By Ruth Hazlewood on the Winter 2021/2022 Edition
November 2020 saw the opening of Galería Mex-ECO in Santiago, Manzanillo. So, what is it all about?
One of my roles as the owner of Experience Mex-ECO Tours, is to travel Mexico and scout out new places for our tour groups each season. Over the past 17 years, this has given me the opportunity to see some amazing places and meet some very interesting people.
During this time, I have acquired a collection of traditional Mexican artisan crafts, and a significant collection of photographs of said people and places. It had been a goal of mine for some time to integrate these two things into the Mex-ECO concept.
The time appeared to be right when the COVID pandemic indicated that we were facing a season of very few tours; it meant that we would still be able to purchase from the local artisans we usually visit on our trips, as well as providing the opportunity for people to see and purchase these pieces without having to travel.
And so it began – in October 2020 I headed off to Michoacán, visiting several of the towns included in our ‘Morelia & Monarch Butterflies’, ‘La Ruta de Don Vasco’, and ‘Guadalajara’ itineraries, purchasing an array of Mexican folk art and other traditional pieces, including catrinas and unique ceramic creations from Capula and Zinapecuaro, wooden masks and clay figures from Ocumicho, Cocuchas (large clay vases), embroidered blouses and dresses from Cocucho, leather shoes and wooden toys from Quiroga, glass vases, wine glasses and water jugs from Guadalajara, and many more items.
Other items were shipped to us, such as some beautiful cop-per work from our friends in Santa Clara del Cobre and Zapotec rugs of varying sizes and designs from Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca.
As well as the hours of enjoyment I got out of selecting these incredible pieces of artwork, I began selecting some of the photographs I have taken over the years and creating a dis-play for sale in the gallery. For those who have traveled with Mex-ECO Tours, these images may remind you of some of the spectacular scenery you came across, or some of the local people you met along the way.
Meet some of the talented artisans whose work we regularly display for sale in Galería Mex-ECO…
From the town of Cocucho in Michoacán, Bernaldina makes large clay vases, known as cocuchas – named after the town they come from. Bernaldina is one of approximately 60 artisans in her town who make cocuchas and similar pieces, such as ovens and plant pots. As I could not fit more than a couple of small Cocuchas in my car, Bernaldina and her family drove an old pick-up truck, full, from Cocucho to Manzanillo for the gallery opening. I had pre-ordered these pieces during my visit and, six weeks later, I was delighted to see Bernaldina and her family in Manzanillo.
I first saw Fernando and his father Martin’s work on display in the Casa de las Artesanías, Morelia. Award winning artisans, Fernando and Martin were a father-son team who have taken many first place certificates for their ceramics. Their work represents a long-lived tradition in the town of Zinapecuaro, but Fernando and Martin frequently came up with new ideas to create unique pieces that can’t help but catch your eye. Sadly, Martin recently passed away, and despite Fernando and his family being devastated, they are proud to continue with his work.
Rodolfo is a talented artist from Puerto Vallarta, who loves to paint wildlife and people of Mexico. Rodolfo sells his work in various galleries in the Puerto Vallarta and Nayarit area, and we are proud to have some of his work in Galería Mex-ECO, as well as taking requests
Galería Mex-ECO is located on Boulevard Miguel de La Madrid #14 (at the stop light by Juanito’s Restaurant), Santiago, and is currently open from Monday to Friday, from 10 am – 2 pm. Stop by and visit myself or Laura to check out our collection of art work and other locally produced products such as Cuzalapa Coffee, from the Color de la Tierra indigenous women’s Cooperative. You can also follow us on Facebook: @galeriamexeco (facebook.com/galeriamexeco).