Not finding a really expansive audience for Ecuadorian inspired pieces, he moved to the world of furniture. For more than thirty years Maja designed, hand painted and manufactured some of the most captivating wrought-iron home furnishings that were a hit from coast to coast. In New York he showed his eye dazzling pieces at the International Contemporary Furniture Show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. For more than five years, his tables, chairs and hand painted jewelry boxes made him commercially successful. Maja was the first artist to open a retail art store in the Sunset Junction - Silver Lake area. There he developed a reputation for some of the most interesting functional art on the scene at the time.
It was at this juncture in his career that he turned to a more formal genre of fine art. In particular he was inspired by the world of painting, where his interests in landscapes and social justice issues captured his attention. Like his predecessors in Mexico including Rivera, Siqueiros, and Orozco, this South American immigrant gravitated to the plight of he undocumented and the indigenous people of the world. After years of offering his art in galleries throughout the Southern California area, Maja has established himself as a widely collected artist. When he was not engaged in restoration and preservation work, he managed to produce some of the most innovative sculptures and paintings available today.
In this current exhibition at Chimmaya Gallery, he is presenting what amounts to a retrospective of his folk art interpretations focusing on various spiritual and pre-Columbian subjects. He combines his elaborately constructed turquoise and mother of pearl model of Quetzacoatl along with a series of Day of the Dead inspired skulls know as "Calaveras." His interpretation of the Virgin of Guadalupe is rendered in a combination of gourd sherds and tree bark, which the artist colors with natural pigments. Also included are bread sculptures in the Ecuadorian traditions which had first launched his career in Los Angeles.
Milton Antonio Jurado Alvarado was born in Quito, Ecuador in 1953. He first came to California in 1972, where along with other Latino artists he helped start Self-Help Graphics in East Los Angeles. He joined other Mexican and Chicano artists such as Sister Karen Boccalero, Carlos Bueno and Antonio Ibanez to explore and promote a new kind of artistic expression which was yet unknown by the local artistic world. Until this group came together, the Hispanic artistic scene was fragmented and had yet to develop its own identity. Working out of an abandoned theatre, these pioneering figures launched new kinds of art presentations. With a grant from local sponsors, these artists created a mobile art studio built on a truck that travelled throughout the community teaching art to children of all ages.
On a more personal level, each of the founding members relied on their own backgrounds to determine how their self-expression was best defined. Due to his cultural background and traditions in Ecuador, Maja brought with him the knowledge of an art form not yet known to the artistic community in this hemisphere; namely, artistic sculptures made from the unlikely medium of everyday bread. Inexpensive and available everywhere, Maja was able to create miniature sculptures of human figures out of this most unexpected medium. Not surprisingly, these small creations found an audience in the local art scene.