" THE SPIRIT OF
MICHOACAN " - Tocuaro, Michoacan, Mexico
are many mask makers in Mexico, and Juan Horta is considered one of
Juan made his very first wood mask when he
was 10 years old, as he wanted so badly to take part in his hometown
Pastorela (a Christmas celebration where masks take relevance each
year). That deep, innocent wish took the young Juan Horta to one
of his uncles, a peasant who made masks only as a hobby for his
own family and friends. Who was to
say then that Juan's perseverance would make him one of the best
mask makers in the world?
Juan Horta has exhibited his art throughout
Mexico. His masks were selected by the "Ballet Folclorico de
Mexico", always featured in their world-wide performances.
He is also a multiple first prize
winner of Mexico's Mask Maker Competition. Among his many achievements,
he has been a featured artist at the school of the Art Institute
of Chicago and the Field Museum of Natural History.
Don Juan works primarily in wood, usually
painting and lacquering the finished mask.
Nowadays his five sons , residing with he
and his wife in Tocuaro, Michoacan, Mexico work alongside Juan to
preserve the heritage of this fine craftsmanship for many generations
of Horta sons to come.
Each mask is unique, a collector's item with
gallery owners and individual collectors traveling from all over
the world to his taller in Tocuaro, Michocan to buy his masks.
learn more about masks
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go to Juan Horta gallery
" LA CANDELARIA
" - Taller de JUAN TORRES - Capula, Michoacan, Mexico
This exceptional and highly prestigious painter
and sculptor, born in Michoacan, has always been fascinated by Death.
Death is a constant in his work, it appears everywhere in the shape
of symbolisms or skeletons and skulls. In
1982 Juan discovered the wonders of clay and starts creating "Catrinas".
What is a "Catrina"? (conceited
In the 19th century, a famous engraver and newspaper illustrator
named Jose Guadalupe Posada, as part of a political satire, invented
the " La Catrina", a female dandy mocking the european-influenced
ruling class of Mexico during the autocratic rule of Porfirio Diaz.
Throughout the years the catrina has been reproduced by many artists,
but never with such talent as Juan Torres, the catrina maker. His
catrinas are unique, never two to be the same. Don Juan's work has
been imitated by many, always without success.
Nowadays Don Juan doesn't make
many Catrinas in his workshop. Just a few are made by him and his
five pupils, who are under constant supervision by the master. EACH
CATRINA MADE BY JUAN TORRES IS A COLLECTOR'S ITEM.
EMILIANO ZAPATA SCULPTURE
Emiliano Zapata was born in the Mexican state
of Morelos in 1879. This legendary hero grew up to become the most
famous leader of the Mexican Revolution.
Raised in extreme poverty, Emiliano's family
hut was surrounded by impressive "haciendas" (estates)
owned by squandering masters. "Dueños de vidas y
haciendas" (owners of lives and estates). In those times,
the life of a cow was more valuable than the life of a peasant,
the life of an "indigena".
Each lavish estate used to have its own "tienda
de raya" (grocery store). The purpose was to retake the
petty cash earned under extremely harsh conditions by the peasants.
This was not only unfair, but bluntly cruel. The system was such,
that rural people were indebted for life with the "hacienda"
Since money was never enough to cover even
the most basic needs of the laborers, they were forced to borrow
from the land owners in order to be able to continue buying staples
at the "tienda". The result, a father could die
of an illness, then the debt was directly passed on to his son,
turning the lives of each subsequent generation into never-ending
In 1909 a bitter and courageous Zapata began
recruiting an insurgent army even before the beginning of the Revolution
which officially started in 1910 to overthrow the dictator Porfirio
The "Zapatistas" demanded "tierra,
justicia y libertad" (land, justice and freedom) for their
Zapata remained in opposition, fighting against
terrible repression until 1919 when he was lured to attend a meeting
with the government troops at the Hacienda de Chinameca in his native
Morelos where he was ambushed and gunned down. Since then, little
has been done to improve the lives of the poverty-stricken.
Nowadays, a hero to the suppressed, his memory
is an inspiration and source of "hope". The Zapatista
Army of National Liberation under the leadership of the "Subcomandante
Marcos" is still struggling against the social injustices
that prevails in this country as well as in other Latin American
Quoting Emiliano Zapata
" PREFIERO MORIR DE PIE QUE VIVIR
SIEMPRE ARRODILLADO " (Better to die on my feet than to
live forever on my knees. )
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go to Juan Torres gallery
|PUERTO DEL CIELO
"PUERTO DEL CIELO" -- Santa Maria inspired religious art to recreate in the mind of the beholder the spirit of the Christ through the contemplation of sacred art.
Puerta del Cielo Galeria (door to heaven) is the gallery of Marco Antonio Martinez. Inspired by his devotion and love of Maria, Marco is noted for
his exquisite, elaborate sacred art designs. Each piece reflects the soul-purpose of his sacred art -- to inspire and recreate in the mind of the beholder the spirit of the Christ through the contemplation of art. A master wood carver, Marco Antonio uses a variety of styles and techniques to create his original and innovative gilded religious art pieces, including but not limited to gold leafing and natural elaboration of recycled paper and fibers.
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go to Puerto del Cielo Gallery
"TALLER DE DON SALVADOR
TERA E HIJOS" - Excellence is Wood Sculpturing - Tocuaro, Michoacan,
Almost 30 years working in the fine art of
wood sculpturing, and striving for excellence have created an unparalled
reputation in Michoacan for the late Don Salvador Tera and his four
surviving sons as the best fine art, wood sculpturers in Michoacan.
Once a mask-maker from the famous mask-making
town of Tocuaro, Michoacan, Don Salvador saw the opportunity to
integrate and build upon his mask-making art form into the fine
art of wood sculpturing. To achieve excellence in his trade, Don
Salvador applied himself for five years at the workshop of wood
sculpturing in Bellas Artes, Mexico City. A devoted father, he passed
on this knowledge of the wood sculpturing art form to his four sons.
The respect his four sons have for their father is immediately evident
when you walk into their "taller" (workshop) and see the
alter created in reverence to their this forward-thinking, talented,
Today, the works of art of the Taller de
Don Salvador Tera e Hijos is a team work. These four talented artists
each take part in the completion of their exquisite creations applying
their unique, individual talent. The Tera brothers have works of
art that are permanently exhibited in churches throughout Mexico
as sacred art. Even in the Vatican, a masterly sculptured Madonna
of Lourdes by the Tera brothers can be found.
Their marvelous replicas of renowed artists
such as Michel Angelo and Leonardo Davinci, among others, will in
time become keepsake treasures of increasing value from generation
to generation for those sensitive enough to recognize the beauty
of this exceptional long lasting art form.
Red cedar and mahogany from the coasts of
Mexico and Central America are the primary woods that become some
of the most amazing works of art.
The Tera brothers accept custom orders for
hand-carved wooden doors and busts made from your photographs. Contact
us for more information.
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go to Tera I gallery
|TERA GALLERY II
The Tera brothers also display their Santos
art collection in The Art of Mexico, Gallery 4-II.
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go to Tera II gallery
" COBRE COLECCION " - Taller de Roberto Castro Hernandez
y familia - Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacan, Mexico
Roberto Castro Hernández is by himself
one of the biggest names in Santa Clara del Cobre, his place of
birth. This well known town has gained
international recognition for its fine artisans in copper.
The trade has been around for centuries,
but in 1907 Roberto's grandfather on his mother's side passed on
his teachings to his family members. Roberto's cousins have also
followed into the tradition, but only to preserve the forever existing
This amazing artist started playing and working
with this beautiful metal at the tender age of 10. Roberto's talent
pushed him to challenge himself to break away, to become an original.
In time, he started experimenting with
different techniques. As he gained experience, he became the creator
of his own pieces aiming to change copper forever. His copper pieces
are among the most unique made in the region.
His excellent work is often requested and
cherished among architects and interior designers of the new current
known as Mexican contemporary construction. This new architectonic
expression is based on preserving the "Mexicanidad" in
its designs, but at the same time, it is about constant innovation.
Roberto's pieces are exposed in hotels all over the country.
Just to mention a few, the following are
among the many exhibitions in which Roberto has participated and
his works of art in copper have been admired and awarded.
1998.- Mexico City - Casa de las Artesanias
1999.- Boca del Rio, Veracruz - Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes
2000.- México City - Colegio Mexicano de Arquitectos
2003.- Madrid, Spain - Muestra Artesanal Latinoamericana
more about Roberto's techniques
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go to the Copper Collection gallery
PINEAPPLE POTTERY ART - from clay you came and pineapples you have become
PEDRO HERNANDEZ CARLOS is the most celebrated contemporary Mexican pineapple pottery artist. The essence of his exquisite designs captures the original meaning of his art form as a tribute to the pine tree. Not many people know that piña (pineapple) art was originally pino (pine) art. It makes sense, however, as the region of Mexico where Pedro lives was at one time covered with pine tree forests and the people of the region dependent upon the pine tree. So, for awhile pineapple art was the rage and through Pedro's work, we are witnessing the return of pino art. But more than that is what you see in Pedro's work -- a graceful, flowing, exquisite art form honoring the "diosa del pino" (pine goddess).
Pedro Hernandez Carlos participates in numerous exhibitions and contests (concursos), always with great success. He caught the attention of the POTTERY OF MEXICO group who filmed and produced a DVD called "Pineapples of Patamban
and San José de Gracia". Here is an except from the DVD.
For more information on THE POTTERY OF MEXICO, and to purchase this incredible DVD, click here.
A new window will open. Close it to return to this page.
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go to the Pineapple Pottery Art Gallery
MORE ABOUT MASKS
The primary and most obvious function of a mask is to conceal the
face of its wearer and to substitute that person for another. However,
scholars differ widely in their interpretation of mask iconography
and the motivation for their continuing use in Mexican culture. Mask
motifs are correlated with possible continuities from pre- Hispanic
belief, and are present to make evident the persistence of shamanistic
elements, particularly animal guardian spirits or "naguales".
Masking is seen as a means of establishing communication with the
supernatural in an attempt to influence powerful forces of nature.
For centuries mask-making has been
a tradition in Mexico. During pre-Hispanic times, the Aztecs and
other native civilizations used masks as part of their religious
ceremonies. After the Spanish conquest, Christian traditions were
incorporated into the folk art of mask-making.
Mexican masks are usually made of wood, with
pieces of leather attached. Some of them have natural animal hair
and genuine cow horns. The masks can be painted, lacquered, or left
in a natural state (cruda).
The art of mask-making not only demonstrates
imagination, but a great deal of fantasy, as well as decorative
and creative talent.
Mexican Christian masked dances primarily dramatize the triumph
of Christianity over paganism. These dances are usually performed
on the feast day of a village's patron Saint or on celebrated religious
holidays such as Carnival or Christmas. Dancers often perform in
fulfillment of personal vows or as members of dance societies. Masks
are usually worn only by men who impersonate female characters as
well. Women may occasionally participate in certain dances, but
they do not wear masks.
The community masked dance performances require
huge expenditures of time and money. The successful presentation
of masked dances is usually the responsibility of a community's
"mayordomo". This is a voluntary civil-religious
position held by a man or a woman, an outstanding member of the
The work of the mascarero (professional
mask-maker) may more strongly reflect native traditions and dances.
It is likely that the mascarero inherited the trade from his ancestors.
In the region of Michoacan, masks are usually carved in woods from
the copalillo, colorin and aguacate trees.
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Each piece you see in the COPPER COLLECTION
gallery is crafted using the centuries-old bonfire method, just
the furnace to heat the copper and a hammer to give it the shape.
Each pieces is made from one sheet of copper (there are no welded
joints). No sophisticated tools are used.
The raw material is culled from waste copper
that is purchased in a number of places where copper is being constantly
disposed of in the form of automobile parts and cables.
The process begins by placing the selected
scrap material that has been cleared of impurities, into the center
of the forge to be heated at high temperatures. The material is
then covered with pine briquettes which produce an intense fire
of even temperature.
Roberto shown in his "taller" with son Gustavo,
who shows early signs of following in his father's footsteps.
After melting, the metal is left to
cool in the forge. At the same time and with great ability
and long tongs, portions of the incandescent copper are removed
and placed over an anvil where it is beaten with mallets and
hammers in order to achieve the desired size and form. This
process of heating and hammering is repeated as many times
Once Roberto finishes shaping the piece,
he reheats it only to sink it in very cold water in order
to achieve those reddish oxidized tones. Then he proceeds
with the decoration. The embossing is elaborated from the
original piece of material by hammering and using other tools
A great amount of tools are used in
this form of art. Chisels, pliers, tongs, scissors, shears,
punches, mallets and hammers of all types and weights which
Roberto uses to shape and emboss the pieces. The metal is
beaten in a forge, which is a hole in the ground filled with
"charanda" stones and compressed layers of ash from
Charanda = red soil from the region.
Since the copper in Roberto's pieces
is left in its natural state, the care required is minimum:
The patina protects the surface from oxidizing, so polishing
is not necessary. If the piece gets dirty, wash with soap
and water avoiding abrasives.