Pastor Paul Flores was kicking around the mountains one day when he kicked up some chunks of old tin. The New Mexico light was just right for him to see something special in it.
"I was looking at the beauty of it," he says, "and I said, 'Something needs to be done with this.' "
He began making crosses from the things he unearthed — from old tin doll houses to animal skulls.
"My crosses are made of discarded material," he explains. "It's how I see the role of Christ. He takes discarded material — discarded lives — hangs them on his cross and turns them into something worthwhile."
Today, during the day, the Rev. Flores is the owner and operator of Crossroad Crosses, a little gallery in Taos that sells his homemade creations. When not there, he is the assistant pastor of the local Pentecostal Church of God.
Needless to say, the two vocations blend rather nicely.
"I became an artist about the same time I became a minister," he says. And in his mind, it's hard to separate the two. More of a folk artist than fine artist, Flores hopes people buy his wares because of the message they contain. Whether the crosses are shaped from tin, rotting wood, broken bones, feathers or old doll houses, they all tell the same story: "Jesus saves — saves us from the scrap heap."
As for public reaction — especially reaction from the artsy tourists who spend time in trendy Taos — the jury is still out.
"We've only been open a couple of weeks," says Flores.
On first blush, however, it would seem Flores has found a clever way to get his Pentecostal message out to a group that may not always have the time or inclination to drop by his church.