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Mateo Blanco (Colombia)

By August 18, 20212021 Film Subject

Of all the fascinating personalities who make Central Florida home, Mateo Blanco could be the only one who has ever fashioned a portrait of Jennifer Lawrence out of 9,658 peanuts. That unconventional piece, commissioned by Ripley’s Believe It or Not, is one of many this iconoclastic artist has created from Cheetos, chocolate and other non-traditional media.

 

His eye-catching two- and three-dimensional work has made him a celebrated artist on five continents; it also allows him to show pride in his Colombian heritage and his identity as a Miami-born American. When approaching his career, “I pick the best of Colombia and the best from the USA,” he says. “As an American, I dream big and work to make my dreams come true. And I use Colombian coffee for my art!”

 

Not only is he a unique success in the art world, with pieces in galleries and private collections across the globe, but he’s also made quite a name for himself as a singer and recording artist. A classically trained vocalist, he has performed such operas as La Traviata, Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and Don Giovanni, and is recognized as the first tenor to record a multi-genre album. Past appearances have seen him sharing the stage with Aretha Franklin and performing in front of former president George H. W. Bush.

And he’s thrilled to be doing it all from his home base in Florida. His family has always felt a deep connection to Sunshine State, he says: His father, a motorcycle champion, made regular trips to Daytona, and his grandparents loved vacationing in Central Florida. He’s following in his mother’s particular footsteps with his love of Orlando, which he calls a “paradise” of happy people, history and parks both natural and man-made. 

 

“I make all my dreams come true living in Orlando,” he says. “My breakfast is Colombian, my lunch American and my dinner international.” That might be a metaphor — or it might be the ingredients to his next piece of art.

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