Willys Art in Colombia


The Willys Jeep is part of the culture of Colombia, where for decades the Jeep has been used to carry coffee beans, fruit and other agricultural produce to market. Not surprisingly, artists there have incorporated the Willys into their work, and this page showcases three artists working in different styles who have produced some cool portraits of the CJ-3B. Click any of the examples to see a larger reproduction.

Jairo Lopez

Jairo Lopez Painter Jairo Lopez lives in Manizales, capital of the Departamento del Caldas. The city is north of Armenia, but is still part of Colombia's Zona Cafetera (coffee zone) -- see a map of Colombia (250K JPEG).

This colorful painting includes three donkeys loaded with coffee beans, and three Jeeps: a CJ-5, CJ-3B and CJ-7.

Jairo Lopez In the foreground here, is a coffee plant, which grows best in the shade of larger trees up in the hills of the Colombian Central Mountain Range.

In the mountains there is also the threat of earthquakes and volcanos; see details on the 1999 earthquake in Java Jeeps in Colombia.

The bird is an Andean Motmot, which as the name suggests is found in the Andes, from Colombia south to Bolivia. And framing the Willys is bamboo which is also found in the mountains and is important to the local economy and culture in many areas.

Jairo Lopez The volcano in the background of this one is probably Nevado del Ruiz which is the best known volcano in the Zona Cafetera and is still active; a 1985 eruption caused an estimated 25,000 deaths.

Also in the background is the town square of Filandia. See a photo of the square (200K JPEG) filled with a caravan of Jeeps belonging to members of Willys Quindio.

Jairo Lopez This 2021 Lopez piece includes both the "old" method of bringing the handpicked coffee beans down from the hills (the donkey) and the "new" method (the Willys.) Also looks like some milk cans waiting for pickup.

The donkey brings to mind the very successful advertising character "Juan Valdez" and his donkey "Conchita," created by an American advertising firm in 1958. In Colombia the better known symbol of the Zona Cafetera is actually the Willys.

Jairo Lopez This appears to be a family portrait. It's a bit surprising to see the peacock, which is not native to South America, and may be more of an indicator of the wealth of this family. The Jeep has "4 Wheel Drive" stencilled under the front fender, a common detail in Colombia.

Jairo Lopez Here's Jairo Lopez and his bamboo ladder, at work on an outdoor mural. See more about Jairo on his Facebook page.

Jairo Lopez This is a closer look at the Willys in the mural seen in the photo above. While the donkey carries the coffee beans, the Jeep is headed for a "Yipao" parade, loaded with the traditional collection of household belongings.

Jairo A. Alvarez Osorio

Jairo A. Alvarez Osorio Jairo A. Alvarez Osorio works in more of a cartoon style, particularly in his depiction of the venerable Willys Jeep, which always appears battered and about to fall apart.

Jairo A. Alvarez Osorio Alvarez lives in Calarcá, just east of Armenia in the Departamento del Quindío, and this illustration is a call for animal protection in Quindío. The sign reads, "We are also Quindío. PROTECT US!"

Among the animals shown here are a sloth, spider monkey, tapir, armadillo, coati, toucan and spectacled bear. According to Wikipedia, "Despite having legislation against animal trafficking, Colombia is one of the major sources and routes for animal trafficking in the world."

Jairo A. Alvarez Osorio This character, whom Alvarez has painted a number of times, has some similarities to Juan Valdez, but Alvarez calls him "The grandfather of the Quindianos" because of how residents of Quindío have said he reminds them of their grandfather.

Jairo A. Alvarez Osorio Jairo is seen here in 2016 in Calarcá working on a mural of the grandfather, in a photo from his Facebook page.

Jairo A. Alvarez Osorio Calarcá is home to perhaps the best known of the Yipao festivals. (See some photos from the 2008 Yipao Festival in Calarcá.)

This is Jairo's poster for the 26th annual Desfile y Concurso del Yipao or "Yipao parade and contest," and the slogan at the bottom reads, "Calarcá, gateway to the coffee cultural landscape."

David Velasquez Toro

David Velasquez Toro One of the categories in Yipao competitions is for Jeeps loaded with family possessions, which typically include a clock, TV, guitar and portrait of Jesus. In this 2021 piece done by David Velasquez Toro with airbrush on steel, the highest spot is reserved for the bedpan!

David Velasquez Toro The collection of items piled on the CJ-3B in this big oil on canvas, includes coffee makers, a telephone on the hood, and a coffee grinder on the front bumper.

As of February 2024, this brand new painting is available for sale. It measures 80x130cm (about 31x51 inches) and is priced at 4,000,000 Colombian pesos (about US$1,025.)

David Velasquez Toro David Velasquez Toro lives in Medellín (see a map of Colombia, 250K JPEG.) He's seen at work with an airbrush in this photo from his Facebook page.

Bogota Airport While we're at it, the ceramic Willys Jeeps loaded with fruit, which are a popular Colombian souvenir, can certainly be considered an example of folk art. This lineup was photographed by Christian Podlesker at El Dorado International Aiport in Bogota.

Thanks to the artists. -- Derek Redmond

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Last updated 19 February 2024 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond