Arts » Arts Etc.

PRIMITIVE POTS FROM PAQUIME

With no written language, their history has long since been lost, but the record of their passing is recorded in the potsherds, found by thousands, in Paquime, the windswept archaeological site of their former home.

The people who inhabited Paquime were known by the size of their collective dwelling: Paquime means "big houses" in the indigenous tongue. Archaeologists attempted to trace their origins by their house building methods and the trade routes of their clay works. They gave the Spanish name to these archaic pots: Casas Grande.

Archaeologists weren't the only ones to prowl the ruins. Native villagers from nearby also scavenged potsherds, and the bits of history spoke even more eloquently to them. Residents of the modern village of Mata Ortiz resurrected the ancient potter's art decades ago, in painstaking exploration of local clays and available natural materials for dyes. The clay is dug by hand, the colorants are excavated locally, and the firing process is primitive. The resulting work is simple but precise in form, often extremely elaborate in its surface design, and born of a process that is amazing to contemplate.

One of these modern masters, Juan Quezada Jr., will produce his work in San Antonio Monday, October 7 through 11, in public demonstrations at the Southwest School of Art and Craft. Quezada's guest artist residency is in collaboration with the Mexican Cultural Institute, which, in conjunction with the Mexico North Alliance, kicks off a month-long celebration of the arts from the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

In recent years, Casas Grande pottery, and particularly the highly-skilled wares from Mata Ortiz, has become extremely collectable. This demonstration offers a rare opportunity to watch a contemporary artist explore a craft that connects him to the earth — and to the ancients.
— Retha Oliver

JUAN QUEZADA JR, MASTER POTTER FROM MATA ORTIZ
9:30am-noon & 1-5pm
Monday, October 7 — Friday, October 11
Free
Southwest School
of Art & Craft
300 Augusta
224-1848

comment