Friday, April 23, 2010
The Mexican Pottery Village of Mata Ortiz
Isidro Ortiz decorating one of his amazing pots.
The finished product. One of these belongs to me now!
We were graciously invited into homes to view and purchase pottery
These are signed simply "Elda"
Pottery was displayed wherever there was room in the homes.
The proud artist- Diana Loya
People would find you on the street and unwrap their wares.
Some scenes from the village
A beautiful rural mountain setting.
I love contrasts.
These handsome gents were chilling by the bridge which opened up to a spectacular walk for our group.
One of the blessings of our Arizona abode is the proximity to any number of wonderful destinations, whether by plane or road.
I've lived in Alaska for over 30 years and it's no small feat to hop in the car and get yourself to an exotic location. Not to say that Alaska isn't exotic in itself but we only have a few highways going across that vast state and there are plenty of driving concerns part of the year with darkness, subzero temps and icy conditions. (although we are known to take a road trip at the drop of a hat to hit a good hot springs on a frosty day)
We have to drive through Canada just to get to the rest of the states and that takes a couple of days of marathon driving. That being said it is pure delight to be able to drive to the pottery village of Mata Ortiz in just four hours from our Arizona home.
We had a group of folks piled into our friend Julio's Subaru (he's Italian from Brooklyn despite his Spanish sounding name) We did have our Spanish speaking friend Patricia with us that helped in translation at the checkpoints. We brought along another Alaskan snowbird type for the ride. Armed with our free weeklong visas, plenty of water and a few dineros for pots and lodging for our overnight trip, we hit the road.
We stopped in the town of Casas Grandes to meet the original promoter of the Mata Ortiz tradition of pottery making, Spencer McCallum. You can read the story of the beginnings of the new tradition of Mata Ortiz Pottery making here. He gave us a tour of the new church in town with it's spectacular murals. I'll save those photos for another post. We went to the museum of Central Cultural Paquime that had the Paquime archaeological ruins that are over 1300 years old and examples of the ancient original pottery from the area.
The village of Mata Ortiz is a short drive from the the town of Casas Grandes. There's only one lodge in the village that includes three meals in the price. We didn't notice any other restaurants in town so I think that was our only option unless we wanted to stay in Casas Grandes.
The folks of the village immediately set up their displays outside the lodge upon our arrival.
Word gets out fast as we were the only outside visitors to the town that day. Between the economy woes and fear of travel to Mexico, business has come to a crushing halt for this village that relies almost solely on their pottery business to survive.
We did our best to inject our dollars and pump up the local economy for the short time we were there. Julio broke the record with the grande total of 26 pots, we came in second with 16 not counting the little bitty ones we hope to bring back to share with Alaskans. With two weddings and two birthdays coming up we are armed for some gift-giving.
It was overwhelming to say the least when there were so many artists to choose from and so many styles, we tried to spread our purchases around but we had to overlook so many spectacular pots and had packing and baggage and space issues to consider once we got home.
I have to say that the people were mellow and gracious in what had to be an extremely competitive environment with artists that are desperate for some cash just to exist.
The village itself was in a stunning location almost a mile high ringed by mountains. We Alaskans remarked how similar it felt to an Alaskan Native village in climate and surroundings, much like Fort Yukon or Galena without the huge river running through. We walked freely through the village snapping photos with a few folks catching up to us in their vehicles hoping to show their wares.