Plastic Tradition in Tlaquepaque: Beyond the Little Pot Jars.

Luis Ernesto de la Garza

Box in Cancun

Independencia street, with its beautifully adorned paving Stones for pedestrians and its beautiful houses painted in bright colors, framed with floral trees, huizache trees and nopal cactus, is the spinal cord of this town, which has become a large art gallery with its own high standard wealthy market. However the whole town is a renown artistic production landmark that not only offers art, but the experience of an authentic Mexican town.

Plastic Tradition in TlaquepaqueTlaquepaque is a picturesque place adjacent to Guadalajara, Tonala and Zapopan, part of the always growing urban stain, but has the magic of the Mexican folk art on its streets, its architecture and all its traditions, including food and crafts. The touristic attractions include the Saint Peter Parrish, the Hidalgo Garden, the Cultural Center ''El Refugio'', the Pantaleon Panduro Museum, Our Lady of Solitude Sanctuary, the Municipal Palace, the gastronomic center ''El Parian'' and the Ceramic Regional Museum.

Plastic Tradition in TlaquepaqueTlaquepaque's soil is responsible for the name of the place, since for some authors it translates as ''place located over mud or clay hills'' and for others it translates as ''mud or clay pottery makers''. Truth is, the land over which the town is built upon, has given the inhabitants the material for its production for centuries. The name that Tlaquepaque has earned as a pottery production site comes from the 19th. Century, when the town was officially constituted from three ranchos and several small villages, but its production has evolved to practically every plastic art, from traditional little pot jars, to fabrics, blown glass, sculptures, furniture, paintings and architectural designs.

Plastic Tradition in TlaquepaqueIn the 1880's decade, the self taught artist Pantaleon Panduro, made the town pottery arts climb toward the fine arts with his clay sculptures and portraits. It is told, even that the president of Mexico in that time, Porfirio Diaz, was amazed and grateful for a sculpture made of him, and granted Pantaleon Panduro to enjoy the opulent presidential life for one day. Part of Panduro's works were showcased at the Universal Exposition of Paris in 1889, this made his name sound loud inside the international scene of fine arts, and his work has been widely showcased and acknowledged internationally ever since.

Plastic Tradition in TlaquepaqueTlaquepaque's plastic arts have grown beyond Pantaleon Panduro with his own family members and with other renown pottery artists and sculptors such as Guillermo Pajar ''Pajarito'', Salvador Ruiz Velasco and Narciso Hernandez, among others. Nowadays a whole new industry of Tlaquepaque's fine arts is being commercialized in many countries, as occurs with the sculptures of Sergio Bustamante, who lives in Jalisco since his childhood and distributes his art in Mexico, the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Plastic Tradition in TlaquepaqueToys, dolls, bags, serapes, iron works and fine furniture are also part of Tlaquepaque's creative stock, where the authentic classical Mexican flavor is never lost in spite of the modern designs. There is a whole bunch of local shops and stores emerging here, which create high quality decorative objects, specially manufactured for big hotel companies, important corporate offices and also for single buyers who wish to flaunt exclusive decorative elements on their homes with the quality that can only be found in Tlaquepaque.

Plastic Tradition in TlaquepaqueMany years ago in Mexico, it was usual to hear the phrase: ''Tlaquepaque's little pot jar'' used as an expression of frailty, completed with sentences like these: ''As sensitive as a...'' or ''You touch her and she breaks apart like a...''. Today, these phrases are completely ironic, since artisans and fine artists from Tlaquepaque have developed a whole culture of high quality in their crafts and works, up to a degree where, becoming an owner of a little pot jar, a whole set of dishes or even a sculpture from Tlaquepaque, is now a proof of having good taste in art and a high cultural status. This town's art has reached beyond the little pot jars, and has become a legacy of the work and creativity of Mexicans to the world.

By Luiser de la Garza