Turn of the Century Importers..
Lost in the countryside and looking for Esteban Ortega Mendez was what we were doing back in the summer of 96. Finding the maker of bulb eyed maricanos proved nearly impossible. Would we have enough to buy his pieces if we found him and would we have enough for the bus back to town? Is there a bus that goes back to town?
This is how it started out for the two of us, collecting Oaxacan art for several years and trying to bring some back to sell in our neighborhood Sunday market in D.C. Craft shows and art festivals around the region let us experience the highs and lows of retailing in the elements. One time at a wine festival a storm front with tornados moved into the area unexpectedly and we had to pack up and drive out of there in less than 15 minutes.
Getting situated in a permanent location proved ideal in Rehoboth Delaware. The gallery shop was also called Port Wahakaa and was known for it's brilliant sunset orange walls. "Oh, you must be looking for the orange shop" was how folks were given directions to our hidden alleyway location. Watching passer buyers stop and stare at all of the animalitos in the lit up window display were our fondest memories.
Having the gallery gave us the opportunity to work with more artists who produced the finer more fragile works. Pieces we would never dream of toting from festival to festival could literally spread their wings in the space.
pictured is Narcisco Ramirez
Being refugees from the dot com era we always had a Wahakaan web site as an informational tool. Once commerce became a possibility in the 00's it was like having two stores. Eventually the virtual store won out because we didn't factor the stores rent into those items. We could focus more on quality of pieces from the artists workshop and not break into tears when a mishandled carving crashed onto the store floor. We moved to a larger online operation in Tampa Florida and many years later for logistics reasons relocated to Austin Texas.
workshop of Manuel Jimenez & Sons
Twenty six years later our priorities and perspectives remain much the same. Tirelessly working with dozens upon dozens of talented artists and bringing the best examples of their work to the gallery. The most gratifying part is to see the art evolve as newer artists who take what their seniors have taught them and branch out into their own unique niche. Contributing to a rich and diverse cultural legacy that has impressed it's vibrantly pure palette the world over.