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An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

Time Off

The potters of Mata Ortiz: April 2010 trip

— Ron Sullivan     

Most of the people in Mata Ortiz did not wear timepieces. When entering their homes, there were few noticeable clocks, calendars, or telephones. Time seemed to be on another kind of cycle. The village’s economic structure, in many ways, is an appealing lifestyle where nature’s cycles are felt more prominently than the man-made ones that we live by. We walked into their homes late in the evening without advance notice. Our serendipitous visits were greeted with much fanfare and graciousness. A strong sense of family and faith prevailed our every step. With few streetlights, the stars lit up the night sky. Time seemed to step aside.

With minimum external limitations, there is no place on this continent and perhaps in the world that produces the number of potters per capita as does Mata Ortiz. The quality of their work, without exception, is amazing and continues to get better exponentially.

 As we began our journey, our hosts, father and son Tito and Pablo Carrillo, exemplified this strong bond of family, faith, and artistic awareness. We were surrounded by the beauty of Grisel Ortiz’s painted murals on the walls of La Capilla de la Divina Misericordia. In Colonia Juarez and the adjoining countryside, the Morman community provided us with their pastoral beauty and orchards of apples and peaches. Entering each artist’s homes, we were greeted by their adoring families and proudly shown their pottery. 

 Our accommodations at Casa de Marta in Barrio El Centro were warm and friendly. Each morning in her courtyard, we were greeted by dozens of artisans proudly displaying their glazed and pit-fired products.

 We were introduced to Spencer and Emi MacCallum and their remarkable historic adobes. Their contributions to El Pueblo Viejo or “El Pueblo” and Mata Ortiz since the 1970s have helped to transform the communities. Spencer’s connection to Juan Quezada spurred the renaissance of Mata Ortiz. Finally, we give a special thank you to Gerardo Tena and wife Norma Hernandez for their gracious Juan Mata Ortiz hospitality.





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