By Bob Alvarado
Mexico, a country built mostly of adobe bricks, concrete and sculptured stone monuments. Towns and cities with many layers of asphalt on their streets and steel reinforcements on the curbs. Countless coats of brilliant latex on homes, often built one room at a time, money permitting and as the family grows. That few towns are abandoned and few buildings razed is a tribute to a people firm in their belief of long standing traditions and skills passed on.
The new breed of craftsmen, the inheritors of centuries old artisans, are debuting with a fresh, more functional and stylistic art form that has U.S. retailers clamoring for more and keeps border crossings backed up for miles with trucks laden with goods destined for markets abroad.
Javier Garcia Buj, respected and loved by his students at the ITESO University in Guadalajara, is a celebrated design instructor who for years has been churning out these new talents with a keen sensitivity for esthetics and love of tradition. Be sure to read his piece, "The New Breed of Mexican Craftsmen". In following editions we will see some of the work created by this new breed of artisans-- imaginative glass works, paper pulp furniture, leather and ceramic innovations. Stay tuned for more.
Mexico's celebrated photographer, and laureate of many awards in literature, was remembered by scholars throughout the world recently on his 80th anniversary. Juan Rulfo (1918-1986), author of Pedro Páramo and The Burning Plains (translated in over 12 languages) was a quiet crusader for the common man. Through his photographs and writings we catch a glimpse of Mexico's soul, her rural citizens and agronomic backbone. In this issue we reveal never before published photos attributed to this shy and unassuming patron of deep rooted tradition. See "Juan Rulfo's Mexico".(Note: Cover photo for El antiQuario Vol. 1, No. 3 is from this collection.)
Just to keep our purist, Mexican antiques collectors happy, Ms. Kirchberg, being the eager news-hound that she is, has put together quite by accident (not one to leave a stone unturned) an interesting story of the discovery of a few clay pots of uncertain origin. Majolica from Puebla? "No, its Tonala," "no, its Sayula." You decide. In any case, these beauties are for sale, plus as an added bonus, one of them is an alleged fake. All the Carbon 14 tests will be available for your scholarly scrutiny. Nough said.
After months of prodding and pleading, our Director General, Mr. Chuck Trebor, has finally decided to succumb to our wishes and contribute one of his fabled anecdotes. We did, however, run into a couple of problems in that we were unable to get confirmation from his ex-wife or authorities higher up. Nor were we able to secure actual photographs, but we're sure you'll thoroughly enjoy this alleged true-life tale of smuggling, Mexico way, in "Confessions of an Antiques Smuggler," or Lonely Days and Lonely Nights.
We are pleased to have a new member join our eager staff. Ms. Beverly Inman Field, former Director of the Downey Museum of Art in Downey, California, has provided us with an interesting feature on the only contemporary Latin American art museum in the western U.S., MoLAA (Museum of Latin American Art). This innovative new treasury, located in a renovated roller skating rink, encourages new artists to send in photos of their work for possible new exhibits-- take note, budding young masters!
Our history expert, Mr. Jim Tuck, has offered us an in-depth comparison of two unpretentious champions for freedom and rights for the Everyman. Read about the striking similarities between Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Benito Juarez in his narrative, "Freedom's Odd Couple."
In keeping with this issue's theme of celebrating the modest and stoic traditions of Mexico, I recently returned from a trip to the coastal towns of Western Mexico, where I visited several businesses that showcase hand crafts from throughout the country. Anyone planning a trip to the Vallarta / Manzanillo area should be sure to check out the numerous shops which feature everything from blown glass, silver, pottery and textiles to fine art galleries.