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Colectika is featuring two legendary Oaxaca wood carvers, Jacobo and María del Carmen Angeles, on Wednesday, February 27, 6 - 10 pm, a unique opportunity to meet two of the most successful, most collected folk artists in Mexico.

Collectors from around the world have learned to appreciate the primitive art created in small villages by a number of ethnic groups around Mexico. New infrastructure, cellular technology and satellite TV, however, are connecting these villages—previously completely isolated—with the outside world, resulting with a myriad of new, artistic ideas.

Many of these can be grouped in a specific trend, known as Ancestral Contemporary, a movement headed by a handful of artists who are taking the traditional folk art that their ancestors have done for years, and making it modern. Undoubtedly one of the best examples today of the Ancestral Contemporary movement is Jacobo Angeles and his wife Maria del Carmen. Together they have single-handedly taken the traditional Oaxacan wood carving to a whole new level.

Manuel Jimenez may be considered the founder of the wood carving tradition in Oaxaca but it was Jacobo and Maria who took the primitive carvings and turned them into what can only be considered fine art because of the amazing detail in their painting.

Jacobo and Maria live in San Martin Tilcajete, a Zapotec Indian village about 45min. from the city of Oaxaca. When a baby is born in the village, they are given a small animal that is their totem. Today's wood carvings, according to Jacobo, evolved out of this tradition. Jacobo began carving with his father. But he was catapulted into the limelight at age 12, with his father's passing. This forced the young man to go out on his own to provide for his family.

His indigenous or Zapotec style has been heavily influenced by the patterns found in Mitla, the ancient Zapotec city famous for its geometric patterns. The copal wood that Jacobo uses for all of his carvings has always been considered sacred. Large trunks are used to make big carvings but Jacobo prefers branches because he can use the natural curves to bring his carvings to life.

Virtually everyone in the village is in the wood carving business but it’s Jacobo and Maria's natural paints and incredible attention to detail, however, that makes their pieces even more attractive to collectors. It is absolutely incredible to watch Jacobo demonstrate how some of the natural pigments are created. From the bark of the copal tree he can create yellow by adding lime and honey. Black is created by adding calcium and purple by adding baking soda. The most important and probably best recognized natural pigment is the cochinilla, an insect that grows on the nopal cactus, over 60 shades of red can be created using this insect.

Jacobo and Maria's pieces are prominently displayed in galleries and museums including the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, the Smithsonian Native American Museum and the Santa Fe International Museum of Folk Art to name just a few.

Colectika is located at Guadalupe Sánchez 858, in El Centro.

Source: Kevin Simpson