Monday, March 30, 2015

Trasteritos and Bateas

Some photos just can’t be improved upon--there’s no need. The picture I took of Antonio and have used all these years was from the day we met-- in 2003. I noticed him in front of his colorfully painted bateas and trasteritos, on the edge of the Plaza Grande in Patzcuaro, just outside of the official artisans booth area. It was like he had snuck in to the artisan market and didn’t really belong there. I had seen pieces like that before of course-- everyone has. The iconic painted chairs and flowery wood trays called bateas in Michoacán are well-known to Mexicans and their children, even those who’ve migrated to the U.S. There is even a demand among gringos for “vintage” bateas on websites like Ebay and among antique dealers. And I had seen some magnificent extra large bateas, like maybe a meter in diameter, in La Casa de las Artesanias in Morelia.
The bateas were made by Antonio Anita Mejia, a man with no art training but tremendous talent--the only real artisan in the town of Quiroga. Doug and I think of it as the Tijuana of Michoacán, with its dozens of shops lining the main street with all the same cheap souvenirs made somewhere else, it is a tourist trap to be sure. We can always tell when someone mentions Quiroga as a place to shop, that they don't know much about artesania. Until Doug and I moved to Michoacán and our guide Socorro took us around to film Michoacán’s artisans, we didn’t know what Quiroga really had to offer, and that was its famously delicious carnitas. From then on our workshop visits around that part of Lake Patzcuaro always include a stop at Carnitas Carmelo, across from a lovely park which is always empty. We often had trouble locating Antonio’s house, and were happy when he briefly had a shop right down the street from Carmelo. But there wasn’t enough business, weren’t enough tourists to pay the rent. Though I buy from him at least once a year, I don’t think Antonio actually knows my name. But he trusts me to pay him the right amount of money, casually looking at the numbers as I show him how I calculated the total. The soft spoken Antonio once told me he didn’t really know if the amount was correct, as he gratefully accepted the pesos I handed him. He doesn’t know much about math, but as my husband Doug says with great admiration-- no one loads a paintbrush like Antonio.

Antonio's work can be purchased in the U. S. from Mexico By Hand.
Please contact us at 510.526.6395
Trasterito with clay cups

Mini painted chairs

No comments:

Post a Comment