Sunday, February 13, 2011

morelia mordidas

Our next stop will be the butterfly sanctuary. 

But, before we head off to the mountains, I want to share a few Morelia photographs with you.

Bus tours have a tendency to drop passengers off at handicraft shops filled with souvenirs indistinguishable from offerings at Import Plaza. 

You could have colored me suspicious when our guide announced the next stop on our walking tour was a center offering handicrafts from each region of Michoacán.

My boredom meter pegged.  But I was wrong.  What could have been a garage sale on steroids turned out to be a cross-cultural cornucopia of writing and photographic opportunities.

The Casa de Artesanias is located in a former convent that ended its religious days when the Juarez government seized it.  It is now filled with all types of handicrafts -- of varying quality.

Most of the pieces were either pottery or carved woods.  Some very simple.  Others extremely complex -- incorporating pottery pieces into huge woven tapestries.

The photograph below is a typical display.  Furniture and pottery.

The tables are carved and then most are painted in primary colors.  I liked this one because it was unique almost as linear as an Italianate bed frame. 

Pumpkin and squash pottery pieces are a common motif.  And very well-crafted.  They manage to be concurrently massive and delicately detailed.

There are a few smaller pieces.  Such as this pottery chess set.  You may want to click on it to see a larger version.  The pieces are quite clever.

Not everything managed to ping my cultural bug.  Some of the presentations looked as if they were masquerading as a Pottery Barn clearance sale.

Or you might considering buying this.  Your very own IKEA crucifix kit.  (I rather liked it -- as a piece of art.)

My cultural association with the next piece is a reach.  But any of you who remember Laura Petrie's infatuation with the Thing she purchased at an auction would be tempted to buy one for your living room.

Now, you will need to excuse me.

I need to get back to assembling my IKEA crucifix -- while watching reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show.


Don Cuevas said...

I like a lot of artesanías, except for the weird green pineapples. Also, while Catrines are often artistically done, their macabre and sardonic motif is not one we care to have around the house.

Demon masks of Tocuaro are amazing, but we don't want any of those, either. They give off bad vibes to me.

The humorous Ocumicho diablos and sirenas are fun, but the pieces are incredibly fragile and hard to keep dusted.

In the end, we have a very few pine needle baskets and one simple potter olla. They are low key, attractive, feel good and have low maintenance requirements.

Don Cuevas

Felipe Zapata said...

Cuevas: We something in common. I really dislike the green pineapples. But I do love the macabre stuff. Got it at home too. A lot.

Steve Cotton said...

And you come by the Man of Distinction label because of it. Minimalism is just right for me.

Steve Cotton said...

The pineapples get my appreciation because of the detail in the pottery. After that, they are simply just an oddity.

lauriematherne said...

I like the pumpkins. The crucifix was scary.

Purplepatty said...

My house looks like a museum of Michoacan artesania. I just love all of it. Most I have bought from the artist themselves in their home studios. I haven't been to Casa de Artesanias in over a year, but at that time I found the prices to be only a bit more than directly from the artist. The Casa also has a pretty standard 30% off all prices, but the signs to that effect are not all evident.

I didn't like the catrinas when I first came to Mexico, probably because of my gringo ideas of death, etc. But since learning about the origin of the catrinas, I've really come to appreciate them and have, I think, 16. I also have a large mask collection both from Ocomicho and other places(and yes, the Ocomicho pieces are low fire ceramic and thus a very fragile, as are the catrinas). The scarier the mask the better for me; a number of my masks are antique and were used for festivals, rather than for collectors or tourists to buy.

Steve, I always disliked the pineapple stuff until I went to the museum in San Jose de Gracia where pineapples come from and saw very fine examples and watched how they were made. I have one piece from there which is very different in design than most, with all the pieces made by had rather than molded, as most are done. It has a place of honor in my house.

Michoacan is where my heart resides even if my body lives in Chapala. I would move to Patzcuaro in a hot second if there was much of anything going on there.
Chapala has many more cultural (whether local or international) events happening (just saw the Russian State ballet Thurs. nite in Ajijic). And many more opportunities to do charitable work. The weather is better in the winter, but warmer the rest of the year--and like you, I am warm blooded, but do OK except Apr, May, June and late June when the rain starts but it's still hot causing it to be humid, which I despise. Sorry to get off topic . . . Michoacan is one of the best states in Mexico in terms of beauty and artists. Gotta be better for you than the beach most of the year.

tancho said...

Thanks for the great pictures Steve, I have only been in that store once, years ago and the selection wasn't as vast as I see it. We usually drop off visitors and point out the places to see. That way we get a nice kickback from the vendors.....
just kidding.. You should return to the area during DofD and see lots of handy-work from all the small villages around and at much cheaper prices. Those things are good to buy to send back as gifts to people NOB. In Patzcuaro we have several great artist that make Katrinas that cost upwards of 100 to 200 dollars are have detail you wouldn't believe.
Did you happen to enjoy the fruit salad cup from the world famous vendor in front of that store? He has been written up in lots of travel magazines...

Steve Cotton said...

I suspect it was the mix of colors that caught my eye. It was inserted in between a lot of other pieces. But it certainly stood out to me. I took about 200 photographs in the "store" -- and that one seemed unique.

Steve Cotton said...

And it should be a great spot for a month or two in the summer. I was amazed at the major difference in atmosphere between Patzcuaro and Morelia. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Steve Cotton said...

I am glad I had my collector gene removed before I left Oregon because I would otherwise have bought a few art pieces on this trip. Don Vasco de Quiroga's influence is still quite evident throughout the state.

I am really interested in staying in Patzcuaro for part of the summer. But, as Wyntopia -- and you -- remind us, it is devoid of the higher arts. At least, it has Morelia for that. It would be nice to be near a place where you could go clubbing all night. Not that clubbing is a higher art.

There is no doubt that Michocan is a beautiful state. The trees make all the difference. Guanajuato has the same hills and mountains, but the areas around Guanajuato (the city) and San Miguel de Allende are just a bit too arid for me. Almost like the difference between Bend and Burns.

Steve Cotton said...

Thanks for fleshing this out. I really did not notice the prices. And, even if I had, I would not have anything to compare it to. But I like the credit card idea -- even with the 3% foreign transaction fee.

Don Cuevas said...

I know Jackieinpdx, but that's not her photo. The Jackie I know lives in Morelia.

Steve: are these just Disqus stock avatars?

Don Cuevas

Steve Cotton said...

The standard avatar (for those who do not choose their own avatar) is the palm tree. Otherwise, postyers choose their own.