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Ceramic Sculptures Highlight Gallery Open House

By Susan Page

The Aguilar Sisters have been well-known ceramic folk artists for many decades, working in Ocotlan, a village near Oaxaca. We first visited their studio in 2002, before we moved to Mexico. They had work on display, but on his buying trips, Mayer Shacter, the gallery’s owner, always wants to snoop around the storage shelves in the back rooms. “May I see that piece?” “Oh that’s by my son, José Juan,” we were told. We were astonished at both the subject matter (“Life and Death in the Sea”) and the brilliant craftsmanship, and we bought the piece. José Juan was 28, very shy, and very sweet. We have been buying his work ever since and find it to be the most innovative and beautifully crafted work in the entire family. On our trip this past April, we selected a dozen or more of his pieces, including a large Frida figure surrounded by sculptures of her paintings and many of his highly complex insects that are now selling fast out of the gallery. José Juan is now 40 and has three young children. He is still very shy and very lovable.

Open House
Galería Atotonilco
Sat and Sun, Oct 25 and 26, 12-5pm
Ceramic sculptures by José Juan Aguilar
Directions to the gallery in our ad
in this issue

José Juan Aguilar’s work is a good example of how it is possible to own a masterpiece of art for a few hundred dollars or less. If the work were a painting, it would be thousands of dollars. Folk art is highly undervalued, but the upside is that it is easy to own and easy for craftspeople to sell so that they can support their families.

José Juan’s work is captivating, innovative, and exquisitely crafted. Figures in the gallery now include women dancing with lush, beautifully painted skirts; a woman holding a mask; a woman with a lovely face in a boat filled with flowers; a wonderful mermaid riding a fish and surrounded by beautifully crafted and colorful fish; a woman surrounded by beautifully sculpted dogs; a woman in a rebozo making tortillas; St. Michael with a devilish devil being vanquished from heaven; Frida surrounded by her paintings; and a very special alebrije vendor. We also have a newer version of the piece that first captivated us, “Life and Death in the Sea.”

Margarita Fick

Here is an important folk art alert: The most famous and highly sought-after papel picado artist in all of Mexico, Margarita Fick, is ill now and no longer working. Galeria Atotonilco has the last few remaining pieces of her work, which are breathtakingly intricate, totally Mexican, and stunningly beautiful. If you have ever wanted a piece of her work, speak now or forever hold your peace!

The Gallery

Galería Atotonilco is located in a beautiful country setting, five miles north of town, with 5,000 square feet of exhibition space. The collection includes a huge variety of folk art from all over Mexico and a large selection of country antique tables, bateas, trasteros, trunks, and other county antiques. A gallery annex displays decorative blown glass, where a spectacular large vase looks like it could be US$1,000 dollars but in fact is only 1,000 pesos, about US$80! Welcome to Mexico!

Enjoy refreshments and take your time to view Trip Advisor’s #1 shopping destination in San Miguel. Saturday and Sunday, October 25 and 26, noon to 5pm each day. 1852225. Directions on our website: and in our ad in this issue.


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