Jaguars spotted in San Miguel!

By Susan Page

In the jungles of Chiapas and Campeche, jaguars used to roam freely in great abundance. Their numbers are dwindling due to loss of habitat and human intervention, but as they have for centuries, they still figure richly in the mythology and art of the Maya and Aztec cultures.

Open House
Galería Atotonilco
Ceramic jaguars from Amatenango, Chiapas
Sat and Sun, Sep 28 and 29, 12-5pm
Directions to the gallery in our ad in this issue

Present day Maya artists are keeping alive the tradition and respect for these beautiful animals, and a large pack of ceramic jaguars recently invaded Galería Atotonilco, five miles north of San Miguel proper. These jaguars don’t bite. Instead, they add drama and beauty to any home or garden.

The small village of Amatenango, Chiapas, has a long tradition of creating almost life-size jaguars, along with chickens, iguanas, monkeys and armadillos. The animals have a captivatingly naïve yet life-like quality.

The gallery exhibits works by several Amatenango artists but especially the work of Esperanza Perez. She is a woman in her early 30s, whose work is of the highest quality. Her jaguars range in size from miniature to life size and are seated, standing, or lying down, but always eyeing you with suspicion – or possibly just curiosity. Esperanza is an enterprising artist and businesswoman. She is concerned both about the quality of her work, which is impeccable, but also about running an efficient business.  Interestingly, the front room of her studio and home is a small shop selling the supplies that the women in the village need to create the indigenous dress that they all wear.

Galería Atotonilco owner, Mayer Shacter, has had several excellent buying opportunities in the past month. He has acquired not only this new menagerie from Chiapas (including a giant clay iguana), but also over 30 new pots from Mata Ortiz, the finest collection of works from Mata Ortiz the gallery has ever exhibited. He also purchased 54 paintings that comprise a complete set of the traditional Mexican lottery cards by Nicolas Lorenzo of Xalitla, Guerrero. They are beautiful, brightly colored naïve works that make you smile. Also new in the gallery are several devil masks from Guerrero and a set of carved animal-head walking sticks and batons that are used in traditional dances. Several new 19th century trunks and country antique tables and old water jars from San Augustín Oapan round out the newest acquisitions.

Everyone is invited to the gallery’s Open House on Saturday and Sunday, September 28 and 29, from noon to 5pm each day. The gallery is located five miles north of town on eight beautiful acres in an architecturally interesting building designed by House and House architects. The house and gallery have been featured in several books and magazines and are on the cover of the current July 2013 issue of Dom, the leading architectural magazine in Russia! Directions to the gallery are in the gallery’s ad in this issue of Atención. For more information, visit our website,, or call us at 185-2225.

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