Mexican Tonala Artisans to New York
I visited Tonala Jalisco many years ago, shopping to decorate my house, I saw so many beautiful things I couldn't make up my mind on what to buy. I finally bought an exquisitely and delicately painted ceramic "china" set, which I'm saving for my daughter's hand petition. A Mexican tradition where the future groom and his parents ask for the girl's hand in marriage. My husband asked my father for mine and my son didn't go on with this tradition because he's engaged to a Canadian girl. He gave her the ring and everything by himself. We shared their joy when they told us.
As a little girl I visited Tonala many times with my parents, they knew many of the artisans back then. I remember watching them make blown glass vases and a famous artist that made beautifully hand painted ceramic owls, we had some of those personally signed by him at home when I was little, that's why I don't remember his name, but I've just remembered the caramel coated pecans from Tonala. Delicious!
The Mexico Tourism Board’s New York office and the State of Jalisco will join the Brother Kenneth Chapman Gallery in the Iona College Arts Center, in New Rochelle, New York to host “The Color of Tradition: Herencia Milenaria” from October 25th – December 4th, 2008.
During the exhibition members of Herencia Milenaria (thousand year heritage) from the town of Tonalá, Jalisco will showcase their world renowned contemporary Mexican ceramic art.
Herencia Milenaria is a civil organization that was born in 2006 in an effort to unite some of the most well-known artisans in Tonalá and provide a vehicle with which artists could place their crafts and culture within international forums. Chuck Plosky, Professor of Art at New Jersey City University, and Artisan, Angel Santos selected works for this exhibition to provide “an opportunity for lovers of beautiful things to study superior examples of Mexican ceramic art. These marvelous works are made by artists who use their hands and hearts and minds to create brilliant and beautiful statements in this ancient material, clay.”
The opening reception of “The Color of Tradition: Herencia Milenaria” will take place on Saturday, October 25 from 1:00-3:00 pm in the gallery and a curator’s gallery talk and slide show will follow from 3:00 - 4:00 pm in the Christopher J. Murphy Auditorium. During the course of the exhibition, celebrations involving the local Mexican population of New Rochelle will take place as well as the cultural contributions from the town of Jalisco, including art, music and food. “The Color of Tradition: Herencia Milenaria” is part of CLAY FEST – a celebration of ceramic art in the New Rochelle area and All Fired Up! A Celebration of Clay in Westchester.
U.S. ceramicist and art professor Chuck Plosky admits he knew zip about Tonala’s potters before he visited a Mexican art exhibit in Manhattan sponsored by the Banamex Cultural Foundation.
Impressed by a handful of ceramic pieces by Jose Luis Cortez and Angel Santos, he scribbled down their names.
Chuck Plosky strolls through the back streets of Tonala, a place he has come to know and admire over the past two years.On a later trip to Mexico he spent several days hoofing the cobbled streets of the Guadalajara crafts suburb in search of the two artists.
Thus began Plosky’s love affair with Tonala.
Plosky, a professor of art at New Jersey City University, was back in Tonala last week to spearhead an effort to introduce the town’s potters to a wider audience at two U.S. exhibitions in the fall and early 2009.
Plosky first collaborated with the group of Tonala craftsmen known as Herencia Milenaria about two years ago.
Plosky said spending time with members of the group led him to reevaluate many of his methods of handling clay, fire and surface.
“We discussed cultural differences and similarities, matters of food, ways of approaching clay, fire, surface, form, personal expression and how to price work for sale. We looked at mountains, clouds, cities, museums and children. We laughed a lot,” Plosky said after a trip here in August 2007.