AANY Show, December 2011
Once again, the AANY committee (Amigos de Artistas/Artesanos Nuevos de Yucatan) has been laboring for months to present the biggest and best ever Arte A Mano holiday show. We thought a short article was in order to give you some idea about what is new and different about this show from the ones that have gone before it.
First, the hours. On both Saturday, December 3rd, and Sunday, December 4th, the show will be open from 10AM to 9PM! The decision to extend the hours was made to accommodate a growing local Yucatecan audience, as well as the night owls among our foreign community.
Last year, the promised food vendor never arrived... the producers of AANY are still embarassed about that. This year, the question of food has finally been resolved. A venerable local restaurant, La Terracita Azul, has agreed to provide food service for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They will offer comida tipica (Yucatecan cuisine), including cochinita, as well as beverages including wine and beer. There will even be pastries in the morning to go with your coffee. Now Arte A Mano diehards can shop till they drop, get some nourishment, and keep on shopping!
This year, many of the exhibiting artists are set up to be able to accept VISA and Mastercard, but still not American Express! This is a huge step forward in providing services for the public and will solve the problem for those who run out of cash but want to buy more. You might have thought you were the only one this happened to, but no, it is apparently a common occurence.
As Arte A Mano has grown, so have expenses. For funds, the AANY committee has depended on personal donations and a small fee paid by artists for table space. Unfortunately, this does not cover space rental, advertising, housing for out-of-town artists and more. Instead of sponsoring a fund raising event this year, the AANY committee will be asking for a “suggested donation” of $10 pesos at the entrance – as a gesture of thanks, donors will be given little tokens made by the artists.
And finally, the difference that you have been waiting for: a rundown on some of the new artists that will be exhibiting. The Selection Committee (Joan Farrell, Craig Laberge, Tonia Kimsey and Lexy Benoit) has spent the last year travelling the Peninsula, gone to endless férias, visited homes and studios... and no, we do NOT feel sorry for them. What we are happy about is that they have come up with some wonderful new exhibitors, a few of which we can tell you about.
There are four new artists from Quintana Roo. Celso Kumul Caamal (Buena Vista) carves beautiful serving pieces, bowls,and utensils out of native hardwood. Renato Leonor Jimenez (Huay-Pix) is also a wood carver but creates lovely decorative pieces adorned with turtles, birds, and fish. David Calderón Uc (from Cozumel) is a prize-winning certified master of black coral, and creates both sculptural pieces and jewelry. Jésus Rivero Pérez (from Chetumal) creates a variety of objects out of tiny coconuts.
There will new and returning artists from the state of Yucatan. Carlos Ramos Duran (of Mérida), a master silver filigree artist, will feature his jewelry and sculptural work. A note about Carlos... his father is featured in the legendary Banamex book on Masters of Mexican Folk Art and Carlos will be featured in the future new edition! So we are lucky to have him and his work at the show. Sergio Pech Cetz (also from Mérida) adorns his frames, boxes, clocks, etc., with humorous faceless mestizas. Isaac Navarro (from Maxcanu) handcarves handsome stone planters. Manuel Gómez León (of Mérida) creates a wonderful world of scrapmetal fantasy – animals, cars, trucks, caricatures and his always popular Don Quixote. Guillermo Pisté (Ditzya) will feature his elegant turned wood vessels and Jorge Najera (Xcanatun) turns green palm leaves into stylish hats embellished with fanciful crickets, birds and fish. Of course many artists we know and love so well will exhibit familiar work and new creations. Bigger than ever, this December's Arte A Mano show will have 60 exhibiting artists.
AANY is a Mexican non-profit and is a completely volunteer effort. The mission of AANY is to promote and help develop fine craft in the Yucatan. Four years and six shows ago, there were 25 artists at our one-day event and a public of under 500 people. There is now a stable of almost 80 AANY artists, though not all appear at all events. We now count on a public of 2-3,000 at our two-day shows, including a growing Mexican audience.
Artists have grown enormously in their displays, with help from the AANY members. The Set-up Committee, headed by Craig Laberge and Lexy Benoit, works with a team of volunteers to help artists with their presentations, which get better each time. The importance of introducing new work has been a constant goal and the artists proudly grow with each show. Of critical importance is that buyers attend Arte A Mano to find new merchandise for their galleries and stores, as well as for personal items and holiday gifts.
Not enough can be said for the support of Yucatan Living and Yucatan Today. Both always provide wonderful coverage of the AANY shows, and are responsible for the every-growing attendance at the shows. For the December show, Henry and Rosa Wangeman, owners of Amate bookstores in Mérida and Oaxaca, have become major sponsors. Amate is an amazing resource for Mexican and Latin American books translated into English. Anyone who has visited either of their stores, knows that their passion also extends to the world of handcraft. At their stores, they present a wonderful array of craft from Oaxaca, where they live, and now, they have become sponsors of the AANY shows.
AANY artists are lending their support as well. Many have created little artworks for a presentation called Arte a Media Carta (half page art). These will be sold all for the same price of $150 pesos at the entrance to the show. The fun is that they will be signed only on the back so the creator is a secret until the piece is bought!
Nothing can be written about Arte A Mano without acknowledging the myriad of volunteers who work to make it happen. The AANY Committee, headed by Joan Farrell, consists of Craig Laberge, Lexy Benoit, Tonia Kimsey, Luz María Martinez Malo, Deborah Thompson, Fernando Solis, Evalynn and Bill Engle, Silvia Solis, Cristina Solis, Geny Mena, and Norma Peralta. Deborah has the thankless task of organizing dozens of volunteers to man the AANY welcome table at the entrance. The tireless Men´s Club President, Roger Bowie, has always rounded up a team of strong men to help set-up and tear down. It takes a village, and here in Merida we have one!
AANY now has a Facebook page too. Watch for new stories and announcements, which you will kept apprised of if you "like" their page. But most importantly, the volunteers and the artists of AANY want you to come, enjoy, buy, eat and share at the December 3-4 holiday Arte A Mano!
The next AANY show will be held on December 3 and 4 at CANACO, Avenida Itzaes X Calle 31, three blocks south of Clinica de Mérida. The entrance and free parking are on Calle 31.
Amate Bookstore is located at Calle 60 at 51 in the historic center of Merida.