will have numerous designs coming out of these workshops. Toys to delight the kids, arte to engage collectors, and of course this year, güiros to let yourself be sidetracked.

Let yourself be sidetracked by your güiro
Carnal let yourself be free
To do your music when your heart pounds
In the melody of your ringing ears

News 'N Notes From the Mailbag
Houston, TX

A big La Bloga ¡Órale! to Leslie Contreras Schwartz, Laureate.

La Bloga friend, el librotraficante Tony Diaz has a literary version of cultural capital ongoing. For information on the Texas happenings, click here.

Chicago, IL

1 comment:

Antonio SolisGomez said...

well done em- great idea for a workshop. btw arturo flores has a great stand of bamboo that has been growing on his property since the early 1950's. 323-221-2053