Posts Tagged ‘ceramicist’

Conventional wisdom in Oaxaca: “For everything bad, drink mezcal; for everything good, you also should.”

Lest we forget, the walls of Oaxaca are always there to remind us.

My copitas (little cups) by maestro Vicente Hernandez are always ready for a gotita (a little drop) or two on good days, bad days, and especially days when friends stop by.

Day trips to my favorite mezcal making villages and their mezcaleros, like Berta Vásquez (above) in San Baltazar Chichicapam, were frequent enough to keep the liquor cabinet stocked with a variety of artisanal mezcal made from one or more kinds of maguey (AKA, agave) — arroqueño, barril, cuixe, espadín, jabalí, tepeztate, tobalá, and tobasiche, to name a few!

Alas, since Covid-19 hit the scene, many of the villages are closed to outsiders and, even if they were open, I wouldn’t go — for their health and safety and mine.

However, mezcal aficionado and tour guide Alvin Starkman came to the rescue. Through him, I was able to buy five bottles of mezcal from several different villages and he delivered!

In the event you are trying to read the labels, left to right: Tobalá, Manuel Méndez, San Dionisio Ocotopec; Mezcal destilado con mota (yes, it’s a thing), Rodolfo López Sosa, San Juan del Río; Arroqueño, Fortunato Hernandez, San Baltazar, Chichicapam; Tepeztate, Manuel Méndez, San Dionisio Ocotepec; Espadín, Celso Martinez, Santiago Matatlán.

¡Para todo mal, mezcal; y para todo bien, tambíen!

(ps) This just in! Mezcal Tour Supports Advancement of Indigenous Women — an article about the wonderful ongoing work the above mentioned Alvin Starkman, his wife Arlene, and Mezcal Educational Excursions of Oaxaca are doing.

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Last night I joined a standing-room-only crowd for the book launch of Grandes Maestros del Arte Popular de Oaxaca (Grand Masters of Folk Art of Oaxaca) at the Centro Académico y Cultural San Pablo, in Oaxaca city.  This beautiful 340+ page book was the joint effort of the Fundación Alfredo Harp Helú, Fomento Cultural Banamex, the State of Oaxaca, and CONACULTA (National Council for Culture and the Arts).

Cover of the book

The press was there in full force, as was governor Gabino Cue, benefactor Alfredo Harp Helu, and a number of other movers and shakers on Oaxaca’s cultural scene.  Many of the artisans were also in attendance and several posed for photographs holding their copy of the book at the reception that followed.

One of the artisans who was not there was the late potter, Dolores Porras from Santa María Atzompa, as Parkinson’s disease had claimed her on November 1, 2010.  Four pages in the book are devoted to this maestra of pottery and her pioneering work with glazes.  Examples of her work can be seen all around Oaxaca, including these scattered in the garden at the hotel, Las Golondrinas.

Vase in the shape of a woman's face and rounded body

Her work has inspired imitation, but as is evident in these pieces, her whimsy, creativity, and sense of proportion would be difficult to match.

Urn with the face of a woman.

I want to thank potter Michael Peed for pointing out these hidden treasures…

Tall vase in the shape of a woman.

following a showing of his loving documentary, Dolores Porras: Artista Artesana de Barro Santa María Atzompa.  (Click here for an excerpt on YouTube.)

DVD front and back covers

And then there is this one, I discovered on my own, the very next day — on a bathroom shelf, no less — at Casa Linda

Vase with image of a woman, with pointy breasts.

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