1 This is the workshop and outdoor space where Carlos creates and keeps his beautiful pieces of faux bois. The shed houses his tools and materials. The surrounding quarter acre serves as a display area.
2 This is a work in progress - Carlos is restoring and adding on to this bench that his father first built in 1927.
3 The birdbaths were made by Carlos' father as well. The hands were from another project. Carlos places smaller objects in the birdbaths, so the area's honeybees can perch on them when they visit for water.
4 The shop is located in a very historic part of San Antonio. The surrounding homes were originally made between the 1860s and the 1930s.
5 This basket is about 60-years old, and may have also been made by Carlos' father. Unfortunately it isn't signed, but its intricate details are stunning.
6 Carlos has a lot of pieces made by his father. This is a six-foot long concrete planter his father made in the 1920s. It shows the beauty and creativity of faux bois art. The black planters in the foreground are pieces Carlos picked up as inspirations for a future project.
7 Originally, this concrete donkey would have had a saddle and a basket on either side, possibly used as planters. Many of these pieces were made to be garden art objects.
8 Carlos originally made this faux bois étagère for an exhibition. Now it displays some of his smaller pieces of art, including seashells, vases, and stars.
9 This is a faux bois bench Carlos picked up - it is probably from the 1930s or 1940s.
10 The detail in the bench is not his style, nor that of his father or great uncle, but it is faux bois - and Carlos says, "all faux bois is beautiful."
11 This is a modern interpretation of faux bois on a lounge chair. It's made by a former student of Carlos, who had a vision for something nontraditional. Carlos helped construct the form.
12 This is a very old settee. It was made in the 1920s or 1930s, either by Carlos' father or by his great uncle. It is smaller - child sized, or perfect for two small adults. As you can see, the color has faded - it originally would have had more vibrant colors of reddish amber.
13 The structure on the faux bois table was cast as a miniature model for a public arts project at one time. It was originally planned to serve as a memorial for a fallen officer. Carlos made it to represent a temple-like piece with overlapping branches - similar to an old church.
14 Here is another view of the miniature construction - the reddish-brown object in the middle is just used as a weight to keep it from falling off the faux bois table.
15 Carlos learned many of his artistic skills from his father and great uncle. Faux bois has been a decorating tradition for many years, not only in France and Italy, but also in Japan, Mexico, and Spain. Here is a flat bench that Carlos made with his dad in 1981.
16 The bench is about five feet long. The entire piece looks like part of an old tree - such a beautiful example of the faux bois Carlos has been making for years. The surface underneath is completely detailed.
17 This is another piece done by Carlos' father. It was modeled after a cypress tree trunk or some kind oak with an irregular shape at the bottom. It is from the late 1950s.
18 Carlos' dad made this chair and table in 1932 and then Carlos restored it. Because this type of furniture is often left outside where it gets dragged around or left to sit through the elements, the bottom of the chairs can get damaged or absorb too much moisture. Carlos worked hard to blend the old with the new.
19 This table was made by one of Carlos' father's friends. It is two pieces - the bottom is cast concrete and the top is hand made.
20 This is a beautiful medallion Carlos and his father worked on together. The detailed pieces were placed onto a flat surface and put together like a puzzle. This represented his father's interpretation of an Aztec calendar. About 30 were made to decorate the side of a building.
21 Another birdbath, typical of the style used in Carlos' father's work.
22 This is an unfinished bench that Carlos says will one day be completed. It is eight feet long, and intended to be more of a public space piece. The side trunks are planters.
23 These are faux bois posts for birdhouses - two by two foot bases with 10-foot tall uprights.
24 An eight foot oblong table with curved benches and seats. Carlos says it is in line to be finished, and it has to be - it has already been sold.
25 These are two wire rabbits, or armatures - a framework around which the sculpture is built. These armatures will hold the concrete. Students making faux bois sculptures learn to make armatures before anything else. These wire rabbits are wrapped in one inch by one inch welded hardware cloth.
26 These are rebar armature benches lined-up in rough form, which will eventually go to an outdoor mall in Hawaii. They will be covered in hardware cloth, then cement and finally the finishing work to add the details.
27 This is a roll of the hardware cloth - one inch by one inch welded steel. It is very hard to work with this cloth.
28 Here is some hardware cloth on a bench.
29 Some faux bois artists don't use hardware cloth. Carlos explains that the hardware cloth keeps the concrete adhered to the rebar longer, resulting in a more durable piece of furniture.
30 The two end posts have unfinished, rough form birdhouses on top. Carlos will keep them unfinished until they are ready to sell, and then complete them based on the buyers' preferences.
31 This is a three-quarter scale model that was originally for a project creating a barracks-like structure. The plan was to have one 10 feet by 12 feet and the other 20 feet by 40 feet.
32 This is an eight-foot long religious tree grotto. It includes planters, seating and a Virgin Mary on the inside.
33 A table of faux bois "smalls" - some shells like these were cast in concrete and placed in the walls of the grotto.
34 A water well that Carlos' dad made in the 1950s. It was originally used as an aquarium for goldfish, or a planter. It is nearly all made of concrete - even the bucket. The only part not constructed out of concrete is the rope.
35 Here I am joined by Carlos and his wife, Hope. It was so nice to visit with them and see what's happening at the Carlos Cortes Studio. http://www.studiocortes.com
36 After visiting Carlos' workshop, we went down to San Antonio's renowned River Walk, and the Museum Reach. Carlos was commissioned to build a grotto between two streets in the area. It is 150-feet long and is quite remarkable.
37 This is the outside of the grotto.
38 There is a water feature at the front.
39 The water feature circulates water from the river and then sends it back to the river.
40 The feature is called Father Nature because of this amazing head sculpture. Father Nature sends water down through mouth and drops down to pool and then to back to the river.
41 Here is a portion of the ceiling in the biggest room of the grotto. These are concrete roots coming down through cracks of the ceiling that mimic the roots from the concrete tree stump sitting on top - everything is made from concrete.
42 A closer look at a root of the grotto. The vent holes allow air to circulate through the grotto. Father Nature is made out of the negative space of tree stump that is built as part of the installation.
43 These stairs lead to the opposite end of grotto.
44 On the other side looking up from stairs is this pinnacle of a faux bois trunk, and the top of a trunk with a planter. You can't really climb to the space, but it can be seen pretty well from the stairs.
45 This is a carved nautilus seashell built into the wall of the grotto. Several of these are built in random spots to keep guests discovering things along the walk.
46 This is another shell cast and built into the wall of the grotto.
47 This view is looking north, walking back with the grotto's entrance behind us. Such a beautiful location for the grotto.
48 And this is a gift to the city that Carlos built when he got commissioned to do the grotto. It is located at the end of the two streets that split. It is an organic structure, a fine example of the family's work, and a wonderful gift for the city of San Antonio.