Gallery open house features blown glass, ceramics, and vintage textiles

By Susan Page

Colorful fruteros

Galería Atotonilco will host a two-day open house, Saturday and Sunday, August 31 and September 1 from noon to 5pm both days. Normally, the gallery is open only by appointment, so this is an opportunity to drop by at your leisure, enjoy refreshments, and see one of the finest folk art collections in Mexico.

Galería Atotonilco
Open house
Sat and Sun, Aug 31 & Sep 1, 12-5pm
Directions to the gallery in our ad
in this issue

One annex of the 4,000-square-foot showroom is devoted to spectacular decorative blown glass from the studio of Santiago Antiqua Glassworks in Tonalá, Jalisco. The technique of blown glass is widespread in Mexico, but many studios limit themselves to the common water glasses with blue rims, salad bowls and margarita glasses. The Santiago Antigua studio has gone far beyond these functional items to create colorful decorative vases, platters, pitchers, bowls and even nested shells inspired by the famous glass artist Dale Chihuly.

“This is the most innovative and beautiful glass blowing I have seen in Mexico,” says gallery owner Mayer Shacter. “If it were Venetian glass, it would be hundreds of dollars, but this is very affordable. Virtually every piece in the collection can be purchased for under 1,000 pesos.”

Although glass blowing dates back to at least 100BC in China, the very first blown glass made in the Americas was produced in Puebla around 1535 by artisans brought by the Spanish from Europe. For hundreds of years, with nothing more than a blob of molten glass, a long hollow pipe, and some old tools, artisans have produced glass items in a variety of shapes and sizes. Glass-blowing has flourished in Mexico because of the simplicity of the ingredients and the ingenuity of Mexican folk artists.

Also featured at the open house will be the ceramic work of Angel Ortiz and his son of the same name, who exhibited their work at the prestigious and highly competitive International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this past July. Shacter assisted the artists with their applications to the event and accompanied them to Santa Fe as their translator. “Their narrative ceramics have a depth of spirit and is technically exquisite,” says Shacter. “It represents the very best of what Mexican folk art can be: work that stays within the tradition of its region, but that shows great imagination; expresses a depth of emotion; and preserves history, mythology, and tradition.”

Already well known for his collections of vintage Mexican textiles, Shacter has decided to begin to sell his personal collection of Guatemalan huipiles, including pieces he has collected over the past 40 years. Many of these will also be on exhibit at the gallery open house. Shacter’s collection of vintage serapes related to the Mexican flag was exhibited at Bellas Artes here in San Miguel for the Bicentennial celebration in 2010 and was purchased by the Museum of the Serape in Saltillo. Shacter still owns more than 200 of these finely woven historic textiles, all available for purchase, and is happy to elaborate on their origins and the way they relate to the history of Mexico to anyone interested. To own a serape is to own a piece of Mexico’s cultural patrimony.

The gallery’s 4000-square-foot showroom displays folk art from all over Mexico including ceramics, wood carvings, paper maché, tin work, Huichol yarn paintings and beadwork, copper, lacquerware — in addition to country antique furniture and vintage and historic photographs.

Galería Atotonilco is Trip Advisor’s #1 Shopping Destination in San Miguel. The gallery is located five miles north of town in a beautiful country setting in a much-published, architecturally interesting building. Directions to the gallery can be found on the website (, in the gallery’s ad in this issue, or by phoning the gallery at 044-415-153-5365.

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