Every time I drive down Piedras, there is one house that I wonder about. In the yard, the side that faces Piedras, you see some of the most interesting artwork, huge sculptures. I would wonder about those pieces and who created them.
I decided that I had to stop and find out more.
The largest statue is a Buddha-like statue that presides over Piedras and every person who drives by. Robed in vines, seated behind a protective wall of cactus, he sits there, with his birds, watching our lives go by.
While some enjoy the display, for others, the yard can be a scary place.
“He looks hungry,” says Ruben, a rambunctious seven-year-old boy. “He wants to eat me. But he’s cool!”
Ruben’s mom has a different take. “Quite reminiscent of a Tibetan God. Almost seems to be a beneficent spirit.”
Lem Arrendondo has his take on Ho Baron.
“I’m impressed by his humble demeanor, his voice,” Lem says. “There’s an incredible creative force hiding beneath this.”
This and the other statues are the children of Ho Baron’s creative spirit.
Ho Baron was born in Chicago in 1941 and was raised here in El Paso. He’s taught in the Peace Corps in both Nigeria and Ethiopia. After that, he was off to see the rest of the world.
This article, however, is not so much about Ho Baron as it is about his art and the creative spirit. I would love to tell you all about him, but I would rather invite you to visit him on Saturday when his studio-slash-gallery is open to the public.
“I’m primarily a surrealist artist,” says Ho Barron. His works have been referred to outsider art, visionary, abstract, and more. “I don’t fit neatly into the outsider art camp.”
His art doesn’t fit any camp or concept. His work is his own. It comes from deep inside.
“My abstracted figures are neither conceptual nor intentionally intellectual,” says Ho, “but rather a primal expression, the result of a creative drive that transcends the self and my time in history.”
That, I think, sums up the creative spirit. We need to tap into that drive, that spirit that transcends all.
A quote in his book, Gods for Future Religions, and one that I can relate to because of an event from my past reads, “As a creator myself, as a creative person and an artist, I’ve concluded that I, too, am a god. My sculptures are the godly children to whom I’ve given birth.”
The event from my past? When I was younger, I was told the story of how God spoke things into reality, וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, יְהִי אוֹר; וַיְהִי-אוֹר.
“And G-d said, let there be light.” As I child I became enamored with the idea that the stories I told, that I wrote, that I was somehow creating a new world. In a way, being an artist is just like that.
Ho Baron’s art, he says is intuitive. Working with forms and oil-based clays, he lets the forms and his inner spirit guide him
“I work with oil-based clay,” says Ho Baron, “where there is give and take. Unlike carving, where it’s all take. You can see my fingerprints in my work.”
You can also see his soul. It’s from our soul, both individually and collectively, that art blossoms.
His art may not be for everyone. Not everyone will enjoy the primal feelings his pieces evoke.
His art is not academic. It’s not a theatrical construct created to elicit a response from fellow artists or critics. Though, in the case of the latter, there has been much written about his work.
“The point of my work and what it projects,” says Ho Baron, “is intended as a positive visual, a new twist and point of view. My work is not of doom but of newness and in fact of the unity of all. My funny faces are of community. In my three-dimensional sculptural forms, the human parts, the fragments, and faces of are a tangible illusion, a distortion and disfiguration of the crowd, a composite of individuals who are the same, yet each is unique.”
This is what his work projects. I could find a small part of me looking back, considering me, from each piece. That, too, is part of the creative spirit.
The creative spirit is something that we seem to be lacking. Far too often children are being taught the same thing at the same time in schools across the city. Very few allow students license to free expression on whatever project they are working on.
For me, that one teacher was Mr. Wilson over at H. E. Charles Jr. High School. For Kailie Thomas, that teacher is Julian Vidales at Pebble Hills High School.
We are, in my opinion, failing our children by not encouraging their creativity in whatever why they have chosen to express it. We tend to stifle their creativity, for the most part, without even realizing it. We need to celebrate the creative spirit whenever and wherever we find it.
Ho Baron has embraced his creative spirit, as should you. Deep within each of us is a creative force fighting to come out. You are an artist, right where you are.
“Art,” says Ho Baron, “creativity is everywhere. You could be a writer, a cook, a gardener. You just need to let your creativity out.”
Ho Baron’s studio is open on Saturday’s from noon to 5 pm. He’s located at 2830 Aurora, at the corner of Aurora and Piedras. For more information, visit him online.
So, I challenge you, over the next thirty days, create a piece of art, where you are. An amazing plate of food, a painting, even a photograph, and send it to me. I would love to see how you express your creative spirit.
Send me a photo of the work you create, and you could win dinner and a movie, on us!
Submit your work to (firstname.lastname@example.org) All entries must be received by midnight, February 21st, 2018.