Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tio's Garden of Whimsy

Tio's Tacos is a Mexican restaurant located in downtown Riverside, California.  Although the fish tacos we ordered for lunch were indeed delicious, it was the over-the-top folk art that we came to see. The visionary genius behind these tin men, bottle buildings and mosaic floors is Martin Sanchez, an immigrant from Mexico who moved to Alta California as a boy.  Like all outsider artists, he was born with an insatiable desire to create even though he had no formal art training.  Instead of hauling the bottles, cans and broken glass from his restaurant to the trash cans (like most people do), he filled chicken wire forms with them and one image after another gushed from his imagination.  Before long, he had a whole village of whimsical people behind his little taco stand.  His restaurant was always full!

I seek out these places whenever I travel.  I get it--that urge to create something out of nothing.  My own garden is rapidly filling up with wine bottle borders and broken glass sculptures.  When my wanderlust is finally cured and I am home more than I'm on the road, I want to live out my days in some isolated corner of the world and bring to life all these crazy visions lurking in a head that isn't enirely screwed on right.  These artists are a little mad, aren't they?  Mad, but loveable.  Harmless. Whimsical.  They bring joy to a world that is governed by rules and etiquette and sameness.  Give me a garden of tin men over a perfectly pruned flower garden any day.

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