Archive for April, 2019


The Shepherd Boy Who Sketched Mountainsides

José Quiros (“Rescoldo”) spent his youth shepherding his family’s sheep and cattle on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range above the Granada village of Güéjar Sierra in Spain. José had an abiding restlessness. There was something he was destined to do, but he had yet to figure out what it was. In the meantime he would put carefully-folded butcher’s paper and a pencil in his knapsack along with the lunch his mother prepared him for his day on the mountain. There was plenty of time to think up there and for putting his impressions down on paper.

In 1985, when he was 21, a friend advised José that there was a British artist living in the next village down the road and that maybe he could show her some of his work. This is how Maureen met José. After looking at his drawings and paintings she took him  directly to the Granada art school to meet José García Lomas, the etching professor there, the same one who had been her maestro in the Fundación Rodríguez Acosta printmaking studio a few years before. The old master was impressed with José‘s sketches and managed to get him into his etching classes mid term via the back door.

José spent the next four years etching off and on with Pepe Lomas and, after he left the art school, remained a lifetime friend of his etching master. Their favorite times together were scouring the Andalusian countryside for archeological artifacts. When Pepe saw José’s building project finished he said, “This is a work of art, the whole house, not just the wall hangings.”

_DSC6653José’s building project wasn’t a house in the beginning. It was a painting studio. He needed a place to paint. That’s how the building got that south-east looking panoramic window on the second floor overlooking the mountains. Besides offering a stunning view it admits beautiful light for working. “The steep rocky canyon reminded me of my longtime desire to have a house of stone and wood,” says José. “Maybe I was influenced by the stone walls and stations along the old tram line that passed beneath our village on its way up to the Hotel del Duque, and maybe by the grand old hotel itself.” The hotel, which opened as a gambling casino around the turn of the 20th century, remains in excellent condition today, though it has been repurposed by the church as a center for ejercicios espirituales, “spiritual exercises.”

Whatever the inspiration, José decided to do the building project himself, with his own two hands. It took him seven years. His only previous building experience was three months as a hod carrier. Never mind, he would invent solutions as he went along. He was lucky in that his building project coincided with a period in Granada–the late 80s–when many noble houses and public buildings were being demolished to make way for coldly-geometrical Bauhaus-influenced modern apartment blocks. “There were wonderful old bricks, pillars and beams lying around all over Granada,” says José. So he would approach the foremen on the demolition crews, explaining to them that he was building a house and asking if he could haul away some of the vintage materials they were throwing away. “Those were the days when centuries-old pine and oak beams, some of them engraved, were being cut up to fuel bakery ovens in Granada,” says José. “So nobody told me no,” adding reflexively, “It’s curious how life has provided me with what I’ve needed as I went along.”

aguila_realIt wasn’t until the house was nearly finished that José discovered it had unexpected magical qualities. “The big round ojo de buey window was one of the last elements I put in,” he says. “I sat down to amire it–I remember it was late spring–and suddenly I noticed a pair of golden eagles flying back and forth to the rock face opposite, taking food to their chicks.

The house sits in an interesting area surrounded by trees and little family patches of mountain agriculture. The River Genil runs down the bottom of the valley and there are walking and mountain biking paths that will take you up to the source of the river and beyond into the high Sierra Nevada.

Asked what kind of person might buy his house, José replies, “I don’t know. Maybe an artist or musician, or some other sensitive person.”

As for what he intends to do after selling the house, his reply is straightforward: “Do? I’ll do the same thing I do now, enjoy life.” That said, he does confess a long-standing desire to mount a Mongolian pony.


Contact José Quiros at: joserescoldo (at) gmail.com
As José doesn’t speak English, if you don’t speak Spanish you can email me at: mikebooth61 (at) gmail.com.
Text and photos by Mike Booth
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