Artist curates collection of folk art near central Mexican arts center - GulfToday

Former ceramics artist curates major collection of folk art near central Mexican arts center

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An assortment of Mexican folk art, at Galeria Atotonilco near San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, is seen.

If you step into Mayer Shacter's Galeria Atotonilco as a novice, you'll walk out an appreciator of fine Mexican folk art.

Shacter, a former ceramics artist from Berkeley, California, who has lived in Mexico since 2003, is much more than a curator.

"I have a personal relationship with these people. I love helping them preserve these cultural traditions.

He travels to remote areas of Mexico to meet the artists and learn about their craft, and then he brings their work back to his gallery, where he imparts his knowledge to his customers.

Another highlight of his collection is the lacquered gourds from Temalacatzingo, Guerrero. Lacquering is one of Mexico's oldest crafts.

Because Shacter has developed relationships with some of the best artists in Mexico, his gallery is packed with treasures.

Shacter and his wife, writer Susan Page, who started the San Miguel Writers' Conference and Literary Festival in 2005, were drawn to this part of central Mexico in part because of the arts community.

San Miguel de Allende was inhabited by rich arts patrons from its start in the 1500s. And in the 1600s, silver was discovered nearby, making the town an important trade thoroughfare. By the mid-1800s, it hit its stride, and many of its mansions, palaces and churches were built during this time.

Stirling Dickinson and Felipe Cossio del Pomar, a Peruvian painter and political activist, established the town's first art school, which still exists today. In the years after World War II, veterans flocked to the school and others when they realized they could stretch their G.I. Bill money further south of the border.

The city's architecture, cobblestone streets and rich, saturated colors make it an artist's - and collector's - dream. Some believe it's built on a bedrock of rose quartz, which channels positive energy and attracts creative types. Whatever the reason, they continue to flock to San Miguel de Allende - and Shacter's gallery.

Associated Press