DE LA CRUZ, MAESTRO DE LA TIERRA, LAS CATRINAS
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 trees and flowers
the all-important taller and horno (workshop and oven) from where the
greatest clay catrina art in Mexico emerges.
||Alvaro de la Cruz
is the maestro who has taught his children well, each working in the
catrina art form, and each in their own distinctive style. All in
their twenties, their work noticeably commands higher prices due to
the fineness, detail, and time spent on each piece. The senior de
la Cruz learned the trade from famous artist Juan Torres, who is credited
with creating the catrinas in clay, but now employs over 5 artisans
to make the catrinas while he resides in Monterrey, Mexico visiting
once a month to sign his work. In contrast the de la Cruz family patiently
works piece by piece, fulfilling orders a mano, by hand.
||First, the base of the figure
is formed in a mold, with all other details formed by hand.
the maestro himself goes to work fashioning every rosary, candle,
cross and flower with patience
especially when it comes to his
beloved Galleros cradling a most realistic rooster with flowing plumage.
Alvaro works in large format making
catrinas approximately 1 ½ feet to 2 feet tall. While all of his
catrina creations are superior, he has particularly made a name for himself
by fashioning nuns and bishops, en calavera.
His work is in such demand,
work is only received by order with payment in advance. As a true
artist, we must respect that Alvaro is not inspired to make gallero
after gallero as the public demands, but must be allowed to explore
new ideas and techniques while still fulfilling his commercial obligations
to stores such as Zócalo. It is common for four or more months
to pass from the time an order is placed until we receive the completed
catrinas, and three to four visits to Capula are required.
Three monjas, nuns, patiently
drying in the de la Cruz taller.
This is only a comment on the time
it takes to create such detailed pieces, the role the weather plays, and
then the meticulous packing required in order to transport these treasures
to San Miguel de Allende.
||On our last trip
during Muertos, Rick and I were privileged to see Alvaro's latest
ideas; a stunning matador, and the Pope himself, en calavera. Naturally,
we immediately ordered both.
|While patience, delicate handling,
and a place your cat or children can never reach is required for an
Alvaro de la Cruz catrina
the joy of living with any of his repertoire
of calacas (skeletons) is so worth the effort!
By Debra Hall
ZOCALO Fine Folk Art
San Miguel de Allende, MEXICO