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Antonio de la Cruz, Depicting the History of Mexico, En Calavera

January 15, 2003

On the side of a mountain, overlooking the village of Capula, Michoacán, the de la Cruz family resides in a warm adobe home surrounded by a courtyard, fruit tress and flowers…and the all-important taller and horno (workshop and oven) from where the greatest Catrina clay art in Mexico emerges.

Alvaro de la Cruz is the maestro who has taught his children well, each working in the Catrina form, and each in their own distinctive style. It is Antonio who has taken the direction of creating historically accurate dancers, scenes and figures from Mexican history and life, en calavera.

It is nearly impossible to persuade Antonio to have his photo taken. I catch him while working, and he quickly lowers his head in my next shot.

Perhaps the most-creative child in a very creative family, Antonio's ideas are so original and ambitious in their detail, that he is pushing the art form to another level. In the summer of 2002, we watched as he painstaking created a caballero atop his steed, herding an ox while a barking dog chased at its tail. All proportions were exactly accurate, and his study of anatomy was evident in each animal and figure, muscles rippling and tendons visible. Unfortunately due to the rains, the piece was not able to be completed in time for the Annual Clay Arts Competition (Concurso) in Capula.

But any creation by the shy, quiet and patient young man is of prize-winning quality. Only 26 years old, we can only wonder to what levels his art will aspire.

By Debra Hall

ZOCALO Fine Folk Art
San Miguel de Allende, MEXICO
Pátzcuaro, MEXICO