Archive for November, 2018

Museo de Arte Popular, Mexico City.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 24, 2018 by brunyfire

popBrunyfire’s last day in Mexico City at the beginning of this year (2018) was spent at the Museo de Arte Popular (Popular Art Museum) – located in the historic centre of Mexico City – to check out the broad spectrum of ethnographic exhibits that reflects and celebrates the everyday. The Museum promotes and preserves elements of the Mexican handcraft and folk art traditions and its collection includes textiles, pottery, glass, piñatas, alebrijes (fantastical beasts) and furniture.

Originally constructed as a fire station in 1927 by architect Vicente Mendiola as part of the government’s efforts to modernize the city’s infrastructure at the time, the building is a beautiful example of Art Deco. Sadly it was abandoned during the ‘80s and deteriorated further as a result of the 1985 earthquake. However, during the 1990s, the government decided to rescue the building and use it to house and display a major collection of Mexican crafts. The project was given to Teodoro Gonzalez de Leon, who restored the building updating its interior and it reopened in 2006. It now has a central courtyard (where the fire trucks used to park) covered by a modern glass cupola which lets in the light and illuminates the core of the building highlighting the mythical beasts that await to be paraded in the yearly, Noche de Alebrijes (Night of the Alebrijes).

EEB744D0-7044-45C5-AD0D-0073FB2745DBThese fantastical creatures are constructed on a monumental scale and then paraded from the main plaza or Zocalo to the Angel of Independence monument. But for the time being, they rest quietly……

The permanent collection contains both older and newer craft pieces from the various traditions that make up Mexican culture and is organized into five permanent halls divided by theme. 1. Las raices del arte mexicano’ (Roots of Mexican art), 2. ‘Las raices del arte popular’ (Roots of crafts or popular art), 3. ‘Lo cotidiano’ (Everyday things), 4. ‘Lo religioso’ (Religious items) and 5. ‘Lo fantasmagico’ (Fantastic and magical things).

For Brunyfire, it was the items of the everyday that were most intriguing as they reflected all the other themes within the collection. For example, there was a wall constructed of a whole series of the humble comal…….891B796B-68C3-4922-836B-9BB248245C86B147D852-D8B1-43D8-AF53-2C0A99ECC719…….merely labelled ‘Installation’ it represents the work of the artesans of San Marcos, Tlapazola whom Bruny fire had visited earlier in the year as part of the Traditions Mexico: Fire and Clay tour. The group visited and worked with the Mateo family, a group of sisters, aunts and nieces who have rapidly been gaining an international reputation for their finely burnished products. A further example of how pot making traditions of the past have managed a sustainable existence into the present day was in the perforated vessel featured in the ‘Everday’ exhibits. 70E00518-B2DB-4F1C-9754-417F0E5DE27EA beautifully proportioned piece, this pichancha is a colander. Used for rinsing the dried corn kernels after they have been boiled in calcium hydroxide which softens the outer shell thus rendering the corn easier to grind. This example would have been made in Ixtaltepec but the Mateo family from San Marcos, known for their smoothly burnished ware, make a contemporary version that we saw when we visited. B8E72E86-8BED-4FC1-A0F9-FBF7F9AB7F5DThe strainers the Mateo sisters produce in the bottom right have more in common with the traditional forms from Zacualpan, Guerrero. (Image from Eric Mindling’s book ‘Fire and Clay: The Art of Oaxacan Pottery’).4CD6F6BD-FB92-4774-AFFA-46D1A0A73608Collaborations between traditional makers and designers of contemporary products is a growing trend in Oaxacan Pottery as Brunyfire’s group were to learn. The Traditions Mexico tour was lead by Diego Diego Mier y Terán one of the founding members of Innovando la tradición, a multidisciplinary network of people working to increase the symbolic, economic and cultural value of Oaxacan pottery. Another example of the collaborative process was also seen in the special exhibition in the museum entitled……..14DC47FB-E97B-4A3B-9A0C-B5D5663FDA63………where traditional artisans were teamed up with artists and designers to create contemporary works such as these water purifiers by artisan Pablo Pajarito and industrial designer Juan Pablo Viedma.EB7D2306-1C52-4BA9-8F1B-77FA4C086D62(Pablo Pajarito’s work is renown in Mexico for its highly decorated and burnished cinnamon colours.)1BC20D42-36AB-4E1E-BDD5-36325525FA2AIn a seperate exhibition space at the Museum’s entry was another interesting exhibition illustrating further collaborations between traditional artisans and a contemporary artist.

‘Barro, Papel o Tijera’ (Clay, Paper or Scissors) was an exhibition by well known Mexican artist, Betsabeé Romero. Amongst the work, a collaborative series of wall pieces between Betsabeé and Rufina Ruiz López from Santa Maria Atzompa…..A65C18C3-8453-4765-AF38-B7BF5BF7A475……..the green glazed areas are touched up with gold paint.

Romero had also worked with artisan Javier Mateos in the production of a series of Barro Negro perforated wall hanging comales. FEBFA215-A4BB-4DAC-9A12-89B482730062Judging by the title of this show, and finding it hard to get any further information but making an educated guess, these cut out pieces very much reflect the papel picado (‘perforated paper’) tradition. Papel Picado is a decorative craft that originated with the Aztec people who first chiseled spirit figures into bark, that later became the Papel Picado now made by cutting elaborate designs into sheets of tissue paper usually with chisels and a small mallet.8B436A4C-8055-4CD9-A93A-401256DF739ECommonly displayed for both secular and religious occasions, such as Easter, Christmas, the Day of the Dead, as well as during weddings, quinceañeras, baptisms, and christenings, these were hanging from the ceiling of a local cafe in the nearby Mercado de Artesanías.F18CD9AA-6D45-4D4F-8193-4CF8122F08A7Providing a well earned gastronomic respite from so much cultural immersion.