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Gallery Open House

Beaders Juan and Family

By Susan Page

Galería Atotonilco owner, Mayer Shacter, and I (his wife) just returned from our annual buying trip for the gallery with our giant van filled to overflowing with gorgeous new items. The month-long trip took us to Xalapa, San Cristóbal, and other villages in Chiapas; Panajachel and Antigua in Guatemala; and several parts of Oaxaca.

Sat, Jun 27 and Sun, Jun 28
Galería Atotonilco
415 153-5365

New items in the gallery include an entire procession by clay artist José Juan Aguilar. It consists of 28 intricate clay figures, including a band, dancers, a clown, a float, and even a pair of giant puppets or mojigangas. We brought back more than 20 new pieces by this talented and imaginative artist, including a new selection of his very popular bugs.

In Antigua we discovered a family of woodcarvers whose masked figures are stately, almost reminiscent of Kachina dolls, with removable masks. And in Oaxaca, we purchased a large selection of carvings, painted with astonishing detail, by Augustín Cruz Tinoco. He is one of the few wood carvers recognized by Banamex as a “great master.” He is included in both of their new books, Great Masters of Oaxacan Folk Art and Great Masters of Iberoamerica, and will be featured this July at the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe. The gallery has an extensive selection of his work, and we returned with a stunning new selection of ceramic pieces by the world-famous Gustavo Pérez.

A Guatemalan Family

Of course, in a trip like this, we experience a side of Mexico or Guatemala most travelers never see. What pleases us most is connecting with new families whose work we can buy directly. For example, on the street in Panajachel, a man approached us with a beaded necklace. I said to Mayer, “I think that’s the kind of beadwork we are looking for.” We turned back to him, examined the necklace, and saw that it was of excellent quality. His designs were unusual and beautifully crafted, and we bought several necklaces. “I have a lot more work at my home,” he said. The next day, we took a boat ride about 40 minutes across Lake Atitlán to the town of Santiago Atitlan, gazing the whole time at the vast, spectacular volcanoes that tower over the lake.

When we paid, Juan said, “You are helping our family so much. We are very happy.” I was surprised at how overtly appreciative Juan was and at this verbal thank you.


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