Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wild for Oaxaca!

Can I just tell you how wild I am for Oaxacan woodcarving?  Really wild!

The Oaxacan region of Mexico is known for it's food and folk art - for me, it's the folk art. 

Talented artists use wood from the indigenous copal tree and carve fantastical animals, fish, insects, birds and even imaginary creatures from each sinuous piece allowing it's form to speak to which figure they carve.  Once the fresh copal wood carving has dried, they begin painting the figures in bright color, patterning and unique designs.  Most artists have his, or her, own style and can often be recognized by the figure's carving and it's style of painting.   

I've been collecting these brightly painted animals for nearly ten years, first becoming interested after purchasing an alligator from a local shop in San Antonio, TX while vacationing.  I was so enchanted with another figure at the shop and couldn't make up my mind, that my husband sneaked back the next day and purchased the armadillo, although I thought it was a possum.  That's where my love (my husband says obsession) first started.  I now have over 30 of these in my collection and am most proud of my 15th anniversary gift this year - a gorgeous bat in flight, carved by renowned artists Jacobo and Maria Angeles.  Jacobo carves and his wife, Maria, does the painting - reportedly with a cactus needle!  All I know is the Zapotec symbols and designs are so small and precise, I need a magnifying glass to appreciate the intricacy of her craft.  

I've even been able to work some of these little painted gems into my interior design projects - recently I purchased a Luis Pablo dachshund for a client's mantle, becoming a whimsical conversation starter as well as a personal touch.

Two of my favorite websites and galleries can be found below - as well as one local resource, The Phoenix in Washington DC (Georgetown) - be sure to visit!  I've also included photos from my personal collection - enjoy! 

El Caracol Zapoteca  and Solmar Imports Art Gallery

Here's the fella that started it all, by one of the Castillo brothers.

Handstand Rabbit, by Arsenio Morales.  He's known for using marbles as the eyes.

A giraffe couple, by renowned artist Luis Pablo

Zebra, also by Luis Pablo

Hippo by Arial Playas 

Rabbit by renowned artists, Jacobo and Maria Angeles

Just look at the detail!

Pig, also by The Angeles'

My bat! 

Detail of underside of wing

Inticate pattern and detail

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