In the 1948 book titled “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living,” Dale Carnegie used the phrase, “If you have a lemon, make lemonade.”
That maxim came to mind recently when I visited the home of Higinio Hernandez’ “R & R Creations,” a veritable candy store of one-of-a-kind, whimsical art works re-fashioned from what we might discard as “scrap.”
A cook by profession, Hernandez’ life took an expected turn when a horrific car accident occurred 18 months ago. He and his wife were hit by a driver coming down the wrong side of Hagen Road. While his wife escaped serious injuries, Hernandez suffered broken ribs, cracked toes, bruising on his liver, heart and lungs plus the inability to move his hands.
Devastated, Hernandez eventually sought help from a psychologist who encouraged him to use his creative hobby to heal and earn money for the family coffers. While his left wrist remains dislocated, Hernandez’ impressive output of delightfully charming, utilitarian artworks exude positivity and ingenuity.
“I liked to do a lot of stuff when I was a little kid,” said Hernandez, who came to Napa from Mexico City in 1989, “and when I grew up, I liked to do a lot of things in my home, like decorations. I would like to paint, and I’m thinking of taking a class. I have many ideas, but I need to know the basics.”
One source of inspiration for Hernandez comes from the photo sharing website, Pinterest. But it’s the materials he forages that pique his arty imagination. On a walk through Hernandez’ expansive backyard, it was clear that one man’s junk is another man’s treasures.
Among the organized chaos, I saw stacks of old barn wood perfect for shutters and planter boxes (of which there are many of each), a drawer of leather belts (used to make strong handles), wine barrel parts (repurposed for chairs and tables), old grape vines plus a vast collection of odds and ends collected together with son, Alexx, who runs his own construction company.
“Now I can bend my fingers,” he said, “but it still hurts. Sometimes I have a lot of pain, but my wife helps me. The work looks easy, but one of a kind is time consuming. Everything now is different, better but different.”
On site, Hernandez gave the name “Panfilo” to one of my favorite sculptures. Standing about two feet high, this figurine’s body is comprised of a wheel cap, the rim of a wine barrel, propane tank, metal tubing and tile blade, among others. Its simplicity is deceptive as are many of the more complex pieces filling the front yard of the family’s one-acre workshop.
Since I’m a pushover for “yard art,” I was in a little bit of heaven at the Hernandez home. From the moment I laid eyes on that rustic birdhouse — with its three clusters of dissimilar raw wood artfully aligned — I knew I had to have it. Most rewarding, however, was watching (and listening to) Higinio on the grand tour share his excitement about all the “art therapy” projects he’s currently juggling despite that sore wrist.
To view and or purchase Hernandez art works, contact Alexx Hernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 707-495-1412.
Higinio’s R & R also participates in the Tews Treasures Consignments outdoor antique sale the third Sunday of each month. Call 707-226-8397 for a schedule.