The Art of John De Jesus

Helena, the pinnacle of the Bella Muerte series, by John De Jesus. Used with permission.

Death isn’t separate from life in the works of sculptor John De Jesus— it’s simply the flip side of the same celebration.  His subjects may be deceased, but you won’t catch them dead in shrouds or somber mourning garb any time soon.  They’re still having too much fun for that.

La Bella Muerte, his series of original bas-relief woodcarvings, combines the ironic wit of traditional Dia de Los Muertos imagery with the glamor and excitement of an Italian fashion runway.  His skeletal cover girls pose in slinky cocktail gowns and retro mini-dresses, or else rockabilly tops and (very) skinny jeans.  Defiantly lively even in death, each carving has a distinct attitude and style all her own.

John began his career as a sculptor of action figures for companies including McFarlane Toys, but in time he became interested in branching out and finding his own voice.  It wasn’t until he attended a Day of the Dead festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he currently lives, that his inspiration clicked into place.  On the way home he turned to his wife Danielle and told her, “I know what I want to do.”  With his family’s support his work started to take on a life of its own, and the Bella Muerte collection has been the result.

Sonja, by John De Jesus. Image used with permission

Megan, by John De Jesus. Image used with permission.

Up next on his chopping block is Terminally Pretty, a new series dedicated, as John puts it, to those captivating individuals we’ve all met and immediately said, “You’re gonna be the death of me!”

You’ll have two chances to meet John De Jesus and view his work here in Los Angeles this Halloween season, at the Day of the Dead events hosted by Hollywood Forever Cemetery on October 22nd 2011 (, and Rose Hills Memorial Park on October 23rd 2011 (  Prints and original pieces are always available via his website,


Helena (detail)