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April 1, 2017


Editorial Page


News and Classifieds


On this page we invite guest editorials and letters. Go to the Home Page and click on “Editorial Archives,” for past discussions of a range of interesting subjects. Also included is news of significance and short advertisements.



(This is Part 2 of a five part series. Go to the Editorial Archives page to read Part 1 and for background on the source of this material.)


The Heather Foundation Occasional Newsletter Series, Part 2 of 5

Newsletter No. 3, November 11, 1980, 9 pp.


Dear Friends and fellow-enthusiasts of the Palanganas potters:


There has been a problem as to what to call the pottery of Mata Ortiz. At Santa Fe last summer I introduced the name, “Palanganas,” after an article on the potters had appeared there under the title, “How to Start a Pottery Revival.” I myself had often used the term, “Casas Grandes revival,” until a friend who had been a wholesaler of quality Indian pottery for 18 years brought it to my attention that the term does a disservice to this vital new school of potters.


“Revival,” he pointed out, suggests a harking back to something dead—and complete—in the past. This new school, on the other hand, while rooted in an old aesthetic, is unmistakably of today, alive and full of innovation—witness Reynaldo’s “woven” surfaces; Lydia’s new matte-black-on-burnished-black; Felix’s cream-on-red; Nicolás’ carved pottery; Juan’s long list of technical innovations. And we must presume that these potters are only beginning, since their tradition is only ten years old. To perpetuate the revival theme, according to my friend and mentor, is bad marketing and ultimately will render the potters a disservice.


The name “Casas Grandes” only compounds the problem, insofar as it denotes the prehistoric culture of that name. Moreover, it is the name of an expanding town some 30 miles from Mata Ortiz which seems destined to become one of the industrial centers of northern Mexico. Mexican Government figures project a population of 200,000 for (Nuevo) Casas Grandes within the next five years—an increase of six times its present population. What distinction has a name like “Chicago” or “Pittsburgh” pottery—especially when that is not where the pottery comes from?

“Mata Ortiz pottery” is a phrase frequently used. It avoids the problem inherent in “Casas Grandes revival,” but it lack euphony, and it has lost some of its descriptiveness now that three of the potters—Lydia Quezada, Taurina Baca, and Yolanda Lopes—no longer make their homes in Mata Ortiz. There is also the possible confusion of “Mata Ortiz” with the Ortiz family. “Quezada pottery” is not any better, since it excludes the other villagers, notably the Ortiz group of potters.


The banks of the Palanganas River is the birthplace of the new school. The name means “wash basins” in Spanish, perhaps from rock formations in the river bed used for that purpose. There is where Juan experimented, mixing its water with his clays to make his pottery as the potters do today and did in prehistoric times. I love the euphony of the name as well.


… The Chihuahua al Pacific Railroad runs trains from Juarez/El Paso five days a week (no service Thursdays or Sundays), leaving at 8 A.M. and arriving at Mata Ortiz four hours later, on Tuesdays and Saturdays (65 pesos, or about U.S. $2.90, first class) or six hours later on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays (40 pesos, or about $1.80). I don’t have the return schedule. Normally it would be the following day.


… An interesting development this trip: Nicolás had been wanting to date his work, but hesitated using anything so obvious as a date. So he adopted a cryptogram I devised that would not look like a date but could be read as one, and began using it with his name each time he signed a pot. It may or may not be continued by Nicolás or adopted by the other potters, but some of Nicolás’ pots now carry it, so here’s how it works:


          The cryptogram is designed to serve only for the decade of the 1980’s. The 8, therefore, being understood, is omitted, leaving only one place to designate the year. November 22, 1980, is written 01122. July 4, 1988, is written as 8074. To read any cryptodate, merely separate the first digit from the second and the third from the fourth, as 0/11/22 or 1/07/4. The first digit signifies the year, the two following digits the month, and the remaining digit(s) the day. The month must always be represented by two digits; hence, July is not simply represented as 7, but as 07. Otherwise, a date such as 1111 (November 11, 1981) could be read either as January or as November. Under the adopted system, it can only be read as November; January would be written 10111 (January 11, 1981).



The question of safety traveling in Mexico directly affects the potters and the Mexican economy. We’ve digested the following article about travel in Baja California (www.bajainsider.com/baja-california-travel/mexico-travel-warning.htm) because it’s so applicable to Chihuahua. Many are coming to the conclusion that the State Department’s travel warnings about Mexico are spurious, issued for political reasons, perhaps in an effort to have the billions of dollars normally spent by tourists in Mexico spent instead in the USA to help bolster a faltering economy — a drop in the ocean! In May, the people of Rocky Point (Puerto Peñasco), Sonora, where many Arizonans go to enjoy the beach, protested by buying full-page ads in the Phoenix and Tucson newspapers headed, “The Reality Of Rocky Point.” Presidents of fifteen homeowner associations in Rocky Point signed the ads refuting the travel advisory and saying life there had been and was entirely normal and safe.



Travel Warning in Perspective


Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year. This includes tens of thousands who cross the border every day for study, tourism or business and at least one million U.S. citizens who live in Mexico. Common-sense precautions such as avoiding areas where criminal activity might occur can help ensure that travel to Mexico is safe and enjoyable.


How Safe is Mexico?


Check out these interesting statistics: http://www.banderasnews.com/1308/to-amar-how-safe-is-mexico.htm?utm_source=What%60s+Up+San+Carlos+Newsletter&utm_campaign=77446261af-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_99ddc0bdc3-77446261af-70504749#.UjB50RM3r4w.facebook


Are Americans safer in Mexico than at home?

This is Robert Reid’s title for his Lonely Planet blog which includes the intriguing statement that there is “… statistical evidence that Americans are less likely to face violence on average in Mexico than at home …” Reid provides the numbers and links to official sources to back up his statement. It’s an interesting read:



The Bridgemons’ perspective: We have been traveling across Mexico since 1966 and have nothing but great experiences to relate. Since 1996 we have traveled to and from Mata Ortiz without incident more than 180 times. In fact, we actually relax once we get south of the border. In 2009 we drove 5,000 miles visiting back country areas and large cities in central Mexico and had a wonderful experience.


Of course, there are no guarantees in life. We think of ourselves as safe in Tucson, but anything can happen as witnessed by the mass shooting here involving Gabby Giffords. We have close friends that missed being there only because they were slowed by traffic.


You must use common sense when you travel. There are places you wouldn’t visit and things you wouldn’t do at home – don’t do them in Mexico either. We choose to do what we love and not sit home in fear.


Our trip this past week (August 19, 2011) exemplifies our experiences. We were hunting for the ruins of an old Luis Terrazas hacienda two hours south of Mata Ortiz. We asked for information in the small town’s mayoral office. The staff talked among themselves, called others, and finally found some information for us. A police car then led us to the site 15 minutes away. That night we had dinner in Madera before visiting archaeological sites in Huapoca Canyon west of the town. The waitress and owner of the restaurant talked to us and then presented us with maps and a new tourism DVD about the area – for free! With this trip being typical for us, you will understand why we relax in Mexico.


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Jim Bruemmer, 1934-2016


The Mata Ortiz community lost a longtime friend with the passing of Jim Bruemmer on December 6, 2016. Jim started visiting the village in the late 1980s. Besides being a very active trader of the pottery, Jim introduced numerous people to Mata Ortiz, many who became active friends of the village themselves. Jim is survived by his wife Dian, son and two daughters, and four grandchildren. His knowledge, personality, and humor will be missed by the potters and many of us who enjoyed many a fine hour with him in front of the fireplace in the Posada de las Ollas.


La Junta 2016


More than 80 came to the village October 7-9, 2016, to attend the twentieth annual Gathering (La Junta) of the Friends of Mata Ortiz. A field trip, pottery demonstrations and exhibitions, fiestas, and topical presentations were all a part of the event. The Saturday morning talks were held at the Museum of Northern Cultures at Paquimé and included presentations on the history of trader Tito Carillo, exploration of the Piedras Verdes River, establishing a pottery collection, the pottery of Luis & Abraham Rodriguez, and understanding the symbolism of Paquimé pottery designs. A happy hour was hosted by Carmela Wallace at her beautifully restored hacienda and dinners were hosted by the MacCallums’ Casa Nopal in Casas Grandes and by the Stovers’ in their Mata Ortiz home along the Palanganas River. Pictures of the Gathering can be viewed on the Calendar’s Facebook page. Make plans to join the group next year.


Amerind Museum Tour


The Amerind Museum (Dragoon, AZ) and Mexico’s INAH combined to form the Joint Casas Grandes Expedition (JCGE) that performed the excavations of the Paquime site from 1958 to 1961. The Amerind sponsored the first Mata Ortiz concurso (pottery competition) in 1978 and conducted numerous tours to the region until 2005. Finally, in November of 2016, the Amerind led another tour to Paquime and Mata Ortiz. The tour was led by archaeologist Dr. Paul Minnis and Ron and Sue Bridgemon. Director Christine Szuter and Associate Curator Annie Larkin of the Amerind and Marshall and Cathy Giesy provided support. Dr. Minnis led the group of 24 on a tour of the Paquime ruins and museum. The Amerind group had lunch in Mata Ortiz, attended demonstrations at the home of Hector Gaellgos Jr. & Laura Bugarini, visited the Valley of the Caves, Hacienda de San Diego, and the exconvento in Casas Grandes, and then toured the Don Cuco distillery in Janos. Pictures of the tour can be viewed on the Calendar’s Facebook page.


Consolación Quezada   1933-2016


It is with great sadness we have to announce the passing of Consolación Quezada de Corona. Consolación is the oldest of Juan Quezada’s siblings and the mother of Mauro and Dora Quezada. As the matriarch of the Quezada family, she will be greatly missed by the family as well as many American visitors. Her passing marks the end of an era.


Tito Carrillo   1936-2016


We are also sorry to report that Tito Carrillo, Mata Ortiz trader and long time friend of the village, moved on to a better place on April 23, 2016. Tito had been traveling to the village and promoting the pottery across the country since the early 1980s. Thanks to Ron & Vicki Sullivan, Tito was able to celebrate his last two birthdays in his beloved Mata Ortiz during the Gathering of the Friends of Mata Ortiz. The people of Mata Ortiz and many of us have lost a wonderful friend who will not be forgotten. The Calendar’s Facebook page shares photos of the Don. His obituary in the Arizona Daily Star is linked here: https://shar.es/1egig7.


A mass was held in Mata Ortiz on June 17th and his ashes were spread in the village by his son Pablo on Father’s Day.



19th Annual Mata Ortiz Pottery Concurso (Competition)


The presentation of awards for the concurso took place adjacent to the old Mata Ortiz train station on April 1, 2016. Congratulations to all the winners. The governor of Chihuahua attended the proceedings this year. The ceramics were again displayed in the train station. Prize money awarded this year totally about $20,000 US.

See our Facebook page to view photographs of the first place winners.


Premio a la Excelencia - Award of Excellence

          Hector Gallegos Martinez


          Laura Bugarini Cota

White Polychrome

1.    Lorenzo Elias Peña Pacheco

2.    Tati Eleno Ortiz Lopez

3.    Diego Gerardo Valles Trevizo

4.    Ana Luisa Veloz Casas

Black burnished with graphite with or without design

1.    Edgar Ivan Martines Lopez

2.    Lazaro Ozuna Silveira

3.    Maria Graciela Martinez Quezada

4.    Guadalupe Lucero Sandoval

Figures or Sculptures

1.    Norma Fabiola Silveira Hernández

2.    Juan Carlos Villalba Hernandez

3.    Sabino Villalba Hernandez

4.    Susana Sandra Lopez Aldavaz

Traditional Color, with or without design

1.   Gregorio Silveira Hernandez                                                             

2.   Rodrigo Perez Tena

3.   Mirna Ramona Hernandez Lucero

4.  Taurina Baca Tena                                          


1.    Angel Antonio Guerrero Trillo

2.    Ramiro Veloz Casas

3.    Jesus Octavio Silveira Hernandez

4.    Humberto Eleuterio Piña Quintana

Non-Traditional Color, with or without desgn

1.      Fabian David Ortiz Ortega

2.   Oscar Ortega Arrieta

3.      Sulma Orozco Rios

4.      Rosa Elena Renteria Heras


1.   Karla Martínez Vargas

2.   Guadalupe Guillen Guillen

3.       Maria Del Carmen Tena Gonzalez

4.      Yadira Silveira Sandoval 

Honorable Mention

1.    Jose Manuel Martinez Lopez

2.    Olivia Dominguez Renteria

3.    Luis Armando Rodriguez Mora





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