Edited and Maintained by Ron and Sue Bridgemon. rbridgemon999@gmail.com
Home Anthropology Notes Archives Classes & Tours Editorial Events
General Interest Links Publications Travelling to the Village Contact Us

January1, 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.



[We’re going to do a temporary departure from the normal editorials or letters to the editors that usually appear here. Instead, this will be the first of a five part historical series featuring excerpts from The Heather Foundation Occasional Newsletter. The first newsletter appeared in October 1978 and the last in July 1982. All were authored and distributed by Spencer MacCallum out of San Pedro, California. The Foundation was named for his mother and much of his early Mata Ortiz project was funded by a small inheritance from her. His grand project finally had to end after running up a $12,000 dept on his credit cards; such was his commitment to furthering the creative talents of the Palanganas potters. Obviously, much of the newsletter content dealt with marketing efforts and descriptions of the many early museum and art exhibitions/events. The excerpts we have chosen to run in this series are for the historical record and for the interest of those somewhat new to the Mata Ortiz pottery phenomenon. These old newsletters were located in the Amerind Museum files by Ron S. Bridgemon.

We will continue to also include letters to the editors where possible.]


The Heather Foundation Occasional Newsletter Series, Part 1of 5

Newsletter No. 2, March 12, 1980, 7pp.


My last newsletter was sixteen months ago, and much has happened with Juan Quezada and the other potters—and with the village of Mata Ortiz itself, which now has a sawmill to process logs trucked down out of the mountains to the west. The mill owners have put in a graded road (bumpy in spots) from where the paved road ends at Colonia Juarez ten miles away. Travel time from the border crossing at Columbus, New Mexico, is now just over three hours.


… The 1978 competition in the village sponsored by the Amerind Foundation was a wonderful success. Winners were announced and cash prizes awarded on November 20th, the major fiesta day of the year. … The competition was for all who had not yet achieved master potter status, i.e. who had not exhibited in the United States and had one of their pieces bring 200 dollars on the market. Juan was the only one then excluded by those criteria. The idea behind the competition had been to support his efforts to encourage quality among the other potters.


… The outstanding event after the completion was Lydia’s wedding. She was married in February to Rito Talavera, a fine young person from a family of impressive qualities who live and farm in Anchondo. Hasn’t she an elegant name now: Lydia Quezada de Talavera…


… Since the last newsletter, Juan has continued his experiments with his clays and pigments. By last September, he had made these breakthroughs:


          (1) From a blend of three clays, he achieved the white clay he had sought so many years. Still not as strong as he would like, it does very well for small and medium jars. This may now be superseded, however, by the discovery a few weeks ago, high in the mountains above the village, of a large deposit of black clay that fires to pure white. When I left Mata Ortiz, Juan had tried it successfully as a slip but had not yet tested its strength for building the walls of the jar.


          (2) By a process involving two firings, he achieved a distinctive, light sand-yellow color like Jeddito ware from a clay that normally fires orange.


          (3) He achieved a black pigment that fires black under normal oxidizing conditions where ample air circulates during firing, but that turns light under reducing conditions where the flow of air is restricted during firing to produce black ware. The effect is elegant: a grey paint with almost a suggestion of olive, on a burnished black ware with a slight metallic luster. So far, I haven’t found anyone who has any idea of what might be happening chemically here. I’d be interested in any suggestions. The effect is reversible.


… When the Mata Ortiz pottery tradition began to receive wide publicity a few years ago, I thought everybody in the village would be climbing on the bandwagon to make pottery. Oddly, that never happened; with the exception of Yolanda (Lopez), who was then too young, the group of potters now are the same group that were making pottery when I met Juan in 1976. The only change is the dramatic climb in quality of the work of almost all of them (most recently, that of Consolación, Juan’s eldest sister, and Oscar, her son). I don’t know how to account for the number of potters not increasing, since Juan seems generously disposed to teach anyone who is interested.


…What am I leaving out of this letter? Oh yes—marketing pottery. Anne and I began marketing pottery a year ago, after having been accumulating it primarily for exhibition purposes. We maintain gallery space here in San Pedro, where we not only have selections of each of the potters’ work, but also some prehistoric Casas Grandes pottery from a collection consigned to us that was for many years displayed at the Riverside, California, Museum. …



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.


<<<< O >>>>




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





Ads are free. Wording may be edited. Please keep wording brief.


<<<< O >>>>