I thought you might be interested in the most recent look at how we like to display Mexican folk art at Zinnia Folk Arts shop! We wanted to move the holiday decorations out so I decided to put the vintage (1960′s White Period) Heron Martinez tree of life in the front window and build a colorful support cast of a variety of Mexican crafts. The color is so welcome during these grey days in Minnesota…it’s actually raining today. Enjoy the photos and of course, if you’re in Minneapolis, stop in. We’ll be waiting for you. Saludos!
One of the popular arts for which Mexico is most famous is the wood carvings of Oaxaca. In fact, if people only know one thing about folk art from Mexico, it’s usually about the wood carvings or “alebrijes” which they’ve seen at the beach resorts or airports of coastal Mexico.
The carving of masks and children’s toys in the Oaxaca area dates back hundreds, if not thousands of years, but the current expression of wood carvers in Oaxaca’s surrounding villages was started in the small town of Arrazola by Manuel Jiménez in the late 1950′s. Now, three tiny villages –Arrazola, San Martin Tilcajete, and La Union–are known for their carvings and carvers. The lives of these artisans are not easy. Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in Mexico and most of the carvers living in these villages are subsistence farmers and carve their beautiful pieces for extra income.
A few carvers have done exceedingly well and are world-renowned. This is true for Jacobo Angeles whose amazing work can take months to complete. He employs many, many family members in his lovely home in San Martin Tilcajete. His taste and ability are exquisite and his carvings are highly regarded and highly sought after. We carry the beautiful carved hummingbirds as seen below:
Jacobo’s sister, Roberta, carved this stunning nativity set and it too is exceptional in its concept and execution. Truly a unique and collectible piece.
There are many, many very skilled carvers in Oaxaca and I wish I could feature all of them. I plan to feature others in the days ahead.
Today, I want to recommend a couple of carving families in addition to the familia Angeles, and those are first, Flor and Abad Xuana and second, Aurelia and Juventino Melchor. In both of these families, the man does the carving and the woman does the painting. And in both cases, each person is an artist extraordinaire!
I’ve carried the carvings of the Xuanas before and they will always be some of my favorites. Flor is one of the tiniest people I’ve ever met and one of the most lovely. This photo was taken at the Day of the Dead show in Oaxaca.
Here are some of the lovely pieces that I purchased from Flor and are now available at Zinnia Folk Arts.
There is another couple from San Martin Tilcajete who does very nice work. They are named, Juventino and Aurelia Melchor. I especially fell in love with their bunnies and have quite a few of them in the shop. Here are two in the website shop…
For more information about Oaxacan wood carving and carvers as well as the inevitable politics of it all, you can read, Oaxacan Woodcarving by Shepard Barbash (1993). Another writer is Michael Chibnick and his book is Crafting Tradition: The Making and Marketing of Oaxacan Wood Carvings.
As always, if you have any questions, please ask!
Mexico’s most prevalent folk art is made in clay. Every state and every region of Mexico has artisans making functional and decorative pots. Here’s a small sample of some of the ceramics we currently have in the shop in Minneapolis. Come on in and take a look!
Here’s a sneak peek of a small number of the items that were in the last shipment. This is from the trip I took in January and February! So unpacking everything is a little like opening Christmas presents for me. Everything will be going to the shop at 826 West 50th and will be available when we open but if you see something and can’t wait, let me know through this handy form….Saludos!
As you know, I’m super busy trying to get the shop fixed up and opened by the end of April. So, today I’m sending you a little photo spread of some folk art toys that are quintessentially Mexican…lacquered vehicles, circus rides, animals, carved ox carts…none of these are really “toys” in the sense of permitting a child to play with them but they are whimsical pieces, often taken from common images in the lives of Mexican artisans. Yes, you really do see oxcarts, horses, chickens, and animals playing instruments and of course, bright colors everywhere…
Sonora Market, also known as the “Witches Market,” is not far from the Centro Historico in Mexico City. It’s the place to go if you’re looking for ingredients to make a cure for an ailment, buy amulets to ward off or attract spirits, or to purchase a “limpia” or a “cleaning” from a curandero to get rid of the bad spirits. I went to see if there was anything interesting, and of course, like all markets in Mexico City, one can find just about ANYTHING!
Day of the Dead was a few months ago, but who can resist the charm of smiling skeletons? The paper mache figures of Mexico come in so many styles and colors but these beautiful skeletons, doing the work of street vendors, are really exceptional. Made by a family in Mexico City, they convey joy in their actions and their dress. They are about 14″ tall and stand on wooden bases, so they don’t tip over. This one is available right here, but there are several others on the website that inspire, as well.
Or, if you are looking for an unusual wedding gift, how about this gorgeous couple? This couple comes from another part of Mexico, Michoacan, and their faces and style are slightly different from the Mexico City figures. They are about 12″ tall and are available right here.
Above photos taken by Brenda Johnson of www.bjohnsonphotos.com.
This is a very pretty, one of a kind, little Valentine made of a reprinted Mexican newspaper, filled with a soft cotton and then embroidered with red yarn along the edge. It’s been embellished with a photo of Frida Kahlo and some lovely gold designs. This is the only one left in red but I also have one in pink, green and black. But, sadly that’s it! I can’t locate the artisan who made these. They were made in the US but they have the right Mexican feel, don’t you think?
They are $13.50 each and can be found right here. Free local pickup in the Twin Cities!