April 2nd and 3rd 2011 mark the sixth "ARTE A MANO" show! As always, AANY (Amigos de Artistas/Artesanos Nuevos de Yucatan) will present a carefully chosen array of fine craft artists from all over the Yucatan Peninsula. Work in all media will be represented, including wood, metal, fiber, glass, paper maché, clay, etc. As always, there will be a mix of rural as well as studio work. At this next show over fifty artists will exhibit, including ten new artists from Campeche and Quintana Roo that have never participated before in AANY shows.
Three Years of AANY Successes
In three short years, ARTE A MANO has established itself as a major cultural event in Merida, presenting two shows a year (Fall and Spring). AANY, A.C., the sponsoring organization, was formed to identify unique craft artists and to provide a venue for them to exhibit and expand their market. In the beginning the AANY board was, of course, unsure of their market and whether there was a need for this type of event. Now the group can proudly point to the following achievements:
- the record sales at shows proves that there is a strong market for fine craft work
- the artists have proven that they can and do improve and diversify their work and presentation with each show
- there is now a public recognition of what is basically the creation of a craft movement on the Yucatan Peninsula
- the entire community, both foreign and Yucatecan, is involved in putting on the shows and working for the betterment of craft artists.
The AANY Committees
The AANY committee of eight works year round, but there is a virtual army of volunteers that come out seasonally and make the shows possible. AANY is a legal Mexican non-profit organization. Director Joan Farrell is involved in every aspect of producing the show. She works closely with the Selection Committee to choose participating artists, coordinates public relations, attends meeting with the artists, and travels wherever necessary to find new work. The Selection Committee consists of Craig Laberge, Lexy Benoit, Tonia Kimsey, and Joan. Craig and Lexy together arrange the placement of tables and, with other volunteers, work individually with artists to perfect their displays. Deborah Thompson is responsible for organizing volunteers at the show. Fernando Solis, our CPA, handles the finances and works intensely to raise funds from local businesses. Silvia Solis and Cristina Solis work endlessly on marketing and promotion.
The AANY Community
Each and every board members fills in where necessary, but this could not be done without enormous assistance from the community. The Merida Men´s Club has been critically important from the very first day. The day before each show, ten to fifteen strong Merida men are there to help place eighty-five tables and tablecloths and two hundred chairs. When the show is finished, these stalwart souls are there again to help dismantle the show – and they have it down to a science. In about an hour all tables and chairs are neatly stacked and ready for pick up.
The International Women´s Club has always been there to publicize ARTE A MANO events and members always attend in record numbers. The Merida English Library as well can always be counted on to notify members of the events and post information at the Library. Yucatan Living does its part by bringing the shows to their readers’ attention, with articles like this one and photos and reminders in their Events listings.
The AANY Volunteers
There is a long list of volunteers who not only help with set-up and tear-down, but also host the AANY welcome table and are available to assist artists when necessary. If the “welcome” sandwiches and drinks have to be passed out to arriving artists, volunteers are there to do it. If badges have to be distributed, volunteers are there to do it. If artists need help with their displays, again, the volunteers are there to do it.
The AANY Artists Working Together
Last, but by no means least, are the artists themselves. In the beginning there were those that felt it would never be possible to get the Mexicans to work together, but time has proven exactly the opposite. AANY artists are a strong, deeply bonded group that wants above all for this movement to continue and to grow. They help in a myriad of ways. They help with communications with the rural artists, who have only the use of a relative´s cell phone, and who may speak more Maya than Spanish. The artists themselves help with either providing or finding housing for those who need it. They help by sending out email announcements to their own contact lists. Artists attend regular meetings to work out guidelines for the shows and find ways that they can help with the thankless job of raising funds to cover the costs of the shows. The prevailing attitude is that they will do anything it takes to assure the future of AANY, which has become an important part of their lives.
The Community Wins
All who participate in the ARTE A MANO shows come away feeling that the shows are indeed of, by and for the entire community. As a measure of success, it must be pointed out that attendance at the very first show was 450. Last November attendance topped 2,000 shoppers. We hope this next Spring show will continue the trend… it just doesn´t get any better than this.
Dates: Saturday, April 2nd 2011, 10AM-7PM; Sunday April 3rd 2011, 10AM-6PM.
Location: CANACO (Chamber of Commerce) on Avenida Itzaes and Calle 31, 3 blocks south of Clinica Merida.
Admission: Free! And free parking on Calle 31. Food and beverages available.