The Herradura Barrel Art Project
The Events: Santa Fe & Miami
Tequila Herradura hosted the fourth stop of the nationwide “Barrel Art Collection” competition, at La Fonda on the Plaza in Santa Fe on Sunday, November 3. Max Lehman was among the 10 local artists who created one-of-a-kind artworks using Tequila Herradura’s handcrafted oak barrels for the chance to win $10,000. The event, which was attended by artists, media and influencers, benefitted Creative Capital, a renowned arts organization, dedicated to supporting innovative and adventurous artists nationwide. The organization received a $10,000 donation from Tequila Herradura, to support its Professional Development Program workshops.
Max's piece Juntos Para Siempre was awarded the Santa Fe competition Prize.
Max traveled to the Miami Showcase Event Finale held in December 2013 and his barrel competed in the finale against the winners from the other seven competing markets, where the winner will receive a $100,000 prize – one of the largest monetary prizes in the contemporary world.
The Piece: Juntos Para Siempre
Skeletons are a recurring theme in my work. My fascination with skeletons is primarily from exposure to Mexican culture and immersion in the Punk music scene. I do not see skeletons as representations of death. The Mexican folk artist Alfonso Castillo has influenced my approach to art, in imagery, construction and decoration. He is one of the most highly regarded Day of the Dead artists. For the Herradura Barrel Art challenge I decided to depict a skeletal couple Just Married, ready to spend the afterlife together. The goal here was to transform a real tequila barrel into a piece of fine art, this piece incorporated ceramic sculpture and pop surrealist imagery.
The Process: From Barrel to Art
When Rod Lambert (Santa Fe Community Gallery Director) sent out the call for artists to submit images to the Herradura Barrel Art Challenge I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Being an aficionado of tequila, at least on Tuesdays at Marias, I figured why not I love a good challenge. To my astonishment I was chosen as one of 10 semi finalists local to Santa Fe and received a barrel to turn into an art piece.
My first thought at seeing the barrel was that thing is a lot larger than I thought it would be. The scale and mass of the barrel was almost enough to immobilize me. I decided I had to manage the gravity of the piece that it needed to get off the ground. I looked at a couple earlier pieces of mine that were particularly successful and popular and realized I needed to make a car or train.
Being given the opportunity to work on an actual Herradura tequila barrel was the kind of experience that forces one to think outside of the box. I was eager to try something new but also create a piece that could be recognized as a piece of my artwork, done in my style with techniques that I am well known for. The entire process was a huge learning experience for me and has generated some great ideas that I am sure I will use in the future.”