"It is my belief that while the high level of culture of any country can be found in its fine arts, it is also vital that we should be able to examine and enjoy the proofs of the culture of the great mass of the people, which we call folk art. The former are made by a few for the few, but the latter, made by the many for many, are a truer test. The quality of the life of the people of that country as a whole can best be judged by the folkcrafts."
The Unknown Craftsman - A Japanese Insight into Beauty, Sōetsu Yanagi, Kodansha International, New York, 1989
This is one of my favorite folk art quotes because it provides a simple and eloquent definition of folk art that can be easily and readily understood by nearly anyone. The artistic self expression of a person, people, community, culture or county that provides a common cultural understanding is one of the things that has resonnated and compelled me to include it in my life and living space. In Valladolid I encountered a rather amazing and even somewhat overwhelming collection of Mexican folk art.
The facade was simple, marked only by a metal deer head that gave no hint of the impressive collection that lurked inside. Once through the door, however, there was a riotous explosion of color, clay, wood, metal and every other imaginable artistic media that all somehow fuse together as the remarkable Casa de los Venados .
10 years of careful design and renovation have resulted in this 18,000+ square feet colonial building that does double duty as a priavte residence and folk art gallery. There are 5 suites for the owner's family and friends as well as their own 2-story living quarters. All of it has been lavishly decorated with the an enormous collection of folk art covering nearly every imaginable genre. Some of the pieces were commissioned specifically for the house, some were from well known folk artists while still others, in the true tradition of folk art, were the work of purely anonymous craftsmen and women. Much to their credit, the owners, John and Dorianne Venator, collected what they liked.
Words really cannot adequately describe or do justice to the depth and breadth of the collection. Photos do a better job in conveying the creativity found in the collection.
I've collected Mexican folk art off and on for a long time but more seriously and extensively over the last 10 years. Collectors have many different reasons and criteria for selecting a piece, for me it has always been the sense of whimsy or fun the artist has brought to the piece. The above 2 pieces really struck my fancy with their playfulness. As do the pieces below.
The Venators had a vision for their collection, for their home, for the future of both and for their adopted community of Valladolid. Casa de los Venados has been frequently used for civic and cultural functions but is open to the public on Tuesdays, the tour begins at 10 am. Admission is nominal (about $5 USD) and, along with donations and miscellaneous sales, is used to support a local medical project devoted to providing health care and medical services to those people in the community who lack the resources
If a picture is worth a thousand words, this video must be worth a million