Fine art

What you see is what you get

Pablo Flores culls a vibrant life from the broken and discarded

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The heart and soul of Pablo Flores is out there for all to see. And that’s exactly what he wants, people to see his calling to “work with the discards” of the world.

Born and raised in Alamosa and Desmontes, he creates hugely inviting and successful art with found materials of wood, feathers, fabric, tin cans, plant matter, metal fittings, rusted springs, pot lids, saw blades, rakes, hoes, boots, boxes and billet-doux — basically, anything and everything ever created on God’s green acre, collected from dump sites throughout a 50-mile radius of Taos and Southern Colorado

Showing through August at Taos Cow in Arroyo Seco, the walls are filled with his signature fish, cyborg bugs and bats, bird houses, shadow boxes, hearts, and of course, his famous crosses.

Crosses with angels, and straw, metal blades, an ice cream scooper (that’s not for sale, it belongs to Taos Cow – a big red heart irradiated by rusty nails all round, encircled by piercing, crusty barbed wire and topped with the scoop and halved tin-can lids for the apex and arms of the cross blazing atop the nailed heart).

Another called “White Horse Cross,” also hanging at Taos Cow, is a recycled white horse formerly used as a kiddy ride in supermarket entryway somewhere, mounted on a cross and artfully replete with antlers, a reused metal bit and leather straps.

Not surprisingly, his spiritual life and creative life go hand-in-hand, being just different expressions of the same theme of transformation and renewal. He culls vibrant life out of his own discarded deeds, and those of his flock, using the simple heartfelt tools of acceptance and kindness.

“You Reap What You Sow” is a large cross of distressed barn wood with a giant, round, saw blade painted bright-blue forming the heart of the cross. A halved stew-pot lid forms the arms of the cross which terminates in a wretched, junked hoe blade, painted now with a story of San Ysidro sowing fields in front of a church, all under the gaze of a small angel in the corner.

“I thought of Nadine, my wife, while I was making that,” he said. “She sowed mercy, love and forgiveness. We’re celebrating 40 years this year.” He doesn’t smoke, or drink or cuss, he reports proudly, and gives all the credit to God’s intervention.

“My nickname used to be Pablo Diablo,” he said ominously about his pre-1990 days, “when I was a heavy drug addict and alcoholic.” He says he been straight and sober now going on 27 years.

He was ordained a Pentecostal minister four years ago, though he’s been studying for 20 years. Where he started out with 12 parishioners, he says he now has 50 to 60, with more checking out his ministry every week.

His nine-piece band, Blue Heaven, includes 82-year-old bass player Ralph Martínez (who comes up from Albuquerque every week), his 16-year-old grandson, drummer Jerome Sánchez from Peñasco, and his son-in-law, trumpeter Timothy Sánchez among others. He puts together one song per week on Facebook, “whatever Spirit gives me for that day … It’s all ministry to me, my whole life.”

“That’s what I tell my congregation, all the discarded material – that’s what I did with the trash that was my life, like the trash in the dump – I picked it up and put it on a cross.”

His two churches are the non-denominational Pentecostal Church of God on Hatchery and Siler Roads in Taos, with services every Sunday at 11 a.m. and Wednesdays at 6 p.m. His services at the Córdova Church on the High Road between Truchas and Chimayo are 3 p.m. every Sunday except third Sundays, with a prayer service Tuesdays at 6 p.m.

Flores’ work is represented at Treasures in Taos, 903 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Taja Sanderson said she bought the former Jackie’s Gallery, gutted it and with the help of Flores and friends, remodeled it with found and recycled arts – “an ongoing art project” itself. Be sure to stop by. For information on Treasures, contact Taja Sanderson at (575) 751-0130.

For more about Flores’ various art, music and spiritual involvements, “friend” him on Facebook or call (575) 770-4418.

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