Updated January 1, 2013


News / Social Notes




Second Edition of The Artistry and History of Mata Ortiz available

John Bezy and Stuart Scott have published a second edition of their book, The Artistry and History of Mata Ortiz.  The have added twelve additional artists to the book, a new regional map, and several large-format photos.  The price for this edition remains the same--$29.95 retail, with 40% discount for wholesale.


The Women of Mata Ortiz

Karen Q. Jones recently published her book The Women of Mata Ortiz – Stirring the Pot. Look under “Jones” on the publication page for ordering information.


Roberto Hernandez’ wood pieces now available in Tucson

Well known wood worker Roberto Hernandez, brother of Mata Ortiz potter Gloria Hernandez, now has seven pieces of his work on display at Bakers Fine Furniture in Tucson (2303 East Grant Road). Roberto was a featured artist in The Magnetism of Mata Ortiz.


Gathering of the Friends of Mata Ortiz

About fifty people attended the 16th annual Gathering of the Friends of Mata Ortiz over the weekend of October 5-7. Diana Acosta arranged for a special tour of Paquimé the afternoon before the Gathering and on Friday she had set up pottery demonstrations in the village. Dick O’Conner set up a Friday visit to petroglyphs in the area. Friday night the group had a wonderful reception dinner along the Palanganas River at the home on Phil and Jeanne Stover.

Saturday morning, nearly everyone attended short and very interesting history presentations at the Hacienda de San Diego. Later, those interested were at the Posada de las Ollas to discuss trader and marketing issues. In the afternoon, Jorge Quintana discussed and demonstrated pottery techniques and secrets at his gallery. Early afternoon, Spencer MacCallum led a tour of the convent ruins north of Casas Grandes and then its new replica, La Iglesia Nuestra Señor de la Divina Misericordia (Church of our Lord of Devine Mercy). Ron Bridgemon and Dave Nelson provided attendees with a walking tour guide to the murals of Casas Grandes. Carmela Wallace hosted the group for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at her beautiful home in Casa Grandes. The gathering then moved to the MacCallums’ Casa Nopal for a wonderful goat roast.

On Sunday, a brunch was held at Maria Pinedo’s house in Barrio Porvenir. Maria was not able to attend at the last minute, so several potters from the barrio volunteered and prepared a wonderful meal of pasole.

Most agreed this was one of the most successful Gatherings ever, and it is likely that this focus group format along with primarily social interaction will continue in the future. Check out the Calendar’s Facebook page to view pictures of the event and the Casas Grandes murals.


Amerind Museum’s 75th Anniversary Celebration

Nearly 1,000 people attended the free celebration of the Amerind Museum’s 75th anniversary on Oct. 21. Mata Ortiz potter Oralia Lopez conducted demonstrations and she and John Bezy had pottery for sale. Native Americans performed tribal dances and many other vendors and demonstrators were present. One of the highlights was the three new monitors that showed continuous videos. One gave a history of the Museum, a second presented the Amerind’s excavation of Paquimé, and the third showed the changes in the village of Mata Ortiz that have occurred since 1978 when the Amerind sponsored the first pottery concurso. All three videos were produced by the Museum’s new Associate Curator, Ron S. Bridgemon.


To commemorative their 75th anniversary, the Amerind published a beautiful 94 page book entitled Amerind at 75! The book details the history and accomplishments of the Museum.



Mata Ortiz Grupo Siete AC


On September 5, Mata Ortiz Grupo Siete AC announced a raffle to be held on October 7 during the annual Gathering of the Friends of Mata Ortiz. The raffle is being conducted in support of their La Puerta de Mata Ortiz project, the construction design of an entryway monument to the village. The design of the monument will honor the engineering knowledge and building techniques that have been used from prehispanic to the present time by the inhabitants of the region. The raffle prize will be ten signed pieces, one each from the members of Grupo Siete, so you know the art will be of the highest quality. Raffle tickets are $50 (or peso equivalent) each. Tickets will be drawn out of a drum and the third ticket drawn will win the entire ten piece collection. Make sure you get your ticket at the Gathering and support this worthy project.


Grupo Siete is pleased and honored to thank everyone for helping to enrich Mata Ortiz cultural legacy through Education. The project University for Mata Ortiz was very successful in raising funds to provide scholarships to 15 new university students for this semester (August- December 2012). With this, the students were able to pay their entry fees to their respective universities.


So on the students’ behalf and their community, Grupo Siete AC thanks all the contributors.


2012 Tlaquepaque Winners


Diana Acosta informs us that four potters are winners in the Premio Nacional de Ceramica 2012 that was held in June at Tlaquepaque, Jalisco. Congratulations to Norma Cecilia Hernandez Lucero, Estrella Silveira, Eli Navarrete, and Chistina Lopez. Winning categories and prizes will be announced July 6 in Tlaquepaque.  Watch the Calendar for the announcement or check Diana’s Facebook page after July 6. [NOTE: for those of you who keep updated on northwest Chihuahua news via the website akronoticias.com, they apparently announced the 2012 winners on June 28th by erroneously publishing the 2010 list of winners.] 


Computers needed for the new High School


The Mata Ortiz Foundation is launching a fund raising drive for computers and the computer lab at the new high school.  Previously, the Foundation has helped build a library, a middle-school classroom, a middle-school computer room and a kindergarten building in the village – all very successful projects thanks to the generosity of many of the Friends of Mata Ortiz. Now there is a new project -- the expansion of the high school. Last fall a new two-room high school opened on the hill above the village next to the middle school. A bus was provided to bring students from Colonia Juárez and other nearby areas. Immediately the school was overcrowded. It lacks adequate classrooms and labs. However, there is a commitment to education in the village that did not exist a few years ago. Mata Ortiz leaders, parents, and the local government have embarked on a $75,000 facilities program to meet the needs. Walter Parks finds this amazing as he remembers just a few years ago when three students began riding an old bus to Nuevo Casas – the first ever to attend high school from the village. Last March, the Foundation Advisors met with the nonprofit group in Mata Ortiz, Unidos por Mata Ortiz. The Foundation agreed to provide a grant for $6,000 for computers and the computer lab. This commitment is small in relation to the total program, but the Advisors feel it is realistic during these times. These are not great times for fund raising, but whatever we can do will make a difference. Checks should be made out to the Mata Ortiz Foundation and sent to Walter Parks, Mata Ortiz Foundation Advisor, 6154 Hawarden Dr., Riverside, CA 92506.


Chihuahua event in New York


Well-known chef Zarela Martinez organized an event in New York City that promoted Chihuahua’s rich culture. It was a weeklong series of presentations during June 3-9 called Chihuahua Querida. In conjunction with The Mexico Tourism Board and the Mexican Cultural Institute on whose board Zarela serves, she organized a series of events to highlight Chihuahua’s food, drink, art, and beautiful landscapes. She was assisted by Carmela Wallace of Casas Grandes. Carmela and Zarela grew up together in Chihuahua.


On June 7, presentations about the Casas Grandes region, Copper Canyon, and archaeology sites were made by Carmela Wallace, Ron Bridgemon, Elsa Rodriquez, and Dave Hensley at Centrico, the restaurant of Zarela’s son Aaron Sanchez, star of programs on the Food Network. Diego Valles conducted a day-long workshop the following day. The entire event put Chihuahua in a much more favorable light than has been done by the media recently.


Check out Raechel Running’s video, Chihuahua Querida 2012, which she put together for the New York event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utQvR2f8A4I




Sierra Vista newspaper article


The June 4th Sierra Vista Herald (Arizona) contained an article regarding the safety of tourists traveling to Sonora and Chihuahua. While reporter Jonathon Shacat used information in the Calendar, he also interviewed individuals who routinely travel to these two Mexican states and encounter absolutely no problems.


Sotol TV program


Azteca television recently produced a program (Spanish) on Chihuahua’s official alcoholic drink – sotol. The 30 minute program features Don Cuco Sotol and Hacienda Sotol and follows the entire process from collecting the Desert Spoon piñas to the distillation process. Included in the film are Celso and Jacob Jaquez of Don Cuco in the hills and at their ranch and distillery in Janos. The program can be viewed on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScxEW_va9vY


July/August Archaeology magazine


The newest issue of Archaeology has an article about Paquimé and what effect the drug violence has had on field work in northern Mexico. The article is titled “Archaeology, Interrupted” and authored by Kathleen McGuire, daughter of Randall McGuire. See the July/August 2012 issue.


May Smithsonian article


With Mitt Romney’s run for the presidency, the media has been giving a great deal of coverage to his relatives in the Mormon colonies of Chihuahua. The reporter for this article (May 2012) used Colonia Juárez resident and guide John Hatch to show him around the area.


School Literacy Program – Proyecto Cervantes


Mata Ortiz’ elementary school’s library program, Project Cervantes, is sponsored by Casa Aurora Publications. Casa Aurora founders Ana Livingston Paddock and Carlotta Boettcher recently brought in over 230 new children’s books to the village library in support of the project. Librarian Patricia Ortega is writing tests and keeping attendance records for those students participating in the Proyecto Cervantes reading program. Goyin Silveira, parent body president, met with parents to encourage them to have their children participate in the program. Presidente Javier Mendoza has donated three new bicycles as prizes to be raffled to those students with the best library attendance this season. De Silva Imports owner Steve Thompson has donated a special Proyecto Cervantes banner for the school’s June 29th graduation ceremony.


 Academic Competition in Mata Ortiz


Steve Savel visited Mata Ortiz during the last week in March with a small group that included Dick O’Connor and Walter Parks. He attended an academic competition at the Telesecudaria called Olympiadad. He reports here: There were teams of students from about seven different telesecundarias in attendance at the host school in Mata Ortiz. I observed the final preparation by the teams to do a presentation of 15 minutes in front of a good size “audience.” The topics were in Environmental Sciences and very well done by the students. There were three judges who scored and then recognized teams for excellence.  The Mata Ortiz teams did well!

After the competition the director of the school had me join her in her office in one of the computer lab rooms that the (Mata Ortiz) Foundation helped fund. The last time I was in the lab, Dell computers had just arrived and were still in boxes. Now I saw the computers being used by students for after school work. What was really impressive and unexpected was the “adult” computer class that was in session. The young ladies in attendance were very involved with the instruction and the teacher was great.


Mata Ortiz Grupo Siete AC


Diego Valles supplied the following information regarding Grupo Siete.

It was also about time Mata Ortiz had its own people working on their behalf. We heard so many times and from many sources all the good things others were doing to help Mata Ortiz and how we were going to be included in their projects and such, and people is realizing it will not happen unless we do it. Because although we are focusing on putting Mata Ortiz in the contemporary art world, we will also be working on fixing community needs, from education to the way the village looks.

The first project we have regarding education is UNIVERSITY FOR MATA ORTIZ; it really means that if we cannot have a university here in town, we can still take all of our students through university. So we are raising funds to do so with activities like the pots sale at the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Those pots are donated by the members of the group by the way.

We are accepting donations as well, and since we are a non-profit organization legally formed we are giving tax deductible receipts to donors.


Members (from left): Gregorio Silveira Hernandez, Maria Graciela Martinez Quezada, Diego Gerardo Valles Trevizo (President), Carla Martinez Vargas, Jesús Armando Valles Trevizo, Celia Ivón Veloz Sáenz (Secretary), Hector Gallegos Martinez (Treasurer)


Diego Valles at Taliesin in Scottsdale, Arizona


Diego Valles has received a grant to do his artwork at Taliesin as part of the Taliesin Artist Residency Program (TARP). In conjunction with the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, TARP invites experienced visual artists to engage and respond to the unique characteristics of the architectural sites of Taliesin and Taliesin West and their vibrant communities.

TARP is open to visual artists living in the U.S. or abroad with a graduate-level academic background and/or a record of work within the art field, focusing on site-specific installations and contemporary works.

Diego will be working at Taliesin during the fall session which is during November and December with a possibility of an extension. At the end of the stay, he will have a show to present the work done during the residency. Diego is very proud to be the first potter to be included in such a program, mostly because it is a program for contemporary artwork, which affirms the position about his work as contemporary, same as that of others from Mata Ortiz.




Mata Ortiz Maps


As reported earlier in the Calendar, Dave Nelson’s computer expertise has allowed him to combine imagery of the village with potter’s homes and local services. This interactive map of Mata Ortiz was accomplished with the help of several part-time American residents and potters of Mata Ortiz. At present, there are two resources available to you, both apparently helped by Dave’s pioneering efforts.


The first version is viewable within the Agave Lindo website. You can go directly to the map page at www.agavelindotours.com/mata_ortiz_map.html. You can search for the home of your favorite potter as well as locate various village services. The map is a work in progress and Dave welcomes your comments, input, and corrections. The entire website will be of great valuable if this is your first visit to the region.


If you are already familiar with Mata Ortiz and are looking for a particular potter, Casa Aurora Publications has created a website where you can download maps. Go to http://www.mataortizmap.com.  The site also has a nice slide show of the village.



Grupo Siete

Learn about this new non-profit organization on the Editorial Archives page (April 2012).



Corazones Alegres (Happy Hearts)

Learn about the activities of this group on the Editorial Archives page (April 2012).



Casa Aurora Publications & Centro Cultural

Carlotta Boettcher and Ana Livingston Paddock have established an independent publishing house and exhibition space with a focus on history, culture, art, and photography located in Mata Ortiz. To date they have published Mata Ortiz: The Art of Survival – The Survival of Art, Volume 1, Graciela & Hector Gallegos and Invoking the Ancestors.  See the Publications page for information about these two books or visit their website: http://www.casaaurorapublications.com


Peterson Film Wins Award!

Congratulations to Scott Peterson! His film, The Renaissance of Mata Ortiz, received the Directors’ Choice Award for Best Arts Film at the prestigious Sedona International Film Festival held February 18-26. http://www.sedonafilmfestival.com/Page.asp?NavID=134


Both Sedona screenings of the film were sold out, in part due to the efforts of Raechel Running who arranged for the Flagstaff Live article that appeared prior to the show. You can read the fine article and view photos at: http://flaglive.com/flagstafflive_story.cfm?storyID=229086


Travel Across the Border

Amidst all the negative publicity regarding travel into Mexico, it was nice to read the fine piece on Nogales, Sonora, written by Paul Theroux that appeared in the February 26 issue of The New York Times. Check the site and view the fine photographs.



Cueva de la Olla

You will see a number of changes on your next visit to Cueva de la Olla. A concrete stairway has been installed to make access to the cave much easier for all. A new interpretative sign has been placed in front of the olla (granary) and there will soon be a boardwalk installed so that visitors can walk by the rooms and pass behind the olla. In preparation for the boardwalk, several inches of fill have been removed to reach the original cave floor. This revealed several fire cooking pits within the rooms, and most interestingly, the remains of the base of another granary. This olla was much smaller in diameter and located north of the large olla.


An improved access trail has been constructed up to Cueva de la Golondrina which is located across the Rio Piedres Verdes from Cueva de la Olla.



     KVUE Television in Austin, Texas, broadcast on November 1st a good report on the current state of tourism in Mata Ortiz and Casas Grandes.  The Villalbas and others are featured. Read the story and watch the broadcast at:   http://www.kvue.com/home/133031973.html





XV  Mata Ortiz Ceramics Competition -September 14, 2012


See our Faceook page to view photographs


Grand Prize

          Hector Gallegos Martinez & Laura Bugarini Cota


Award of Excellence

          Lorenzo Elias Peña


Non-traditional colors, with or without design

1.    Ramiro Veloz Casas

2.    José Armando Quezada Talamantes

3.    Gloria Azucena Roque

Black burnished with graphite with or without design

1.    Salvador Baca Carbajal

2.    José Manuel Lopez

3.    Rodrigo Perez Tena


1.    Javier Martinez

2.    Roberto Olivas Hernandez

3.    Alan Baca Lozoya

New innovations

1.    Adrian Rojas Valdez

2.    Lorenzo Peña Pacheco

3.    Martin Cota

Colored clay

1.   Eli Navarette Ortiz

2.   Patricia Ortiz Rodriguez

3.   Elizabeth Quintana Beltran


1.   Gregoria Silveira Hernandez

2.    Manuel Sandoval Reyes

3.    Jesus Octavio Silveira Sandoval


1.   Carla Martinez Vargas

2.   Maria del Carmen Teña Gonzales

3.   Cruz Renteria Heras 


1.  Carlos Villalba Hernandez                                                                                                        

2.  Sabino Villalba Hernandez                                                                 

3.  Alejandro Ortega Ledezma

Children, 12 and younger

1.   Aaron Orozco Dominguez

2.   Valeria Veloz

3.   Nayeli Villa Pedregon


September 2011 Concurco


     The September 24, 2011, pottery competition sponsored by the Municipio of Mata Ortiz and Presidente Javier Mendoza saw 121 artists submit 154 pieces of work. The winners in the various categories are as follows:

A.    Blackware (Negras)

 First Place        Diego Gerardo Valles Trevizo

 Second Place    Salvador Baca Carbajal

 Third Place       Salvador Baca Carbajal


B.    Non-Traditional Colors (Color No Tradicional)

 First Place        César Elias Dominguez Nuñez

 Second Place    César Elias Dominguez Nuñez

 Third place       César Navarrete Ortiz


C.    Minatures (Miniatura)

First Place         Jerardo Tena Sandoval

Second Place     Guadalupe Gallegos García

Third Place        Laura Bugarini Cota


D.   Effigies (Figuras)

First Place         Martin Cota Guillén

Second Place     Norma Fabiola Silveira Hernández

Third Place        Olivia Domínguez Rentería


E.    White Clays (Blancas)

First Place         Gregorio Silveira Hernández

Second Place     Sofia Lorena López Hernández

Third Place        Daniel Gallegos Martínez

F.    Colored Clays (Barro de Color)

First Place          José Armando Quezada Talamantes

Second Place      Florencio Sanchez Corona

Third Place         Sabino Villalba Hernández


G.   Sgraffito (Esgrafiadas)

First Place          Ramiro Veloz Casas

Second Place      Hector Eliazar Quintana Piñon

Third Place         Juan Carlos Reyes Alvarado


H.   Best of Show (Galardón)

Jesús Carlos Reyes Alvarado


Jerardo Tena Sandoval




Mata Ortiz Foundation Completes Fourth Project

Mata Ortiz pottery traders and friends of Mata Ortiz several years ago at one of their annual Gatherings established the Mata Ortiz Foundation to work with the people of Mata Ortiz to benefit the community. As a fund of the International Community Foundation of San Diego, a 502(c)(3) entity that can make tax-exempt contributions outside the United States, the Foundation combines tax-deductible donations from the United States with local resources. Unidos por Mata Ortiz, a local non-profit qualified under IRS rules as a receiving entity, initiates village projects and requests Foundation grants.

LIBRARY:  In January 2003, Unidos made a community library its first project. Manuel Mora, school teacher and president of Unidos, obtained Mexican federal and state approvals along with books and materials; a private Mexican supplier of educational materials donated educational videos; the Ejido de Juan Mata Ortiz provided a building on the river street; and the Municipio de Casas Grandes poured a new floor and engaged a librarian, Armando Valles. The Mata Ortiz Foundation donated $11,000 for chairs, desks, shelves, a new door, bathrooms, a sturdy fence around the property and a stone retaining wall along the river in back. The library was dedicated on Saturday, October 8th, 2007 following the annual Gathering of Traders & Friends of Mata Ortiz. The library is now fully functional. Dropping in recently on a Thursday afternoon, Spencer and Emi MacCallum found two children playing chess and half-a-dozen others absorbed in reading.

SCHOOLROOMS:  Encouraged by the success of its first project, Unidos por Mata Ortiz decided the village needed two more schoolrooms in the badly overcrowded and under-provided middle school. With a grant of $8,000 from the Foundation, private donations from the village, and an air-conditioning system from the State of Chihuahua, Unidos built and furnished in January, 2008 two new classrooms which are now in use.

COMPUTER LAB:  Unidos por Mata Ortiz then thought their next priority should be to equip a computer lab in the middle school. The new classrooms freed up a room that parents had once built for a computer lab but that the school had had to use for classes. The old computers they had were non-functional. With village resources, which included some donated pots, and a Mata Ortiz Foundation grant of $6,000, the school now has a well equipped computer lab with 15 stations.

KINDERGARTEN:  Most recently, Unidos was concerned about the inadequate kindergarten, which was so overcrowded and poorly equipped that many parents saw no point in sending their children there. The project is now complete and hugely successful, with a second classroom building, heating and air conditioning, new bathrooms, and cement slab for the playground. Little children attend it every day and sit on the new furniture. Donors again were generous, enabling the Foundation to meet its grant commitment of $12,000. More than thirty people (couples counted as one) contributed from fifty to one thousand dollars each to reach that goal.

Unidos por Mata Ortiz is deciding on its next project. Village resources often include donated labor and artwork by the potters and assists from the Municipio and the State of Chihuahua. Any who might like to make a tax-exempt gift to further this work can do so by writing a check to the Mata Ortiz Foundation in care of the International Community Foundation at 2505 N Avenue, National City, CA 91950. Questions can be directed to Walter Parks (951-684-4224), Mata Ortiz Foundation Advisor, 6154 Hawarden, Riverside CA 92506.  wparks909[at]charter.net



Many recall the surprise upset election in July, 2007, when potter Dagoberto Quintana became the new presidente municipal of Casas Grandes, the large municipio (county) that includes Colonia Juárez, large parts of the Sierra, and Mata Ortiz. As his three-year term closed last summer, he said the job was a whole lot harder than making pottery! His successor who took office last year, Javier Mendoza, is that rare individual from Mata Ortiz who is not a potter. Javier wants to contribute in significant ways to tourism in the region and is open to suggestions. He believes that helping to make Casas Grandes, considering its rich texture of art, archaeology, revolutionary history, and cultural diversity, a tourist destination is the best way to help the regional economy and, especially, the artists of Mata Ortiz.


Mata Ortiz Jewelry

The future of the fledgling Matiz silver jewelry industry funded by Micky VanderWagen is in grave doubt, after having made such a strong start and attracted international attention (see “Jewelry Concurso” below on this page). It appears that, following several years of litigation in Mexican courts, the 300 acres and improvements of the jewelry school on the north side of Mata Ortiz may be lost due to a clerical error and a technicality in Mexican law. For those interested in how this could have happened, contact Spencer MacCallum (915-261-0502, sm@look.net).

On a far better note, the one-of-a-kind silver jewelry incorporating Mata Ortiz shards is selling like hotcakes. Two different people in Taxco design and execute it, Salvador Barrera, originally from Nuevo Casas Grandes, and Agustín Torres Beltrán, a Nahuatl silversmith. Jan and Russ Diers promote and sell it in Tucson and through the following museums and galleries across the country:

Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian on the Mall in

Washington, DC and at their Museum Store in the Custom House,

New York City

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum  (520-578-3008), Tucson AZ

Blanton Museum of Art  (512-471-4127), Austin TX

Bowers Museum  (714-567-3640), Santa Ana CA

Cabot Pueblo Museum  (760-329-7610), Desert Hot Springs CA

Chiricahua Desert Museum  (575-557-5757), Rodeo NM

El Museo del Barrio  (212-660-7119), New York City

Gilcrease Museum  (918-596-2724), Tulsa OK

Maxwell Museum of Anthropology  (505-277-4405), Albuquerque NM

Newark Museum  (973-596-6696), Newark NJ

Pueblo Grande Museum  (602-495-0901), Phoenix AZ

Silver City Museum (575-538-5921), Silver City NM

Blue Raven Gallery  (520-623-1003), Tucson AZ

Blue Bear Jewelry  (989-724-5888),Harrisville MI

Overlook Gallery  (435-259-3861), Moab UT

Silver Fox Jewelry – Traverse City MI

Tohono Chul Park – Tucson AZ – 520-742-6455

West Southwest Gallery  (303-321-4139), Denver CO

Contact Jan and Russ Diers (520-744-0639), 13845 N. Buckhorn Cholla Drive, Marana, AZ 85653. jandiers[at]msn.com  www.mataortiztoyou.com



Social Notes


This section of the Calendar provides information about weddings, obits, quinceañeras, and other events of interest about Mata Ortiz and its “extended family” of Americanos and Latinos north of the line. Kindly notify us when you learn of interesting things happening of a social nature.



Chevo Ortiz


We are sad to inform you that the village has lost another premier potter.  Eduardo “Chevo” Ortiz Estrada passed away December 18, 2012.  This is another great loss to the art community.




Photo of Chevo by Joann Cassady.







Manuel “Monolo” Rodriguez’ daughter Berenice will celebrate her quinceanera on January 19th. It should be quite the affair for the village.



Academy Graduation


On June 15th, the Mormon Academy in Colonia Juárez held their 110th commencement exercises. Among the 63 high school seniors was Daniel Guillermo Acosta Ramirez of the Hacienda de San Diego who graduated with honors. In addition to the Acosta family (Willy, Sarah, Diana, and Denisee) there were many Friends of Mata Ortiz in attendance to support Daniel: Spencer and Emi MacCallum, Ron and Sue Bridgemon, Gordon and Barbara Pierce, Paul Federico and Ann Grodzicki, Dave Nelson, Harry Loss, and Carmela Wallace. Daniel will continue his studies in agriculture business at the University of Juárez campus in Nuevo Casas Grandes.



Sandi Casillas


Emi MacCallum reports from Casas Grandes:


We always have a party in Casas Grandes on April third. That is, it was that way for eight years. A home-made cake or two, usually from the old Mennonite cookbook. We would have wine, using the best silver and wine glasses. The apricot tree in the garden would be blooming and the birds singing.


April third will be different this year. Sandi Casillas passed away, quietly, with her daughter Emily nearby, on Wednesday, March 28th. We nearly made it to toast her 76th birthday.


Does God know what he is getting? A fine, fine artist, teacher, friend, and neighbor.







Nicolás Quezada was the most important of the initial potters with Juan, sharing his keen experimental mind and doing much of the foundational experimentation with him, especially trying every type of fur, fiber and feather to make the best brushes and developing recipes for colorants — which Juan said was the most technically challenging of all they did. Nicolás continued his experimenting to the end of his life, when he developed a way of making a clay I particularly liked, a clay having the appearance of a rose-colored granite. He once told me many years ago that had conditions been different, he would have liked to be a teacher (as Juan, always observant, would have chosen to be a doctor—a diagnostician). And as things turned out, Nicolás did become a teacher, thought not of academics but of pottery. He taught numerous summers at the Idyllwild School of the Arts (ISOMATA), now Idyllwild Arts. I often told people he had international reputation, remembering how Manuela Casselmann in 2003 brought a group of fourteen studio potters from Germany to study a week with him — all of them women, of great Wagnerian build and with a sense of humor to match, always laughing, and without any Spanish. (Manuela’s’ friend, Kali, also German but from Arizona, spoke a little Spanish.) Nicolás was of slight build, and his studio was small. They had such a grand time that week that if I remember rightly, every summer after, some of that group returned to visit.

          One time Nicolas decided he’d make the perfect pot. He wouldn’t sell it, but would always have it in his home. He took several months, working on it only for short periods of time when he was fully rested. At last it was complete — the perfect pot, the pot he considered to the end of his life to be the best he’d ever made. Someone offered him $5,000 dollars for it, and he refused. Then a phone call from Tucson: a woman collector offered him $6,000. He told me later that the temptation was too great to resist, and he let it go. We hope that if that woman should chance to read these words, she’ll share a picture of Nicolás’ perfect pot with the family and the rest of us.

Nicolás had moved from Mata Ortiz to Casas Grandes some years earlier. He built a comfortable house for himself and Gloria and, most outstanding, a garden with greenhouse, ornamental trees, and stone paths, that I thought deserved to become a visitors’ attraction in its own right. To one side, he grew a large quantity of vegetables as well, and I once asked him how he and Gloria could possibly eat so much produce. He said that of course he and Gloria had some of it, but that he grew it for the poor people of the neighborhood who didn’t have enough to eat. That was Nicolás — teacher, artist, and humanitarian.

Spencer MacCallum



Nicolas in 2009

Steve Rose wrote the following regarding Nicolás’ funeral that occurred August 16:


“A great potter was laid to rest today. Nicolás Quezada's Mass was in Mata Ortiz and took place at 4PM and then at 5 the long procession of trucks and cars wound through Bario de López on the way to the pantheon. There was quite a change in the cemetery from just a month ago when we buried our carpenter Leonel Flores. Then you could see all the ground and broken coronas with faded plastic flowers strewn about as if they grew out of the incredible dry earth. This time all the hills are green and the crosses and tombstones were just peeking out from the green grasses and wild flowers. As dark clouds and rain threatened us there was a small ceremony in the little casita that adorns our cemetery. As if on cue as they were lowering him in the ground someone’s car alarm started beating out a staccato type taps. Once laid in the ground, Inez Olivas and Cesar with guitar played Cruz de Olvida and after that Una Pagina Mas. I think all will agree that when Nicolás wanted to make a great pot there was no one who could do it better. His stature was short but his talent was great. We all will remember that smile on his face as he would spin a pot on the table to our amazement and fright. He will be missed. As the last words of the last song said, Es la historia de siempre..”


New Grandsons


Lalo and Rosa Heras, owners of the Posada de las Ollas are now the proud grandparents of their first two grandsons. Their daughters Nancy and Anai gave birth to their sons within two days of each other in mid November. Luis and Nancy Martinez’ son is named Luis Jr. and is their first boy after three daughters. Mauricio and Anai Bañuelos, who were married early in the year, named their son Mauricio Jr.


Kindergarten dedication


Walter Parks reports on the dedication of the expansion of the Mata Ortiz kindergarten: “Last week [June 30, 2011], Dr. O’Connor (a Mata Ortiz Foundation advisor), Ken Wilcox, and I attended the kindergarten graduation in front of the new building. The tents were provided by Tecate, which we thought was premature advertising, but they provided much needed shade on a hot day. It was a grand event and grand to be there representing the Mata Ortiz Foundation. Twenty-seven little people marched, performed, and received their "diplomas." We were given the honor of sitting on the dais with the other dignitaries from government and education. I received a plaque in the name of the Foundation that acknowledged our (your) contribution to the building project. Plaques are plaques, but I have to say I was touched when it was presented. Believe me; your donation went to a very good cause.


New High School


Another great step in the education of the village’s children is the establishment of a high school. The high school was built immediately to the south of the secondary school and construction was completed on the weekend of August 20, 2011. The school will be utilized immediately.


Highway to El Willy


In time, the new highway that heads up San Diego Canyon west of Mata Ortiz will turn south near Pacheco and join existing pavement at the town of El Largo, not far from the city of Madera. This will then become the shortest route to Copper Canyon for those of us living west of El Paso. In the meantime, the beautiful road up San Diego Canyon offers spectacular views of the Palanganas Valley and Mata Ortiz. Also, it means that El Willy and Cueva de La Olla can be reached in just over an hour. Eventually, a trip to the Cave will involve just a few kilometers of dirt road.




     The main road (Ferrocarril) in front of the train station is now paved, divided, and striped with two lanes on each side of the divider. A park is being constructed along the west side of the road.




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Previous News of Continuing Interest—


Results of the May 31, 2011 Pottery Concurso


A. White Polychrome

    Blancas policromadas

            1st place           Elvira Bugarini Cota

            2nd place          Humberto Ponce Avalos

            3rd place           Graciela Martínez Quezada

B. Burnished Blackware with Graphite, (plain or decorated)

    Negras: Bruñida, con graffito (con o sin diseño)

            1st place           Salvador Baca Carvajal

            2nd place          Gerardo Lucero Andrew

            3rd place           Adolfo Tena Sandoval

            Honorable Mention     José Manuel Martínez López

            C. Effigies

                Figura o escultura en barro (zoomorfa, fitomorfa y/o antropomorfa)

                        1st place           Jerardo Tena Sandoval

                        2nd place          Tomás Quintana García

                        3rd place           Norma Fabiola Silveira Hernández

            D. Colored Clays: red, tan, cream, marbled, grey (plain or


                 Barro de color: rojo, café, crema, marmoleadas (con o sin diseño)

                        Tied 1st place    Elí Navarrete Ortiz

Aholiviana Jael Lucero Sandoval

                        2nd place          Javier Núñez Corral

                        3rd place           Lila Silveira Sandoval

E. Innovation in Design, Form, or Color

    Nuevas propuestas (diseño, forma, color)

            1st place           [None awarded in this category; winner

Jael Lucero moved to “Colored Clays”]

            2nd place          Martín Cota Guillén

            3rd place           Delia Rojas Valdez

F. Sgraffito, Cut Open Work , or Engraved

    Esgrafiado (calado o grabado)

            1st place           Laura Bugarini and Hector Gallegos, Jr.

            2nd place          Claudia Soledad Durán

            3rd place           Martín Olivas Quintana

G. Non-Traditional Colors

    Con o sin diseño con pinturas de color no tradicional

            1st place           Anastacio Mora Sandoval

            2nd place          César Elías Domínguez Núñez

            3rd place           Rafaela Romero Madrigal

            H. Miniatures (up to 6 centimeters)

                Miniaturas (hasta 6 centímetros)

            1st place           Cruz Rentería Heras

            2nd place          Virginia Lozoya Delgado

            3rd place           Graciela Martínez Quezada

            Honorable Mention         Carla Martínez Vargas

I. Children’s Category (up to 12 Years Old)

    Infantil (hasta los 12 años)

            1st place           Brianda Eduviges Loya Acosta

                        (daughter of Lucio Loya Jáquez & Cristina Acosta)

            2nd place          Omar Gallegos Rentería

                        (son of Lupe Gallegos & Yolanda Rentería)

            3rd place           Irving Iram Camacho Villa

                        (son of Alvaro Camacho & Cruz Celia Villa)

Best of Show


            Tati Eleno Ortiz López

Best Among Competing Former Galardón Winners

Premio a la Excelencia

            Lorenzo Elías Peña Pacheco



Triumph for Mata Ortiz

Along with 210 other studio potters from all over North and Central America, Diego Valles submitted two entries for the Third Biennial Concordia Continental Ceramics Competition, January 28-February 19, 2010. Sponsored by Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, this is a prestigious event in the ceramics world. Thirty-five from the total entries were juried into the show, and both of Diego’s were included. When all was said and done, the panel of judges awarded “Best of Show” to—you guessed it—Diego! Way to go, Diego!


2009 Tlaquepaque ceramics competition

The 33rd ceramics competition, Premio Nacional de la Cerámica, held each year in Tlaquepaque near Guadalajara, took place June 5-10, 2009, and again our Norteños shone. Salvador Baca Carbajal placed first in the burnished pottery category with an elegant black creation, for a prize of $40,000 pesos. His wife, Virginia Lozoya Delgado, placed second in the miniatures category with a three-piece set for a prize of $30,000 pesos. Carlos Loya placed second in the traditional ceramics category, for a prize of $30,000 pesos. Also present and competing were José Luís Loya and Adrián Rojas. Besides his own, Adrián also brought and entered pieces by Elvira Bugarini, Lupe Gallegos, Efraín Lucero, Diego Valles, and Carla Martínez.

            The eight categories were: Vidriada Libre de Plomo (Non-lead glaze); Cerámica Tradicional; Cerámica en Miniatura; Cerámica Navideña (Christmas nativities); Figuras en Arcilla (Clay figurative sculpture); Cerámica Bruñida (Burnished clay); Cerámica Pintada en Frio (Ceramics painted after firing); and Cerámica Contemporanea. In each category, the judges looked for Ejecución, Originalidad, Diseño, Composición, Aprovechamiento de Materiales (Use of materials), Presentación, y Espontaneidad. 

Since this annual competition began 33 years ago, all winning pieces have gone to the local Tlaquepaque museum, Centro Cultural “El Refugio,” making a remarkable collection of ceramics.


Jewelry concurso

The first annual, international jewelry competition took place in Mata Ortiz October 5-6, 2007, with jewelers from Taxco and the American Southwest competing with jewelers from Mata Ortiz. Judges were Carlotta Boettcher, Santa Fe, coordinator of New Mexico’s native American artisan’s programs, and Mónica Benítez, head of the Jewelry Design Center for Industrias Peñoles, world’s largest silver producer (a third judge at the last moment could not appear). Salvador Barrera, of Taxco, took second and third places, while Ariel Rentería, of Mata Ortiz, won first. When it came to the Sponsors’ Awards, however, (the four sponsors of the competition being the Matiz Jewelry Company, Mata Ortiz; the Center for Casas Grandes Studies, Casas Grandes; El Pueblo Galería, La Mesilla, NM; and Lapidarios Barrera, Taxco), Salvador beat out Ariel. Best of all was the camaraderie that developed among the participants, with generous sharing of techniques and terminology. After having postponed a follow-up event for three years due to legal and political uncertainties, we are hopeful of resuming the competition in 2010. For information regarding that next competition, contact Spencer and Emi MacCallum (915-261-0502, sm@look.net), Center for Casas Grandes Studies, Avenida Victoria #405, Casas Grandes, Chihuahua.


Memorial CD for Manuel Olivas (1940-2007)

Jon Samuelson (520-820-3834, jlsamuelson[at]msn.com) created for Manuel Olivas’ family a moving CD memorial with exceptionally fine photos of Manuel. Set to music but without words, it is effectively ‘bilingual.’ Manuel’s obituary appeared in the May 2007 Editorial section (Go to “Archives” and click on “Editorials”). This CD, which is among the photographic classics of the potters, is available for $30 with proceeds going to the Olivas family. Contact Spencer or Emi MacCallum (915-261-0502, sm@look.net).


Sculptor returns to the area

Andreas Goff has returned to the area after conducting a children’s art workshop in Sitka, Alaska. Andreas was artist-in-residence in 2007 at the MacCallum’s Casa Azul, and his ceramic sculpture was the subject of an exhibition at the Museo de las Culturas del Norte, where he also conducted workshops for children. He likes the area so much that he has bought property in nearby Col. Cuauhtémoc and is resurrecting a small, old adobe by the river as his home.



Photographer Raechel Running, of Flagstaff, Arizona is in her fourth year as guest artist-in-residence at the Casa Azul, a program of the MacCallum’s Center for Casas Grandes Studies. She is recording the rich and many-faceted life of the Casas Grandes region. A prolific artist and beloved member of the community, Raechel’s work last year, 2009, included a 30-page spread on Chihuahua consisting entirely of her own text and photos in the May number of Vision China, China’s largest publication; a high-art photo coverage of Chihuahua in Sojourns Magazine (Summer-Fall 2009), and a show of her Chihuahua work at the University of Albertay in Dundee, Scotland. She’s surely making Chihuahua known to the world. Before coming to Casas Grandes, besides her photography, Raechel was a professional river guide in the Grand Canyon with more than 90 rafting trips to her credit. She is the daughter of John Running (www.johnrunning.com/Resume.html), whose photographic coverage of the Rarámuri (Tarahumara) in the early 1980s is currently exhibited at the Casa Azul (see under “Exhibitions”). Contact Raechel at 928-458-0603 or by email at raechel[at]raechelrunning.com.   www.raechelrunning.com


New Museum director

Archaeologist Eduardo Gamboa succeeded Laura Vásquez Vega last year as the new director of the Centro Cultural Paquimé and the Museo de las Culturas del Norte, and is doing an excellent job of further building up the Museum as a cultural center for the community. Laura Vásquez, who had studied at the Universidad Nacional in Spain and assisted in planning the administration and preservation of the archaeological sites of Teotihuacan, Tlacotalpan in Veracruz, and Tulum in Quintana Roo, had to return with her husband to Mexico City for personal reasons after an all-too-brief term here. She in turn had succeeded Mercedes Jiménez when the latter transferred to the Papalote Museo del Niño in Cuernavaca to be near her mother, whose health was failing. Mercedes’ was a hard act to follow. More than any other director before her and with almost non-existent funding, she made the Museum a vibrant cultural center for our community, with one or more programs every month showcasing local talent — classical guitar concerts; poetry readings; dramatic presentations; dance performances; exhibitions of sculpture, painting and drawing, ceramics, wood art, and photography; book inaugurals; and endless workshops for children. A model of professionalism, she was loved and is more than a little missed. She can be reached in Cuernavaca by email at pequechango[at]hotmail.com.


Guggenheim fellow

Carl Socolow, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, won a prestigious Guggenheim fellowship to complete his project of documenting over a six-year period the changes in the ordinary life of the once-isolated village of Mata Ortiz following the completion of the paved road. The Sunday, April 23, 2006 Patriot-News (800-692-7207), of Harrisburg, PA gives it excellent coverage(see under “Publications”), and the Morrison Gallery at Penn State University exhibited (Nov 1-Dec 30, 2009) Mirror on a Country Road, “a lyrical photographic study of the village of Mata Ortiz, Mexico.” See www.carlsandersocolow.com/Invite.for a statement by Carl about the intent and meaning of his work. Contact Carl Socolow at 717-979-3070 or by email at carl[at]socphoto.com.  www.carlsandersocolow.com


Prize awarded at UNM

Beth Bagwell, recent archaeology PhD from the University of New Mexico, who did several seasons of fieldwork in the Sierra and lived in Casas Grandes with the MacCallums for a year while writing her dissertation, won the 2007 Popejoy Dissertation Prize at UNM.  This prize, for the best UNM dissertation in the previous three years in the Social Sciences and Education Departments, came with a $1000 award and a plaque. Beth's dissertation examined the organization of labor in middle-range societies using two small cliff dwellings in Tres Rios near the Sonora border as her case studies. Beth (Cell 505-610-1278, bagwell.beth[at]gmail.com) is now working with Aspen Environmental Group in Sacramento, California.


Restorations complete

Spencer and Emi MacCallum have completed the construction phase of the project they undertook on moving to Casas Grandes in 2005. The project has been to help conserve some of the old aspect of Casas Grandes by restoring/renovating a group of adobes near the plaza and then furnishing them with local antiques. To help sustain this conservation effort, they offer visiting artists, archaeologists, writers, etc., rooms and apartments for inexpensive, extended-stay rentals ($300-$500/month) and occasional overnights. The main facility, La Casa del Nopal, resembles a small hacienda with seven units and a small library/lecture room opening onto a large garden courtyard. With wireless Internet and with overflow accommodations close by if needed, it is well suited for small-company retreats and academic conferences. La Casa del Nopal is a popular attraction for tour groups to visit and hear free a brief talk of welcome and historical orientation to Casas Grandes. Contact Spencer and Emi MacCallum at 915-261-0502 (rings in Mexico) or by email at sm[at]look.net.


Previous Social Notes of Continuing Interest —


A second baby girl

            Diego Valles and Carla Martínez Vargas have a second baby girl, Ana Victoria Valles Martínez, born April 5, 2010, a sister for their first, Reginia Sophie, born March 5th, 2008. Diego and Carla married in Carla’s hometown of Zaragoza in 2007, and although both graduated with highest honors in engineering (electrico-mechanical and industrial respectively, after Diego had won a year’s scholarship to the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia), they have both opted for a career in art. Diego was galardón (best of show) winner in Mata Ortiz’s 2009 Concurso.


New neighbors

Don José Martínez, for many years Mata Ortiz’ beloved mechanic and tire repair person who had moved in with daughter and son-in-law, Graciela Martínez and Hector Gallegos, died in 2008 at 89 years of age. Spencer remembers the many times in the early years of the pottery project when Don José, working under the shade of an enormous white willow, saved his old Datsun truck, enabling him to get back to Los Angeles.

 Don José sold his home and place of business to artists Carlotta Boettcher and Ana Livingston, of Santa Fe, NM, who have now made their retirement home in Mata Ortiz. Carlotta and Ana have been warmly welcomed into the community. Before beginning their restoration/renovation, they carefully recorded the Martínez home photographically.

Carlotta is a bi-cultural Cuban-American. Her recent medium is art on automobiles (her work was shown at the Tucson Museum of Art Paint on Metal show in 2005). A photographer and filmmaker, she studied under John Collier Jr., has an MA from San Francisco State University in Visual Anthropology, and trained in Paris at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts. For the last 14 years, Carlotta lived in Santa Fe and Abiquiu, NM, fostering economic development thru the arts in Native American and Hispanic rural communities. She coordinated the Native American Artisans Program at the Palace of the Governors-New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe.

            Ana, a noted jeweler, grew up in Guatemala and has always considered the color and texture of the textile arts of the Maya Highlands to be her artistic muse. How did she come to be in Guatemala? Her grandmother in 1928 was the only passenger on the maiden voyage of Pickwick Airlines from Los Angeles to Buenos Aires. The single engine plane landed in Chihuahua, then got as far as Guatemala City before breaking down completely. Ana studied at Konstfakt School of Design in Stockholm, Sweden, the home of “Scandinavian Design,” and has a master’s from Stanford University in Museum Education. Her jewelry is represented in more than 60 galleries in the United States. Welcome, Carlotta and Ana!


Flying colors

Kiara Hughes passed with flying colors her dissertation defense in ethnology at the University of New Mexico, May 18, 2009 after spending a year with the MacCallums while writing her dissertation. Dr. Hughes (505-345-3546, kiarahughes[at]aol.com) studied the ways in which women's participation in the household production of pottery in Mata Ortiz has affected their personal, economic, and artistic autonomy. Congrats, Kiara!



Lila Silveira and Carlos Sandoval celebrated their daughter Evilín’s quinceañera (meaning “fifteenth year”) on Saturday, May 26, 2007, the day of the annual Concurso. This traditional rite-of-passage for a fifteen-year-old girl marking her transition to womanhood is one of the most important events of a woman’s life, and the celebration often is more elaborate than for a wedding. David and Carolyn Moser, of Tucson and several friends (Chuck and Sara Willsey, Norman and Ginny Sherman, Gary Kern, and David McLean) attended by invitation and reported it for the Calendar, saying, “It was one of the most special and amazing things we’d ever been asked to participate in. It really touched all of us.” The quinceañera began with a formal celebration of Mass in the church at 4pm. Here Evilín was attended by a “court” of 15 formally attired young men and 15 young women, all 15 years or less, the latter including little girls as well as contemporary friends, sisters, cousins, etc. Following custom, Evilín had chosen her favorite color for the color theme, in this case a bright lime green. The men attendants wore lime-green gingham shirts and white Stetsons except for Evilín’s three brothers, who had black Stetsons. Of course all removed their Stetsons inside the church. Following the Mass, a procession (paseo) of cars wound from the church through the village to Evilín’s home in Barrio Porvenir, where Carlos and Lila hosted 400 people to a barbecue dinner under outdoor tents. The ceremony of the evening came after dinner, at 8pm. The littlest girls in Evilín’s “court” surrounded her in a ring and sang a song with some such words as “I’m leaving my childhood,” and her father then knelt and replaced her lime-green satin flats with high-heeled shoes, signifying her arrival into womanhood. Finally came the traditional waltz. Evilín waltzed first with her father, then with her escort (chambelán) and each of the other 15 male attendants, and finally with various significant others including her grandfather. All of this was prelude to general partying and dancing to a live band into the early hours of the morning. For some photos of this event, go to the Mosers’ link:



We lost a friend

          Felix Ortiz, one of the earliest potters, almost contemporaneous with Juan Quezada, died 2007. He and his late brother, Emeterio, experimented in the early years, developing a continuous-coil technique for building a pot like that used by the Pueblo Indians and unlike the single-coil technique pioneered by Juan. Their method is still largely used in Porvenir at the southern end of Mata Ortiz. Felix was noted for his effigy pots, especially those portraying coyotes, badgers, and crows. His daughters are carrying on his tradition. He is sorely missed. His freestanding taller (workshop) is still as he left it, and it has been suggested that it be preserved as a museum.


Another triumph for Mata Ortiz

Mata Ortiz potter Uriel López Saenz, of Barrio López, has won Mexico’s national roping championship (Campeón Nacional de Lazo Doble). Competing at Ciudad Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua April 29-30, 2007 against 120 contestants from all parts of the Republic, Uriel won, besides prize money, a handsome new pickup truck. Way to go, Mata Ortiz!!


Anglo arrivals welcomed in Mata Ortiz

Several Norteamericanos have recently completed homes in Mata Ortiz.  Susan Hill, pottery trader of Santa Fe, completed renovation of her home in Barrio López which she acquired from the estate of the late María de Jesús Celado Saenz, maternal aunt of Juan Quezada, known to all as “Tia Chu” (see the March 2007 editorial). The house, last on the right as you go north to the cemetery, has a fine view of the trees along the Palanganas and the hills beyond. Bill King, Albuquerque pottery trader, completed a house just north of the new Salon de Actos, overlooking the town. Both Susan’s and Bill’s work was contracted by Luís Tena, who also carried out the MacCallums’ restoration of seven old adobes near the plaza in Casas Grandes. Gordon and Barbara Pierce are renovating an older adobe home in Barrio Porvenir on the same street as Macario Ortiz, just west of the soccer field. A fourth new home is that of Phil and Jeannie Stover, Mennonites of Sarasota, Florida. This beautifully sited new home just north of the church and overlooking the Palanganas River was built by Steve Rose, of Mata Ortiz. Steve, a pottery trader who found that his true calling is architectural design now has several homes to his credit in Mata Ortiz.