Getting Crafty in Cabo
Got a question about arts and crafts in Cabo? Ask Jesus Mora. Passionate about the region’s art and a friend to many of its artists, Mora has dedicated himself to promoting the best beaded work, woodcarvings, ceramics, and more. His Paquime Gallery in Cabo gives visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in regional colors, shapes and patterns. Here, he gives us a primer.
Paquime Gallery is open 10AM – 8PM. Check out their blog for more information on art and artists.
How would you describe the craft scene in Cabo?
Los Cabos is comprised of two small towns: Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. Each has an eclectic cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Cabo San Lucas is recognized for its nightlife, beach bars, and natural touristic attractions like the famous Finisterra Arch and Lover’s Beach. At Cabo San Lucas marina and downtown area you will find many shops offering Mexican souvenirs and jewelry, as well as great restaurants.
Meanwhile, the arts and crafts scene is booming in San Jose del Cabo. Its downtown Art Gallery District, adorned with cobblestone streets and beautiful historic buildings, is filled with great art galleries exhibiting amazing, high quality art by recognized and emerging Mexican and international artists. You can find paintings, sculptures, pottery, traditional and contemporary arts and crafts, plus designer jewelry shops with one-of-a-kind designs in Mexican silver and gold.
Galleries like Corsica, Patricia Mendoza, and Frank Arnold are a must if you like contemporary painting and sculpture. Casa Dahlia and Ida Victoria are great too. For wonderful Mexican contemporary and traditional folk art look for Paquime Gallery and Silvermoon folk art. If you’re into original designer jewelry, then stop by Raweli, Zoco, and Richi Vali. The art district is also home to wonderful restaurants offering everything from traditional Mexican cuisine to fine dining experiences.
On Thursday evenings, the Art Gallery District hosts the Art Walk. All galleries and shops are open until late. Many artists are on hand to discuss their art and crafts. Enjoy an evening with locals, tourists, art, wine and snacks.
Describe your path to starting and working in the gallery.
I began to get involved with the art and crafts world in the late 1990’s, in my hometown of Casas Grande, Chihuahua. At first, I was a translator for groups of visitors that came to the village and to Juarez City, where I first opened a coffee shop/gallery, Chihuahua Crafts Café Galería, in 2002 and ran it until 2004.
After a couple of years in Ciudad Juarez, I started to supply many native art galleries, arts and crafts shops, wholesale shops, and art collectors all around the United States. In 2003 I had the honor to meet Huichol artist Francisco “Pancho” Bautista. Since then, both a working relationship and great friendship have developed. I’m also friendly with his lovely wife Josefina, their daughters, and all his family and friends. A year later at an event in Guadalajara, I met Zapotec artist Jacobo Angeles and started representing his woodcarvings.
In September 2004 I opened my first PAQUIME GALLERY in downtown Chihuahua City and also began to supply galleries in the main touristic towns of México such as Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, México City, and Guanajuato. In 2005, I reached the Baja Sur and Los Cabos area. I saw lots of opportunities for the arts and artists I represent. I moved to San José del Cabo in 2006 and continued to supply local galleries and galleries around Mexico and the USA. Then in 2008, I opened and established PAQUIME GALLERY in the heart of the Art District, San José Del Cabo. Now we have a second location at La Playita, San Jose del Cabo.
Name three pieces in the gallery right now and what’s exciting about them.
Huichol art deer by Francisco Bautista. The bead designs on this wonderful deer include peyotes, eagles, lizards, flowers, and more traditional designs the Huichol culture includes in their art.
Wood Carving Alebrije Jaguar by Jacobo & Maria Angeles, hand painted with natural pigments.
Red clay pot by Juan Quezada, the originator of the Mata Ortiz pottery movement.
Who are some artists whose work will be in the gallery in the upcoming months, and what should visitors know about them?
Mata Ortiz Pottery by Juan Quezada
Inspired by the ancient PAQUIME culture ceramics, Mata Ortiz pottery is now recognized as one of the finest and most innovative ceramics in the world.
This new artistic movement is due to the efforts of Juan Quezada, the self-taught originator of modern Mata Ortiz pottery, his extended family and neighbors.
Mata Ortiz pots are hand-built without the use of a potter’s wheel. Shaping, polishing and painting the clay is entirely done by hand, using natural colors and brushes made from children’s hair. All materials and tools originate from supplies that are readily available locally. The preferred fuel for the low temperature firing is grass-fed cow manure or split wood.
Each of these characteristics derive from the ancient pottery traditions of the region, however the Mata Ortiz pottery incorporates elements of contemporary design and decoration and each potter or pottery family produces distinctive individualized ware.
A vibrant flow of new ideas, without the restraints of traditional practices or gender constraints, has enabled the pottery of Mata Ortiz to avoid derivative repetition common to folk art movements. This blend of cultural expression and artistic freedom has produced a unique artistic movement in the community.
Juan Quezada was awarded The National Award For the Arts in 1999 and has received many awards in Mexico and USA.
Huichol Bead and Yarn Art by Francisco Bautista
Huichol beaded art is constructed using glass, plastic, or metallic beads pressed onto wooden, ceramic, gourds or papier-mâché forms covered in natural beeswax from south Mexico. Common bead and yarn art forms include masks, bowls, animals and figurines.
The Huichol beadwork depicts the prominent patterns and symbols featured in the Huichol culture and its shamanistic traditions. Deer, eagles, corn, fire, peyote flowers, scorpions, and other animals appear. Through their artwork, the Huichol artists encode and document their spiritual beliefs. They involve myth, shamanism, ritual, peyote, prayer and ceremony. As was true in pre-Colombian times, much of their current art continues to depict these religious themes and serves as a means of passing on countless mystical stories. Francisco Bautista Carrillo “Xaureme” is one of the most important artists in the history of the Huichol people. His incorporates the traditional Huichol designs with color and modernity.
Francisco was awarded with The National Award For The Popular Arts in 1984 and 2000. In 2010 Francisco, was consigned by the Museum of Popular Arts in Mexico City to cover a VW Bettle that became the now famous Vochol.
Wood Carving Alebrijes by Jacobo and María Angeles
The term “Alebrije” describes animal-like mythical creatures made from papier-mâché or Copal wood. The Zapotec tradition of woodcarving has been passed on for generations, but the modern Alebrijes style woodcarving and painting has only been manufactured for the last fifty years.
Apart from using chainsaws to cut branches, the manufacture of the wood alebrijes takes place exclusively by hand. Like their ancestors, the carvers use machetes, several differently shaped knives, chisels and mallets, gouges and scrapers for the coarse preliminary work.
The painting process is longer and more complicated than the actual carving. Even an intricate and extravagant carving may just remain a piece of handcraft until it is elevated to an artwork by a talented painter.
In today’s sober and technical society, Alebrijes offer a way into a world of fantasy.
María and Jacobo Ángeles refined the manufacture of Alebrijes into an art form and developed a unique style of miniature painting influenced by the indigenous art of Mexico. Their style is characterized by elements of nature, blossoms, plants, abstract creatures and symbols from their indigenous culture.