Paleta Man, A tribute to Tio Lolo & Mr. Urias
From Mexic-Artes Miembros October 2020 Newsletter
Angel Ortega’s Paleta Man (Adeliado Bernabe Urias and Tio Lolo) is a popular altar or ofrenda among museumgoers that visit the 37th annual Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead Exhibition at Mexic-Arte Museum. A sculptural ofrenda, Paleta Man is dedicated to the artist’s uncle, Tio Lolo, and to the ice cream vendor who was killed, Adeliado Bernabe Urias.
A graphic artist, Ortega made her ofrenda primarily of papier-mâché. A skeleton or calaca ̶̶̶ the Fideo Paleta Man ̶̶̶ pushes a cart full of paletas, Mexican ice pops, while holding a paleta in his left hand. The top of the cart features pan dulce, a guitar, a blue-colored Chihuahua, and two framed photographs. One photograph shows the artist’s Tio Lolo, Guadalupe “Lupe” H. Dominguez (1949 ̶ 2020) playing a guitar. To honor her tio, who died of COVID-19, Ortega created a guitar for her ofrenda.
Her now deceased dog, Jojo, displays a framed photo of Adeliado Bernabe Urias, the local ice cream vendor murdered by three youths. Called “Grandpa” in his neighborhood, Mr. Urias was 68 years of age when he died on July 1, 2020. “My Fideo Paleta Man ofrenda is a tribute to those we have lost to Covid-19 and violence against the Latinx community, while reminding us all of the great things that unite our communities,” explains Angel Ortega. She further describes her ofrenda:
"My Fideo Paleta Man is a recurring character throughout my art. After having the idea for many years, it only seemed now was the right time to build so I could pay tribute to Austin Paletero, Adeliado Bernabe Urias, and to street vendors nationwide. Shortly after I started sculpting, my Tio Lolo passed away from Covid-19. To honor him, I added his guitar to the Fideo Paleta Man. I also gave the Paleta Man an alebrije [Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures] to pay tribute to my Chihuahuas who have passed and have provided me with much inspiration."
To create her ofrenda, Ortega first built an armature using PVC pipe, styrofoam, and cardboard. She covered all the figures with papier-mâché and painted them. “Building the Paleta cart was my favorite part,” she recalls. “Even my dad got involved by donating his lawnmower wheels so I could paint them like tomato slices.” She is honored to be included in the Day of the Dead Exhibition at Mexic-Arte Museum. “I’ve been coming to Mexic-Arte a long time, and it has always been a goal to be featured.” Although humorous in appearance, Angel Ortega’s contribution to the Day of the Dead Exhibition pays sincere homage to her deceased uncle and to all the street vendors who have passed away this year.