Carlos Cortés—Faux Bois Concrete Sculptor

Following in a hundred-year family tradition, CARLOS CORTÉS, owner of Tallér/Studio Carlos Cortés, creates one-of-a-kind outdoor sculptures and functional art that can be found throughout México and the United States. This European-based art, also known as Obras de trabajo rústico (rustic concrete work), was first introduced to San Antonio in 1924 by Dionísio Rodriguez, Cortés’ great-uncle. Cortés family work can be found at the Witte Museum, on the River Walk, at a former trolley stop (now a bus stop) in Alamo Heights, and many other public places in San Antonio, as well as at numerous residences. Cortés, like many artisans, grew up in the trade, learning the difficult artistic techniques for texture and color “almost by osmosis,” he says. Like many others who pass their craft down through the generations, Carlos contributed to legacy family projects. In 2001, he restored the Brackenridge Park trellis bridge, which had been built in the mid-1920s by his great-uncle and his father, and then it was restored again in the 1960s by his father. With steel armatures and concrete, humble tools like forks, palette knives, window screens, whisk brooms, and special mineral salts, Cortés creates unique shapes, textures, and colors that don’t so much fool the eye as seduce it. “People think this is a lost art, but it isn’t lost; it’s just forgotten.”