Pilgrimage to PeruAuthor:Lindsey Shook
Jorge Luis Cruzata is well respected throughout the California design community for his highly curated gallery, Siglo Moderno, which features a mix of contemporary and vintage pieces. Cruzata, who recently embarked on a new creative path to make his own art and furniture, looked to his past to find a deeper connection with his future work and took a magical trip to his family’s native land of Peru for the discovery.
What inspired your travels to Peru?
I had a desire to find deeper meaning in my work by connecting to the true essence of my heritage. I am a native Angeleno of Peruvian/Cuban descent who spent the past decade traveling throughout Europe on the hunt for vintage and contemporary designs for my gallery, Siglo Moderno. The current U.S. cultural climate and the recent loss of my Peruvian grandmother and my father inspired me to visit the two countries, which I had never done before. Growing up I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, who was the source of my creative essence, so Peru felt like a good start to immerse myself in the culture and interpret my experiences into my process.
How did this trip contribute to your work?
In 2010, I founded Siglo Moderno as a brick-and-mortar design/art space on Melrose Avenue. At the end of 2017 I converted it to an online-only storefront, which has allowed me more time to focus on creating functional and nonfunctional sculpture, objects and furniture. I want to spend time creating versus curating.
On this trip I spent time in Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Aguas Calientes. In Lima I fell in love with the district called Barranco, which is historic, soulful, bohemian and creative. Many artists live in this area and in recent years it has become the home to several contemporary art galleries. I traveled through these cities and towns to arrive at Machu Picchu. It was at Machu Picchu where my heart completely transported and connected my senses to a civilization that runs through my veins. The decisions that ancient Incan and pre-Incan civilizations made in creating the functional and nonfunctional objects and structures around them felt raw and primal yet intentional and sophisticated.
In experiencing these ancient artifacts and structures with a contemporary eye the connection, respect and cooperation with “Pachamama” or Mother Earth, was crystal clear and became very important to me. I was really inspired by this past sense of elemental living and connectedness to nature, the cosmos and time.
What was the most significant moment of the trip?
An uncanny moment that replays in my mind to this day was in Machu Picchu, which is notorious for its early-morning haze that creeps in and out throughout the day. Upon arrival, we walked into a thick wall of haze, making it difficult to see the layered mountainous surrounds of the Andes. Our guide took this moment to share historical information with our backs to the site, probably as a distraction. About 10 minutes into our conversation we caught an expression in his eye and a pause in his words so my partner and I turned around as the haze began to evaporate. In the distance a llama stood looking in our direction, turned and then in a gallant glide walked along one of the natural stacked-wall formations of the ancient site. The moment was pure magic.
Did you see any synergies with art in Peru and California?
Peruvians have held on to many of the ancient techniques still used today. It can be seen in their approach to sculpting, carving, fabric dyeing, weaving and use of material. Whether it is work from the few Amazonian tribes still in existence to the work of young artist and artisans, there is an emphasis on longevity versus excess and a desire to connect with something special. I think in this sense I can see a connection to the maker movement that has been happening in California.