Hello Carnival Enthusiasts!
I’ve been wanting to talk about wire bending for ages, but I hadn’t found the appropriate material. Two weeks ago I had the serendipitous gift of a meeting with an elder who made that a reality. I talked recently with Mr. Narcenio “Señor” Gomez at his home in Port-of-Spain. Señor Gomez is 81-years-old and he began learning the art of wire bending at age 10. Wire bending is one of the basic foundations of modern mas that transformed ideas and inspirations from mere images in one’s mind into carnival costumes on the road. Tomorrow I’ll give you some of Mr. Gomez’ steps on how it was done in the past and what they do now, but I just wanted to share a tiny bit about this great, dear gentleman.
Mr. Gomez, as I said, has been involved in wire bending since he was a boy in Port-of-Spain. His parents were Venezuelan immigrants to Trinidad, hence his name. He and his wife have been married for the past 57 years and he has tons of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I’d like to be like these greats when I grow up because these folks are still active, busy and have an enthusiasm for life. Mrs. Gomez used to play individual mas as well, and she continues to play mas, but in smaller, sailor costumes. Mr. Gomez has built the frames for all sorts of costumes, designed and made mas for his and other bands, taught courses on wire bending in Trinidad & Tobago, the United States and in other parts of the Caribbean. He showed me photographs for costumes that competed in Barbados, the UK and the US that he had made.
The walls of their apartment are lined with photographs, including a great one of Mrs. Gomez in a large Zulu costume and countless trophies, honors and awards for Mr. Gomez’ work. Here’s one fact I’m almost certain you wouldn’t know. Multiple King of Carnival title holder, Curtis Eustace’s costume last year D Midnight Messenger – the largest costume ever to compete in the King of Carnival competition – the eagle was crafted by Señor Gomez. So don’t sleep on the art form of wire bending folks. Despite all the modern mas technology, the fireworks, the fiberglass, the silk screen bending, the work of a craftsman like Mr. Gomez is still very relevant and needed.
The last thing Mr. Gomez said to me when we parted the other day was, “I want my legacy to be remembered.” And you know what folks, it will be, you mark my words.