The Maestro: King of the Cowboy Artists

1995 documentary

Rating: 14/20

Plot: A look at the life and work of Gerald Gaxiola, the self-proclaimed Maestro, a "cowboy artist" who dabbles in a myriad of artistic endeavors while no caring if he makes a dime from any of it.

"You gotta keep blowing your horn, my man, cause the world needs the jazz."

I like that lyric from a song near the very end of this because I think it captures what's important about this semi-oddball character. The Maestro's a guy who just trucks right along. Why? Because the world needs his jazz! My man!

If you're going to make a documentary about somebody that nobody has heard of, you'd better make sure the subject is fascinating enough to make the whole thing seem worth it. There's nothing profound here, but you can't help enjoying this glimpse at the Maestro's life. I liked the guy's art work, and I especially like how eclectic his work was. His career allows him to enjoy an obscurity that doesn't limit him to a certain style, so he's free to explore. Aside from his painting, we see him construct a studio, design his flamboyant cowboy clothes, sing original songs, and eat cookies. He's a living and breathing jack of all trades!

Most bewildering were a couple segments that made it seem like the Maestro might be a little less pure than he lets on. First, there's some ramblings about Andy Warhol and later, he's threatening to ruin Christo's stupid yellow umbrellas. I'm not sure what to make of those scenes where he talks about other artists.

Anyway, I liked this guy and am glad I spent the time getting to know him. I believe this is the first Les Blank documentary I've seen, and I liked the style and the subject matter. I'll have to check out the other stuff Criterion's released.

My brother recommended this.

Edit: Now that I've looked him up, there are actually two Les Blank movies that I must have seen right before I started doing this blog--Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe and Burden of Dreams. The first is exactly what it sounds like, a documentary short that just deepens the mystique of Herzog. The latter is very nearly essential viewing.

No comments: