Ángel Santos Juárez, Tonalá, Jalisco

Ángel Santos Juárez, Tonalá, Jalisco

Ángel Santos Juárez was first sponsored to come to the Feria by Formento Cultural Banamex. Concerned about preserving excellence in folk art in Mexico, Fomento Cultural has developed a folk art support program to prevent the knowledge and technical skill loss of the Mexican Great Masters. They reinforce their cultural identity, self-esteem and pride in continuing production of their craft.

After two years of research, 150 artists selected for inclusion in "The Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art '' book were selected, representing various handicraft areas across Mexico. In 1996 these Masters were awarded their space in this landmark book due to their being considered "the best," in their community in reinforcing and increasing the living production of their artform throughout all of Mexico.

Ángel Santos Juárez was born in Zacatecas but has lived in Tonalá since he was a child. He is one of Tonalá's most outstanding and sought after artists. Tonalá is a well-known "art" suburb of Guadalajara where Ángel keeps company with some of the most famous pottery artists in the world - Nicasio Pajarito, Salvador Vázquez Carmona and Florentino Jimón Barba.

At a very early age, Ángel expressed an interest in the punteado (using dots or stippling) technique of decoration and in making clay pottery miniatures. Today, Ángel is perhaps best known for these miniatures. He carefully selects his clay which contains varying amounts of silica giving each distinct properties. Then he grinds the clays in his mill and then sifts them.

Next, the creative process begins. Deciding on what he will be working on, he selects the most appropriate clays, mixes them, adds water and sets the clay aside to "ferment" for several days. Barefoot, he kneads the clay on the floor until it achieves the semi-hard consistency that he requires if he is planning to model with it. If what he is making requires using a plaster mold, the consistency must be softer and more malleable.

After a piece is formed, he uses special stones that are periodically dipped in water to smooth the piece. Once the piece has dried, he bathes it in a slip which he has prepared, like his paints, from the same clays mixed with earth pigments. The slip provides the background color and seals the pores of the clay. Bruñido pottery is famed for its buttery smooth surface texture. This is achieved by very careful preparation of the clay itself, and by patient burnishing with wet stones once the figure is created.

Now, the decoration process begins. Ángel mixes the colors, checks that they will achieve the tones and shiny finishes he wants on his finished piece and he begins to paint. He uses fine brushes made from the hair of different animals. After the painting is complete, he will burnish (rub) it forcefully with a pyrite stone while the work is still slightly moist. This ensures the paint is properly fixed and keeps it from fading over time.

Ángel's decoration is second to none in its fineness of line, and artistic detail. His creative technique has won him many awards. He can also be found in private collections all over the world. His work is Mexican folk art at its best! He is also a featured artist in the book "Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art".

Avila Camacho #123

Tonalá, Jalisco, México

(01152 from outside Mexico) 333 683 4533