Joe Bravo was a cash-strapped college student when he first thought about creating art on tortillas. Years later, his tortilla paintings are selling for nearly $2,000 and breaking gallery attendance records at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Los Angeles, where they are on display this month.
Bravo’s artwork features iconic images of Latino life—Che Guevara, the Virgin of Guadalupe, a tribute to Diego Rivera—all painted on a specially made tortilla, 28 inches in diameter. The paintings are done in acrylic and sealed with varnish, then mounted in a shadow box.
His tortilla paintings have been making quite a stir, but in a Los Angeles Times article Bravo says, “There’s really no industry for tortilla painters.”
Others might disagree. His work has been featured on a podcast for radio program Good Food, as well as on a segment of The Tyra Banks Show soon to air (in it he painted a tortilla portrait of Tyra and guest Hilary Duff). The bass player for the Red Hot Chili Peppers ordered a tortilla painting sight unseen, and McDonald’s has commissioned a portrait of Ronald McDonald to promote the chain’s new tortilla wraps.
Fame and fortune aside, the burning question everyone has is—flour or corn?
Flour, of course. Corn is kind of bumpy.