Arte Casbal, Izúcar de Matamoros, Puebla
Flashes of color brighten the lives of Puebla's inhabitants. Thanks to them the art of polychrome pottery has reached the highest levels of precision and beauty known worldwide. Jorge Castillo Balbueno and his brothers, Ulises and Zuleica, are fifth-generation polychrome clay artisans. Their great-great grandfather, Simon Orta, began the family tradition of creating the unique polychromatic (having many colors) ceramics from Puebla.
Their cooperative, Arte Casbal, has a mission to preserve and promote the art of polychrome clay from Izúcar de Matamoros, Puebla. The seven members work together as well as creating individual pieces. Popular ceramic sculptures called Arbóles de la Vida (Trees of Life) are highly sought after for their brilliant colors and imaginative themes. Jorge’s brothers concentrate on the hand-modeling and polishing, while Jorge’s forte is painting. Through the mud and the color are created very diverse art pieces that evoke Mexican folklore, vessels with animals that seem to flit around, skulls, skulls and other motifs remind us that death is just one step in the circle of life.
María Luisa Balbueno began working with polychrome clay when she married at 19 years old and is the fifth generation to do so in her family. Her husband is the son of Catalina Orta de Castillo who has been credited with rescuing this traditional craft in Izúcar de Matamoros. She taught María the traditional process to create not only with clay but with the heart.
No longer married, she credits her art with allowing her to be independent. She provided for her children through her work and now they have their own workshops. She loves her work because it makes her feel alive and useful.
Jorge Castillo Balbuena
Carr. México a Oaxaca s/n
Barrio Sta. Catarina
Izúcar de Matamoros, Puebla243
436 8611 or 243 1020482