Folk Art Open House Sure to Dazzle
By Susan Page
If you love Mexico, you will not want to miss Galería Atotonilco’s Open House on June 25 and 26, noon to 5pm both days, where you will see, “without doubt, the finest exhibition and sale of Mexican folk art in the entire country,” according to the editor of Artes de Mexico, Alberto Ruy Sanchez.
Galería Atotonilco Open House
Sat and Sun, Jun 25 and 26, 12–5pm
Directions in the gallery’s ad in this issue
044 415 153 5365
Refreshments will be served.
And the finest exhibition of folk art just became finer because we recently returned from a month-long buying trip to villages and cities in Guatemala, Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Puebla. We returned with a van full of breathtaking items, including the work of four brand new artists.
People often ask us, “How do you find these artists?” The answer is a long list of fun stories that are a combination of serendipity, ingenuity, persistence, and sometimes pure luck! For example, we have seen and loved the work of the painter, Fernando Olivera, but we had been unable to find any contact for him. One morning in a bookstore, we overheard his name, inquired, and within twenty minutes found ourselves in a taxi on the way to his studio!
We are now introducing Olivera’s work to San Miguel and plan to present a full show in the fall of 2017. In the meantime, we have only the few paintings that he had available when we visited. He is a magical realism painter, his works filled with color, Mexican imagery, and vibrant imaginings.
Oaxacan Wood Carvings
More serendipity occurred when we were in a collective, admiring novel, highly skilled woodcarvings, and the carver happened to be there! We arranged to visit his studio the next day, which turned out to be a large, tidy compound in the country called Tribos Mixe, where several artists create innovative carvings finished in novel surface decoration and palette. We spent almost an entire day selecting one fabulous piece after another and hearing the fascinating history of this studio.
Mexico’s rising star in the graphic arts world, Irving Herrera, whose work is instantly captivating, has become a friend. We were buying his work before he became so well known, and he is now winning awards all over the world and will have a major museum exhibition in Berlin in October. Herrera limits each print to editions of 10, so when they are gone, they are gone.
While Guatemala is flooded with gorgeous textiles, we sort through it all to find the most unusual. We have zeroed in on the lush scarves and shawls of Juana Maria del Rosario and the women’s collective she’s part of in the Lake Atitlan town of San Juan de la Laguna. The women use stunning color combinations and weave in silk, silk and cotton spun together, soft bamboo fiber, and cotton.
Wedding Trunk from Our Collection
Visitors to our gallery often ask if they can purchase a piece they love out of our personal collection. The answer is usually no. However, our much-admired Oaxacan wedding trunk is now available to the first customer who asks for it. These nineteenth-century dowry trunks, a strong tradition in the coastal isthmus of Oaxaca, are beautifully painted with floral designs, some on reverse-painted glass and with details like mirrors or turned wood insets, and always with the initials of the bride and groom. Usually, when they do turn up, which is infrequently, they are in bad condition and lack some of the rich details that make them so beautiful. The one in our collection has everything, with richly painted roses, and is in excellent condition. We’d never seen another one so beautiful . . . until we came across one in a dusty antique shop that we knew could be cleaned up to sparkle, and . . . the initials on the trunk were ours!! M and S! So we have now replaced the one we loved in our collection with the new one, and are letting go of our beauty.
Our featured artist at this open house will be our beloved Jose Juan Aguilar, whose ceramic work only gets better and better. We also now feature black pottery from all of the four black pottery villages in Mexico: San Bartolo Coyotepec, Oaxaca; Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua; Huancito, Michoacan; and Tonala, Jalisco. We returned from San Cristóbal, Chiapas with stunning iron crosses and trees of life by Guadalupe Hermosillo, who appears in the book, Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art. The beaded jewelry from the family we have now “adopted,” in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, is more chunky and appealing than ever. And our selection of stylish, inexpensive purses is distinctive. You—or the recipient of your gift—will be the only kid on the block with one of these!