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New Artists Highlight Superstition Mountain Museum’s Mexican Artistry Event this Spring

The event will feature demonstrations by the artists at work and visitors will be able to observe and converse with the artists. Trunk showings of the artists’ beautiful works will be on display and for sale.

Guardians of age-old folk traditions passed down from generation to generation, these devoted indigenous artisans, some of them tucked away in remote villages of Mexico, often dedicate days or weeks to creating one exquisitely-crafted piece.

Such is the case in the village of Mata Ortiz in northwestern Chihuahua, Mexico, where families of artists are creating handmade ceramics, according to a centuries-old method that was re-discovered and perfected by one of the villagers, Juan Quezada. After years of trial and error, by the 1970s, Quezada had reinvented the technique used 500 years ago, reviving a tradition that has transformed his village into a community of master potters and artists. Some of the finest artistic and innovative pottery in the world is currently being created in northwestern Chihuahua, Mexico, by artisans living in this village.

Through exhibitions in museums and art galleries in Mexico, the U.S., Europe and Japan, Mata Ortiz ceramic art has begun to capture international attention. The thin-walled pots and figurines vary from polychrome pieces, black on black pottery, red pottery, to animal figures, and all are painted with an exquisite variety of designs, animals and figures, limited only by the imagination of the artists.

Creating Mata Ortiz pottery is a time-consuming and painstaking process and the rate of breakage is high – almost twenty to thirty percent of the formed and painted pots break during the firing process.

Acclaimed husband and wife potter team, Carlos Carillo and Lila Silveira from Mata Ortiz, who studied under Quezada, are returning and will be creating pottery all three days in the barn. They will be demonstrating their unique pottery-making, painting and firing skills.

Each of the three days, demonstrations of the hand-formed and hand-painted pottery being fired in pits will be performed on the museum grounds and the pots will then be auctioned off.

New to the event this year are another husband and wife team of master potters from Mata Ortiz, Salvador Baca and Virginia Lozoya. Both are award-winning artists who favor black on black pottery that that is lightweight and thin-walled, an ultimate mark of quality. Magdalena Pedros Martinez, famous for her black Oaxacan pottery figurines featuring traditional Oaxacan dress styles will be in attendance for the first time with her exquisite and detailed sculptures.

Gorgeous and unique silver filigree jewelry, made in the traditional Oaxacan fashion by Yesenia Salgado, is also a new addition to this year’s event.

Julia Fuentes, a graduate of the prestigious Bellas Artes of Oaxaca, and her son, Janatan Melchor Fuentes, return this year demonstrating the technique of painting the incredibly detailed whimsical fantasy animals (“alebriges”) carved by Oaxacan wood sculptors.

Master weaver Porfirio Gutierrez of Oaxaca, Mexico, part of a Zapotec weaving family with generations of artisans before him, will also be back at the museum demonstrating his craft and explaining the benefits of weaving textiles in the traditional Zapotec way using natural dyes and wool from sheep the family raises.

The museum is situated on a 12-acre site just beneath the west end of Superstition Mountain and is loaded with historical buildings and artifacts pertaining to the history of the Lost Dutchman Mine and of the area. It is run by the non-profit Superstition Mountain Historical Society and is open daily from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. For more information, go to or call (480)983-4888.

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Saturday, 18 May 2024

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