Postcard from Oaxaca, Mexico: Ceramics, film posters and photographs fill former convent

Above, plate by Rafael Jimenez on exhibit in “Ceramica de la Familia Jimenez” at Centro Cultura San Pablo

Opening his own workshop in Oaxaca in 1925, Ignacio Jimenez soon realized that the talavera technique he had learned for applying paint did not work with the finer clay he desired using. Seeking a solution, he developed a new method for adding decorative designs and color to clay – ceramica escurrida, best translated as “drained” ceramics.

The skills he perfected were passed on to his wife and children, and his distinctive style continues to flourish as the Taller de Ceramica de la Familia Jimenez. His children employ the technique to create traditional patterns as well as their own more contemporary artistic designs.

Work by this new generation of the family was the focus of an exhibition at Fundacion Alfredo Harp Helu‘s San Pablo Cultural Center this spring.

Featured in the glassed-in ground level of the foundation’s compound, “Maestros de Cartel Polaco” represented a surprising exhibition for the center to host. I was definitely unfamiliar with the production of incredible movie posters in Poland.

In describing “History of the Polish Cartel,” Paul Bittencourt writes:

In the posters for theater, cinema or those related to the circus, the avant-garde tradition of photo montage and decorative plastic values is used, to which is added a warm sense of humor and stylization of the child. The simplest definition: “a scream on the wall.”

While it’s obvious the distorted body of Liza Minelli for the “Cabaret” poster mimics a swastika, we are currently wandering around Sicily. Versions of the symbol of Sicily, the three-legged figure at right, is seen everywhere and certainly could have served as an inspiration for the design.

Below are some of the varied photographs and collages of Fernanda Narchi Harp, and, yes, the talented artist is related to the museum’s founder. It is impossible to approach the mirrored image on the top left without becoming part of it, an excuse for our photo-bomb. The photo on the left of the second row is not of me in my sombrero reflected in the same work. Viewed from an angle, you can make out her print of an Asian fisherman upon which the piece is based.

Below are a few more of our photos snapped in the handsome cultural center housed in the renovated former Dominican convent in which the foundation invested more than $10-million dollars.

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