Art for the Heart, Gifts for the Spirit

Biography

“Art is not a profession but a path towards truth and self-realization both for the maker and the spectator.”
Mookerjee, Tantra Art.

My work is both mixed media and multicultural, incorporating influences from my studies in Asia and Indonesia, my Mexican-American upbringing, my travels through Latin America and my southern California childhood.

My goal is to create art that resonates with the reverent presence of spirit and provides
a vehicle for people’s spiritual expression and discovery.

I began my artistic career in 1971 as a street performer in San Francisco. That same year I toured Mexico with a one-ring Mexican circus, traveling to small villages throughout the country.  In Mexico I was exposed to the art of puppetry and masks, kindling a passion that remains to this day.

Throughout the 70’s I performed with the Bay Area’s Snake Theater, Nightfire, and Antenna Theaters, all experimental theater companies that incorporated masks and puppetry in their work.  In 1977 I made the first of a number of trips to Bali to study mask making and mask dance in a culture where these arts are still integral to the social fabric. Upon my return, I formed my own theater company, and began performing internationally as a solo performer. For over 22 years I performed, taught, and created theater pieces with local artists in Europe, Japan, Bali, Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua, as well as in the U.S.

In 1993 I received a fellowship from the Japan – U.S. Friendship Commission to live and study in Japan. Japan, with its ancient cultural and artistic traditions, was the catalyst that caused me to shift my focus from stage performance to the visual and ceremonial arts. It was in Japan that my 22 years of performance in a wide variety of cultures crystallized into an understanding that the highest function of art is to serve the spiritual health of the individual and community.  This is the passion that has informed my work for the past decade and a half.

In studying the art of mask dance in both Bali and Japan, I learned that the key to each dance is the performer’s ability to channel and evoke different energies and emotional states. It is this capacity that I try to bring to my sculpture and altar making. Each of my pieces — be they small household altars, life-size sculptures, or walk-in spirit houses — contain specific energies that are meant to create a particular emotional and spiritual response in the viewer.

Since my return to California in 1994, my work has concentrated on the link between art, spirituality, and the community. Representative of this focus is the Bolinas Community Spirit House, which I created for the town of Bolinas following the events of 9/11. This walk-in sculptural piece sits in the center of town and is visited by thousands of people each year, a majority of whom leave wishes, prayers and offerings.

In 2007 I opened my studio in Pt. Reyes Station, next to the outdoor patio of Café Reyes.  Please stop by any time.

Ernesto painting a moon
Ernesto painting a moon