In just one month, AANY will hold its ninth Arte a Mano arts show in Merida. This fabulous show is a great opportunity to buy an absolutely unique gift for someone you love, and at the same time support a local Yucatan artist. If you are like us, you will probably end up buying more for yourself and your home than for someone else, as so many wonderful things are offered at these shows.
All year long, the Selection Committee of AANY (a legal Mexican non-profit, in case you were wondering) scours the Yucatan Peninsula for new artists. This year, on December 1 and 2, AANY will present 12 new participants, bringing the total to 64 exhibiting artists, the biggest show they have put on to date. As AANY regulars know, the show features only three-dimensional craft work. There are no paintings, no photography, and no clothing lines. You won’t find huipiles or guayaberas here… these works are often quite non-traditional for the area, and often straddle that line between craft and art.
The mission of AANY is to help artists develop their marketing skills, presentations, and product development. We can add to what we hear is the consensus of the attending public… the AANY shows get better every time. There are certain artists that have shown there from the beginning whose work we love, and there is always something new to discover. We don’t like every style of art we see there, but we are quite amazed at the variety, quality and affordability of the pieces in the show. The shows have a mixture of traditional village artists, making things like baskets and decorated jicaras (gourds that grow on trees), and studio artists making everything from jewelry to stained glass. At the last show, we added a pair of earrings, two baskets, a small wooden sculpture and a woven reed mat to our personal collection of AANY purchases. The baskets and reed mat were straight out of the villages, made in traditional ways that have been followed here for centuries. The earrings would not have been out of place in a boutique in Soho, and the wooden sculpture was a naive art treasure.
Among the new artists this year are Santos Estebán Chuch and his wife, Estela Ay Chan, from Yaxunah, Quintana Roo. Santos learned to carve the animals and birds of the Yucatan by studying the school books his children brought home, and Estela learned to paint them accordingly. Cibele Rosa, of Merida, designs very stylish and contemporary jewelry and handbags made from recycled inner tubes. Eulogio Chi Tzel and his wife Manuela Pool Mijanes, of Becal in Campeche, will be exhibiting their exquisite hats and other products made of jipi, perfecting a traditional craft that this area is famous for. This couple is widely recognized as masters in this craft and have consistently won prizes in State and National competitions. If you ever wanted to buy the perfect hat here, you won’t want to miss their exhibit. Omar Catzim, of Cholul in Yucatan, will feature hand-carved stone pieces that are ideal for patios and gardens… not something a tourist will want, but perfect for those of us who live here!
Each artist at the show pays a minimal booth charge to be included, but all the other proceeds go directly to them. However, the costs of the show exceed the income from those booth charges. To cover the difference, AANY has partnered this year with four luxury hotels who are supporting AANY by providing rooms as raffle prizes. Four winners will enjoy two nights for two at either Hacienda Xcanatun, Rosas and Xocolate, Hotel Santo Domingo in Izamal or Casa Quetzal in Valladolid. Win all four and you’ve got the perfect Yucatan vacation! Tickets are on sale at MEL, the Slow Food Market, Monique’s Bakery, and of course at the show itself. The winners will be chosen at 5PM on Sunday, December 2nd at the closing of the show. Tickets are $50 pesos each or 10 for $450 pesos.
The AANY Facebook page (www.facebook.com/aanymerida) is updated regularly with information about participating artists, the history of AANY, and information about Great Escapes raffle. The director of the show, Joan Farrell, can be reached at joanfarrell792 [at] yahoo [dot] com.
The ninth AANY craft show, Arte a Mano (Art by Hand), is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, December 1-2. It will be held again at CANACO, Avenida Itzáes X 31. Hours are 10AM to 7PM both days. Don’t miss it!