From Peru to St. Paul


The intricately, hand carved gourds of Lucio, his wife Monica and their relatives will be proudly displayed at the St. Paul Art Crawl this weekend. Lucio and his family live and work in the small village of Cochas Chico, Huancayo, Peru. The gourds feature the designs of Twin Cities artists and residents Juan Llerena and his wife Rita as well as the Lucio family. The collection of artwork is owned and exhibited by Expo Peru Collection.

The artists use fire and a chisel to transform the gourds. “It is very labor intensive,” said Llerena. “They have passion for what they do and are working hard to reach high quality in all their pieces. No two pieces are the same since each one is made individually and by hand – only one at a time.”

For more information about the Art Crawl, please visit, or call 651-292-4373.
For more information about Expo Peru Collection, please visit or call 612-730-9520.

A small sample of the gourds is also on display at the Machu Picchu restaurant in Minneapolis. Luis, at waiter at Machu Picchu, said that many Americans who have visited Peru come to the restaurant to buy the decorative gourds because they developed an appreciation for the art during their visit to the country. Ruben, another waiter, added that the gourds are elegant, inexpensive gifts that are decorative as well as useful.

Expo Peru Collection is the name of the partnership between Llerena and Lucio and its goal is to promote Peruvian art. “Our business model combines all Fair Trade principles and practices and takes it to higher level by preserving art, culture and traditions from these local remote towns or villages by providing a source of work that eventually will allow the producers to become more independent, send their children to school or even send them to college and break the circle of poverty without losing their tradition that came from their parents when they were little,” said Llerena about his business.