Sunday, September 27, 2015

Honduran kitsch

Kitsch (noun): 
art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste 
because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, 
but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way: 
the lava lamp is an example of sixties kitsch.

Growing up in the fifties and early sixties I recall various types of lawn items, some of which were quite kitschy.

There were the St. Francis birdbaths and Mary Immaculate in half of an iron bathtub. There was the racist jockey and, of course, the flamingos.

I was delightfully surprised to encounter Honduran kitsch – in tens of roadside stands outside Siguatepeque.

On the main roads here there are gas stations, tire repair shops (much needed), small restaurants, stands selling vegetables and fruits,  honey sold in used liquor bottles, and much more.

But there are several large areas where painted clay figures are sold. 

Some of these stands also have hammocks and toys like tops. 

A good number have large pottery vases – two to three foot high – that are used for displays with artificial flowers.

But what really fascinate me are the very colorful figures - of all kinds:

Mushrooms with butterflies:


Deer and bananas:

Toucans and cows:

Even ants, made out of metal:


Lonely hearts:

And of course, flamingos!

More flamingos:

Flamingo love birds.

Even a pink flamingo.

And, to answer the question in the back of your mind, NO! I did not buy anything for my house - except for a bottle of honey.

But I really enjoyed myself, as did the two Honduran guys who were traveling with me.



A friend wrote about a possible connection between the flamingos:

 What, no painted chickens?! I thought they were the iconic Honduran kitsch. This really took off after the Peace Corps sent volunteers to Siguatepeque to teach them to paint pottery other than ceramic chickens. We endured several years of pepto-bismol pink pottery vases because of this Peace Corp program. When I look at the 19th C. traditional pottery and compare it to this stuff......

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