The here and now... and what and why

Complacency is a trap. At least that’s what I was thinking when I up and left the comfort of a Yankee prep school gig, where I taught music, amongst other things, for 28 years. There was also that life long career as a composer, musician and artist.

First, it was a year in St. Thomas, USVI, working as a reporter and shooting photography and then, a year in San Agustin Etla, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Time passed.
More time passed and a year back in the Athens of America followed by a hasty return to Oaxaca where it is all happening.
A couple of years in San Sebastian Etla and now, just down the road in San Pablo Etla. Life is good.

Click on an image to see it larger.
For additional photography please visit my flickr page.
You can find my music on Jango (World & latin - Worldbeat) and at iTunes and most online stores.
¡Soy consciente de todas las tradiciones del Internet!
If you are coming to Oaxaca, please contact me for tours or advice.

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo
The view from Corazon del Pueblo

The hereafter re me

My photo
Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico
Musician, photographer, videographer, reporter, ex-officio teacher, now attempting to be a world traveler

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

San Bartolo Coyotepec - Barro Negro

The village famous for its black pottery, barro negro, San Bartolo Coyotepec, is just a few km south of the city. Like Atzompa, the village on the other side of city, there are many families who make all sorts of items, both utilitarian and decorative. However, even the untrained eye can recognize almost immediately from which village a piece comes. The ones from Atzompa are all in the tan to light orange range, some painted or glazed with a very distinctive green. Those from San Bartolo are all a deep and often lustrous black.

I was lucky enough to accompany Rosa Blum Perez, the owner of Corazon del Pueblo, which was one of the finest folk art stores in Oaxaca for many years. So not only did I had an expert as guide, but on top of that, Rosa's comadre, Adelina Pedro, is a fabulous potter, a famous member of a large artesano family and she gladly joined us and took us through the streets and back roads of San Bartolo to visit several homes.

We were searching for classic pieces. The contemporary ones can be quite shiny, with a bright reflective quality, while the older styles tend to have more of a matte finish. We were also after classic shapes or forms. And we saw plenty, stuff that is not in the markets, things that it was a privilege to see. But what was even better was to be invited into people homes and to meet them. As one could imagine, every one was different. These were the village elders, maestros, and the heart and soul of this famous village.

Adelina told many stories about each artesano and filled the day with anecdotes and information. Based on an ancient myth, now tradition, only men are allowed in the mine to get the raw clay. Recently one of the village officials tried to take his wife into the mine. After a heated confrontation, not only was she denied entrance, but he also lost his access to the mine.

While only men dig in the mine, everyone works the clay and creates the pottery that has brought world fame to this village.

Here is Miguel Fabian Pedro and the pieces I got for the house. Absolutely exquisite!


stacey schmeidel said...

A wonderful post -- and thanks for the photo of the beautiful pots! You mention that Corazon el Pueblo *was* one of the finest stores in town. Has it closed? Thanks for your posts, which are always interesting, and which remind me of how much i love Oaxaca!

Christopher Stowens said...

Gracias. Si, sadly,"Corazon " is no more. However, Rosa is still active in the folk art world. Amate sells it in both its Oaxaca and Merida stores.