After the craft show I wanted to explore a couple galleries in the neighborhood and started off with my four male companions trailing behind. One good stop was Alma Mexicana, on Calle 54 between 55 and 57, a shop of Mexican folk art from all over the country. My second planned stop no longer existed and by then I had lost the attention of three of my men who split off to have lunch in the Plaza Grande. Jim and I continued on trying to find the Museo Arte Popular. We walked into two schools whose front gates were wide open on a Saturday afternoon, and finally found the Museum near Parque Mejorada on Calle 50-A at Calle 57. Entrance fee was 20 pesos (about $1.70 US). It is located in a beautiful home known as Casa Molina which was built in 1900 as a wedding gift from father to daughter. The father, a henequen tycoon, became governor of Yucatán. This space, opened July, 2007, has a wonderful collection of contemporary craft objects displayed very professionally in glass cases. The main floor had a revolving exhibition space that was currently filled with Christmas Nativity Sets: ceramic, papier mache and wood. None were under glass and a guard stood at the door the entire time we were inside. I asked if I could take photos and permission was granted.
Upstairs were six rooms of art objects displayed by medium: ceramics, textiles, articles of stone, cardboard, wood, metal and glass. The collection is vast and varied. The core holdings came from the old Museo del Pueblo Maya of the Institiuto Nacional Indigenista that was closed in 1995. To quote their brochure: “… the home of folk artists, where you can appreciate the cultural diversity of Mexico, along with the way of thinking, the way of life, and feelings of many artisans. They share with us their priceless knowledge, techniques, and values stemming from their highly unique viewpoint that we hope will prosper to strengthen and preserve this rich intangible patrimony of Mexico.”
It was fantastic. We stayed for hours until a phone call from our friends made my feet return to the earth. Apologies are due. I have just realized that almost all of my photos are of ceramics – what do you expect from a potter at heart. Please visit the museum when you are in Merida, it is very worthwhile.
Our arms were laden with treasures from the craft show, so James, Jim and Matt walked home with those while Allan and I stayed in town. Together we had turkey dinner at our local market then walked into town where traffic had been diverted and the streets were open for pedestrians, music and dancing. In the Parque de Maternidad, Matt spotted an artist with oil pastel drawings of Mayan women. His studio was nearby and we followed him there to see others. After some debate about buying two they decided on one, created in 2005, of a Mayan woman standing in the doorway of a thatched roof palapa house with two boys inside. It is wonderful and I look forward to regular visits with her at their condo near us.