May 21, 2017

Site Wide Gallery Sale

Site Wide Oaxacan Carving Sale

Many amazing pieces on sale as we move from Spring to Summer.  Selections of Oaxacan Woodcarvings  reduced in priced in each of our Gallery Collections.  Take advantage of some never before reduced works by our favorite artists and some of our extremely hard to get ones.  This sale ends May 25th.  



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April 17, 2017

The Nahual Enigma

 Countercultural Shamanic Spiritual Transformation of the 1970's

Many native Mexican folktale recount the antics of the Nahual, a strange shamanic sorcerer-type witch residing at the fringes of village life who prefer to operate where there are few to witness their craft. These beings have the ability to morph into animals and travel into the spiritual realm. Sometimes called naguals this name variation denotes a divine animal spirit within the individual. Divinity is usually depicted with feathered wings. 

Avatar Animal Spirits Oaxaca

First recorded by Friars and Priests living in Mexico in the 17th century they were described as having the ability to change their shape to dogs, owls, armadillos, cows, chickens and most impressively jaguars.

 Near the Farm the Oaxacan Animals Change Shape

Toltec in origin these beings still exist today creating mischief to some and acting as guardians on others. Both feared and respected, it is said their ability to transform is directly related to the animal represented on it’s birth day. This spirit companion transformer has been adopted into movies like Ron Howard’s Willow, rock group Yes’s ‘Owner of a Lonely Hearts’ music video, and even Power Rangers.  In ancient Persia and in mentioned in the Koran the Djinn were also able to shape shift. Comparisons can also be made to the wolf man of Europe.

 Djinn Devil Shell Werewolf of Europe

In Oaxaca, the mestizo (Europe and American Indian) populations consider nahuals to have malevolent intentions while the Zapotecs and Mixes revere them as protectors of the people. The character of Don Juan in the Carlos Castaneda books was a type of shamanic practitioner nahuatl descendant who encouraged the main character to identify with animals and learn from their spiritual teachings.

Carlos Castaneda Crow Wings Spirit Shaman

The three villages of Arrazola, San Martin, and La Union celebrate the subject of the nahual in many of their artisan works. Fanciful tales of stones transforming into people for the purpose of dancing and then shape shift into chickens.  Music played for festival celebrations often depict people playing a musical instruments with such fervor that they morph into animals is a reoccurring theme. 

Animal Festival Parade Oaxaca Mexico

Now relegated to simple trickery in order to get a free meal. The late Manuel Jimenez claims to have been challenged to strange contests of skill by several witches. It is often thought that the nahuals change their shape to farm animals in order to get a free meal. Woodcarvings of burros or cows are based around that folktale. As a rule of thumb nahuals usually have beards and blue eyes.   Qualities that were very rare with those sharing Meso American ancestry.  

Blue Eyed Grasshopper Man

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March 10, 2017

Edilberto Felipe & Mauricio Masters of Copal

The year opens with the arrivals of pieces by Edilberto Cortez and the artist team of Felipe and Mauricio Ramirez.  When we first discovered these artists back in the early 1990s, we were amazed at their distinctive qualities that sets their work apart in the highly competitive Oaxacan village of Arrazola.

Edilberto Cortez Oaxacan Master Artist in Copal and Acrylic

The eyes will immediately capture your attention when admiring a Oaxacan woodcarving and this is the magic in Edilberto's art. He has a unique way of creating 3D chiseled eyes on all of his works. 

Anteater Arrazola Edilberto Cortez Oaxaca Wood Carving Largest

Starting with his Egyptian cats and working their way across his zoomorphic portfolio are animal eyes interrelated by the characteristic raised eye shapes.  Snail Caracole Land Sea Arrazola Acrylic Copal WoodWhile other artists mimic Zapotec and Navaho patterns Cortez invents his own geometrical spaces and rules of color.  An anteater will always portray the characteristics of an anteater while a snail will always have a lucid patchwork of prismatic positioning. 

Kangaroo Stylistic Face Off Pouches Copal Wood Oaxaca Mexico

At the realistic end is his fur pattern painting style and splotchy patch method is entirely unique to him.  Another feather in Edilberto's hat is the ability to evolve new styles while embracing his original hallmark designs.

Felipe Ramirez Premiere Iguana Fire Lizard Artist Oaxacan Copal Wood Carving

Felipe and Mauricio Ramirez are the defacto Arrazola lizard painters.  Over the years many artists have borrowed from their flaming multi-color camouflage with boundless color combinations. 

Superlative Looping Lizard Felipe Ramirez Oaxacan Copal Woodcarving Arrazola

They are masters of mixing colors as they can make so many different hues work.  The term 'no two are alike'  quickly comes to mind when viewing the Ramirez brothers vast array of surreal swirling patterns and the contouring of multi-loop tailed lizards. 

Neon Nuclear Lemon Lizard Oaxaca Mexico Mauricio Ramirez

You could collect a hundred iguanas and two would never be alike.  Their custom color palette has a higher degree of depth also sets them apart from other artists.  In fact, colors that have only existed in Oaxacan pieces are ones Mauricio mixed himself. 

Pine Green Mountain Lizard Mexico Oaxaca Felipe Ramirez

Their pieces are often the only thing collectors collect forgoing the many other genres of village styles. Yes, 2017 has a magical start with these fantastic works new in the gallery.

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