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Saulo Moreno

Written July 14, 2002 by Deb Hall

Saulo Moreno is one of the most collectable and recognized folk artists working today in Mexico, yet also one of the most elusive and least prolific of the great Mexican folk artists. At 68-70 years old (his exact age is in question), he is strong, animated, and philosophical, but the fact that he has five children, the youngest being one year old, is a deterrent to his ability to produce folk art on a regular basis. He is currently much more preoccupied with providing shelter for his family…it is the rainy season.

After an impressive academic and cultural career in Mexico City, Saulo turned his back on university politics and urban life after the death of his wife of 30 years from cancer. He then moved to a (very) remote village near the Estado de México/Michoacán state line, remarried, started a family late in life and has remained in the mountains ever since. Rick and myself are among the few (Mexican or otherwise) who have visited Saulo regularly at home, others include author, Chloë Sayer, and Rocky Behr, owner of The Folk Tree in Pasadena, California. I will simply state that this family is living in the most primitive and poorest conditions we have ever witnessed. That being said, Saulo Moreno is a scholar, a true artistic genius, slightly reclusive, and above all…eccentric.

I share the following rare quote discovered on a Mexican website…

Wire and paper are the chosen materials of Saulo Moreno, who devotes himself chiefly to the theme of death and regeneration. He was speaking for many of his contemporaries when he gave his views in a recent interview. "It might seem simplistic to say that we are descended from a race of artists, but as Mexicans we definitely feel a need to express ourselves. High art is exhibited in galleries, so people approach it with awe...But I think more respect should be given to the "arts of people". Authentic popular art is the work of individual creators: the time for anonymity has passed. We need to rid ourselves of the idea that artesanía (craftwork) should be anonymous and its creators nameless"

The above quote perfectly states his disdain for the categorization of high and low art by Mexico City's "art establishment".

Some of the best documentation of Saulo's work appears in the annually published calendar by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Work. Excellent photos appear for the months of January, February, and May 2002. Available on Amazon.com…and he will surely be included again in the 2003 Calendar.

There are many more stories that I could tell of Saulo's disdain for the politics of art, the museums and academia, but hopefully this glimpse is enough to intrigue one to further investigate this unique man and his most-original work. As for Rick and I, Saulo is one of our favorite people in the world.

We will be visiting Saulo again soon and hope to retrieve more extraordinary work for Zócalo. We are very proud and fortunate to have a sizable selection of Saulo Moreno figures, sculptures and mobiles available.
Rick and Saulo, undoubtedly arguing politics
and the state of Mexican folk art today.

 

Deb Hall
Co-owner
ZOCALO Fine Folk Art
San Miguel de Allende, MEXICO
Pátzcuaro, MEXICO
www.zocalofolkart.com

Update as of November 2007:
When I originally penned this story in 2002, it seemed that Saulo's invented style of folk art would end with him.  Since then, oldest son Mario has emerged as an artisan as talented and creative as father Saulo...and so the art that is "uniquely Moreno" will continue with the next generation.

As time passes, Saulo has become less hermetic and shows up at fiestas and weddings with his family in tow.