For metal artist John Xóchihua, creating a new piece usually leads to an entirely different product line in his always growing lineup of offerings. “I have a hard time staying in one category,” he says. “I made trellises, for example, which led me to an interest in stone slabs. Seeing how beautiful the stones looked when they were wet got me interested in doing water features.”
Xóchihua (“so-chee-wa”), who grew up in the Portland area, studied graphics technology at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, Ore., and worked in electronic prepress for several years before turning to art full time. “In school, I was always interested in art, but I was also worried about becoming a starving artist,” he says. “I moved slowly from graphics to art. I built a studio, started collecting tools and put together the things I’d need to make art for a living.”
Now he spends his days designing and making garden features, furniture (that’s his coffee table on p. 14) and sculptures as Aztec Artistic Productions Ltd. He makes many of his sculptures from pieces of scrap metal, usually scrap steel. “For one of my first commissions, I needed something laser cut,” he says. “I was waiting in the shop, looked down and saw all these cool pieces of scrapped steel. They let me take them, and I’ve been working with reclaimed material ever since.”
To make Atomic, an outdoor sculpture, Xóchihua first welded the rings together, but he wasn’t satisfied that the piece was complete. “The sphere needed to be elevated,” he says. “I’ve always liked things that are angular, and I thought the angles of the scrap steel pieces would make a neat juxtaposition with the sphere. I welded the pieces together and twisted them, so the piece has a curve as it meets the sphere.” The 8-foot-tall statue, which sits on a 32-inch base, sells for $4,000.