Inspiration can strike at any time, anywhere, even in the palm of your hand. When Leroy Garcia stumbled upon a piece of jewelry at a local store, he placed the skull-shaped pendant in his hand and instantly, it became his muse. “Most people associate skulls with evil,” explains Garcia, “but to me, they represent mortality and serve as a reminder that we are only here for so long before we, too, become skeleton remains.”
The founder of Blue Rain Gallery is no stranger to the realm of art, yet he tends to keep his own creations and creativity hidden behind the scenes. Garcia has always been closely involved with the conceptualization of ideas and the engineering and production process with many artists represented by the gallery, describing art as “a collaborative event.” For the first time in his career, Leroy presents a 3-dimensional series that tells a story beyond the corporal existence.
The series includes three skulls, entitled “El Macho” (tough guy), “El Fuego” (the fire) and “El Rey” (the king), which is a play on Leroy’s name in French, Le Roi, with the same meaning. Each skull displays more culture and personality than any collection of bones could ever attempt to convey. The sculptures carry powerful names and characteristics that include flames, goatees, bandanas and tattoos written in graffiti lettering across the parietal portion of the skull. Furthermore, these skulls exhibit intentional imperfections and exaggerations, such as an elongated skull and a mouthful of teeth, far more than the average 32. “My thumbprint is even hidden in these sculptures.” Garcia continues, “It’s important to me that these pieces represent the authenticity of handmade art and not something a machine could make.”
Blue Rain Gallery began in 1993 with 95% of the focus centered on Native American art. Since then, the gallery has diversified and grown to represent a variety of cultures including Hispanic influence. “Hispanic art is undervalued in Northern New Mexico,” states Garcia. Which is exactly why the skull series brings forth a contemporary artistic expression of a large part of New Mexico’s community. All three skulls began as clay and evolved into bronze sculptures but Leroy Garcia wont stop there. He plans to create skulls made of lead crystal and glass a few months from now, allowing the medium to convey its own message to the audience. Until then, “El Macho” and “El Fuego” will make their debut at the LA Art Show taking place in Los Angeles, California January 27-31.