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Tucson Judge Wins Award for Picadiente Art

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Jose Robles with a piece of pottery he painted using only a toothpick.The only art class he ever took was required for his seventh grade curriculum, and he received a C. That was the moment when Jose Robles "knew [he] would never become an artist." Robles was recently named Painting/Mixed Media Winner by Arizona Attorney magazine.

Thirteen years ago he painted a flower pot to liven up his garden a bit.  Knowing he had a heavy hand, Robles used a toothpick instead of a brush to achieve the level of detail he wanted.  Since then, he has been creating "arte picadiente," which literally means, "toothpick art."  Each of his pieces "has its own story" and are inspired by victims he encounters as a judge, places he's been to - such as Santa Fe, Cuba, and Washington D.C. - and his genuine curiosity about life. 

Jose Robles was an criminal defense attorney for over 20 years and was recently appointed a Pima County Judge. Through his travels as an attorney and a judge, Robles maintained an interest in photography. He began a collection of art work by artists he admired, such as Rene Magritte, since he "knew [he] could never create [his] own." He displays the art he has collected, including paintings, posters and trinkets from his travels around his chambers.  p1010818

He has been painting intricately detailed pots ever since he started 13 years ago, and recently started painting on canvas as well. Robles uses art as "a retreat from all the stress of being a lawyer" and to reflect the inspiration he finds in day-to-day life. His art is characterized by bright colors, extreme attention to detail and metaphorical images.

Robles' work was exhibited at La Pilita Museum in Tucson earlier this month. View a map to the museum here.

Written by Bridget Miller

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