Written in Stone

Francisco Sotomayor wants to 'Wow' the art world.

For the moment, Francisco says, he's content to have admirers wander in from the streets and on the Web. In fact, he insists, he prefers an audience of plumbers, housewives and schoolkids: Today's artists have lost touch with everyday people and everyday concerns.

"The modernism of today is just an -ism of the arts," he says. "The best artwork has to relate to an individual on a humanistic scale. Yes, a blue painting can be a blue painting, but it doesn't relate to an individual as more than just a blue painting. The beauty of my art is that the public can understand it without an explanation. My art approaches the American public in a way that is not this elitist mentality that needs an art critic to tell them why it's art. I'm a hardworking blue-collar individual. I'm down in the trenches working thousands of hours to complete a sculpture. People can relate to that. They can understand it. They work hard themselves. They want to see hard work. They want the 'Wow' factor."

And he plans to wow them some more with wholesome, romanticized studies of the human figure. Francisco's already well into his next piece, "American Woman." "It represents the epitome of the American woman at the 21st century," Francisco explains. "The kind of woman who wants big eyelashes, plucks her eyebrows and wants big puffy lips. What every woman wishes they could be. But I didn't want it to be Julia Roberts or a specific woman. I wanted it to be a composition of multiple women. A little bit of Madonna. A little bit of Marilyn Monroe. I didn't want it to be vulgar. She's not a Playboy bunny. She's not a modern-day stick of a model, either. She's a waitress. A blues singer. The girl next door."

Francisco Sotomayor, the $3.85 million man.
James Bludworth
Francisco Sotomayor, the $3.85 million man.

Literally.

"The model used to live a few houses down," he says. "I made 32 drawings of her, and her pay was to pick one out."

Not only will "American Woman" surpass "Pas de Deux" in vision and design, he says, but it will present technical challenges as well, such as "balancing five tons of weight on three spindly legs." The figure will also include features never before seen in marble sculpture. "Eyelashes," Francisco says.

Once "American Woman" is completed, Francisco will leap into a "life-sized male figure leaning back on this really cool American bike," he says. "What it will represent is James Dean. Marlon Brando. Peter Fonda in Easy Rider. Arnold Scharzenegger in Terminator. He's going to have one hand on the throttle, and, like the David sculpture, he's going to be looking toward the future. It will be called 'American Bad Ass.'"

And like his other work, it will be done in the "Americana," style, he says. Or "neo-realism," or "American neo-realism," or "high American realism," or "just high-realistic marble sculpture."

"Or Americanism," says Mindy, Francisco's wife.

"Something like that."

"Or Americana-ism."

"There you go."

But no matter what you call his style, Francisco promises that plumbers, housewives and high school kids can count on finding one thing in his work: It will definitely have the "Wow" factor.

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