Finding Zen in the “Sacred Heart of Popeye”

Finding Zen in the "Sacred Heart of Popeye"

There’s something sacriliciously satisfying about the beatification of cartooning’s founding fathers and mothers. Thankfully, artist Cayetano “Cat” Garza is ready to bless us with religious iconoclastography we didn’t know we needed.

Above: Olive Oyl as Virabhadra, Sacred Heart of Popeye (inspired by the comic strips of Sean Bieri and other works) and Betty, La Calavera Catrina (an homage to pre-Revolutionary artist José Guadalupe Posada).

The musician and underground comix creator – winning an Ignatz Award for the surreal Year of the Rat – has been working on his series of pious paintings for a few years now. Interestingly though, he didn’t limit them to any single faith.

“Equal opportunity blasphemy,” Garza said, adding that he’s being doing these kinds of mashups since college. “I don’t want anyone to think that I’m picking on any particular religion.”

Finding Zen in the "Sacred Heart of Popeye"

Above: The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (in the spirit of baroque artist Gian Lorenzo BerniniImmaculate Heart of Olive and Shiva as Popeye as Nataraja.

I first encountered Garza’s work through the likes of friends on Facebook (guess it does serve a purpose) and became particularly enamored with Popeye as an avatar of Shiva. Then I met him at a local comic con and picked up a print for myself. Pretty cool dude.

Garza is particularly fond of the Golden Age of animation, and ties it into a lot of his work.

“The focus back then was on craftsmanship,” he explained. “They were very deliberate about the things they did in those days.”

Finding Zen in the "Sacred Heart of Popeye"

Above: The Day of the Dead-inspired Felix de los Muertos and Popito y Olivita.

Living in South Texas, a lot of Garza’s work shows the cultural influence of the borderland, but he doesn’t want his work pigeonholed or limited to one label. That said, he does appreciate the richness that comes with the territory.

“That’s like a graphic representation of our culture,” Garza said, noting his Day of the Dead works. “I’m not one to confine myself to do doing cultural things for the sake of being Hispanic, but [the art of José Guadalupe] Posada is one that gives me a lot of pride.”

More of Cayetano Garza’s stuff can be found over at Etsy and Society6.

This story was originally published on the Kinja blog of Kevin Garcia on Aug. 28th, 2014.

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