If you have any connections with the South – Texas, Arizona, Mexico, Southern California – you’ll know how gorgeous Mexican folk art can be. Filling the space with blood-red vermilions and royal blues, with grinning skeletons and pious saints, with tin and papier-maché, it’s somehow larger than life. But we don’t get to see a lot of it up here in the Pacific Northwest. Fortunately for Tacomans, as of last weekend, there’s a whole gallery full of it at Tacoma Art Museum, complementing and expanding their usual Dia de los Muertos offerings of giant lobby tapetes (sand paintings) and community ofrendas (altars).
“Folk Treaures of Mexico” brings to Tacoma a smattering of historical and contemporary Mexican folk art from the Nelson A. Rockefeller collection housed in the San Antonio Museum of Art, which has the country’s largest quantity of this genre. At over 3,000 objects the Rockefeller collection is way to large to travel completely, but the TAM exhibit gives a delicious, spicy-hot taste, with a broad range of media and period.
It’s also a wide range of size. The art starts tiny, with a mirrored case full of thumb-sized clay figurines roping cows and carrying market goods, through painstakingly tiny straw mosaics so shadowed and subtle it looks like a painting at four feet away, past long woven rebozos and an intricately yarned ceremonial “tapestry” all the way to giant eight-foot demons made in the 1980s by the famed Linares family, constructed of papier-mache and painted in grinning black, red and blue. Read more »