Art Gives New Flavor to Tortillas

By Ashley Schofield

Tortilla soup, tortilla con huevos, fried tortillas; the
majority of people have tasted tortillas in different dishes.
Artist John Bravo cooks up tortillas in a whole new manner.

Bravo concocts impressively large tortillas served with a side
of acrylic paint. He smears tortillas approximately 28×28 inches
with vivid colors to express his societal, cultural and religious
views.

Bravo’s art show kicked off the Xicano Latino Heritage
Festivities Month’s cultural celebrations on Tuesday. The tortillas
will be showcased in the Bronco Student Center for the entirety of
May.

While studying in college, Bravo had no money to buy canvas, so
he was forced to get creative.

“One morning I was cooking a corn tortilla, saw it’s durability,
and thought it would be worth it to try,” said Bravo.

After that morning, Bravo’s next project was a hanging mobile
consisting of his painted tortillas. He did one exhibit, but
inevitably the tortillas did not last long. Playing with varnishes,
Bravo has created a science to preserve his pieces.

Progressing a long way from experimental beginnings, Bravo now
has tortillas made exclusively from a factory, custom-made frames
to protect his work, and has become a distinguished, influential
artist in Los Angeles.

“I found Bravo in a book and e-mailed him to come to Cal Poly
for the May celebrations,” said Jennifer Vargas, a third-year
marketing student and program coordinator of the Cesar E. Chavez
Center for Higher Education. “I saw it online and thought it was
cool, but to see the actual tortilla in person is powerful.”

The vivid colors and contemporary matter on the tortillas entice
the eye. Che Guevara, gangsters and pit bulls represent the wide
range of subjects Bravo depicts.

“I use my own interpretations of playing off things such as
icons, tattoos and movies,” said Bravo about using creativity to
spin his daily occurrences.

Students seemed to enjoy the unique form of art.

“How does he do it on a tortilla? I want one for my house,” said
Amy Aparicio, a third-year communication studies student.

“It’s amazing,” said David Celaya, a fourth-year fine arts
student. “[It’s] a new canvas. It’s cool that it’s all about
Mexican heritage.”

Despite twisting his artwork with his own flair, Bravo depicts
realistic pieces that appeal to cultural emotions.

“I love it,” said Maximiliano Cabellos, a fourth-year political
science and gender, ethnicity, and multicultural studies student.
“[It is a] different form of art other than [what is] accepted. [I
like the] creativity found in expression of Xicano culture.”

Bravo’s artwork takes a strong stand and is hard to go
unnoticed, but the core of his art motives is to display his
passion in life.

“There are cultural overtones and connotations trying to relate
to the tortilla,” said Bravo. “Some [pieces] are serious, but I
have fun with it. My favorite piece is the ‘bite me’ pit bull.”

Bravo appeared to be content in the ability to have fun with his
work. As he sat behind a table signing small posters of his
tortilla art, students seemed to be ignited by his zeal.

Tortillas could be considered Bravo’s true passion as he admits
his favorite dish is mole enchiladas.

Ashley Schofield can be reached by e-mail at
arts@thepolypost.com or by phone at (909) 869-3744.

Company Swings Night Away

The Cal Poly Ballroom Dance Company performed a variety of dance styles Friday night

Company Swings Night Away

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