A crafty wonderland in Izamal, Mexico

As if wandering the golden streets of Izamal weren’t enough to make a visitor smile, this little town in the Mexican Yucatán has another treat hiding behind those yellow facades: a cultural center bursting with vibrant art by master artisans from throughout Mexico.

outside of building

A glorious collection of the Grand Masters of Popular Mexican Art

Izamal’s Centro Cultural y Artesanal (Cultural Center) has several good exhibits. However, the star is the wonderful display of items from the Fomento Cultural Banamex’s Grand Masters of Popular Mexican Art collection.

exhibit opening

The exhibit bursts with color and life despite the fact that many of the figures are skeletons, like this skeletal funeral procession.

skeleton figures

skeleton figures

skeleton figures

Or this larger-than-life lady.

female figure

face of female figure

The celebration of the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) is major event in Mexico, so it’s not surprising to see many pieces on that theme.

skeleton on a bike

But there are many other themes included as well.

angel figure

Frida choir

musical creature

mythical creature

musical mermaid

The exhibition is largely organized by materials rather than thematically, with all of the pottery is in one area, wood in another, fiber in still another, and so on. So, while there are sections bursting with vividly colored clay and wood, there are also more subdued displays of these and other materials.

cabinet and mirror with clothing reflection

paper scene

view of gallery

plate painted with a fish

pottery

carved jaguar

figurine

dancing figure

It’s art that provides a fascinating peek into Mexican culture.

Visit Izamal’s Cultural Center

The Cultural Center in Izamal, Mexico, is located near the convent in the heart of the city. It houses several exhibits of local craft in addition to the Grand Masters show, a small gift shop featuring high-quality work by local artists, a spa, and a “café” which was able to sell us a Coke, but not much more.

The Grand Masters exhibit

Izamal Cultural Center - www.ExplorationVacation.netIzamal appears to be one of several locations in Mexico that display art from the wonderful Grand Masters of Popular Mexican Art collection put together by the Fomento Cultural Banamex.The exhibit has very detailed signage in English that provides information on the art form, its place in Mexican culture, the artist, and the individual pieces.

At least some of the pieces on display in Izamal were part of a large traveling show that came to the USA around 2001-2004. However, few images and no artist information appear to be available online. For those interested in learning more and seeing more work, there is a lavishly illustrated catalog of the collection available at the Cultural Center in Izamal for a reasonable price. It’s large and heavy to haul home, but it costs more to purchase it in the USA. An English-language version was published, but isn’t available except at an extraordinarily high price.

A carriage ride through Izamal

2014 Mexican Yucatán itinerary

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