Movement & whimsy: International Folk Art Winter Auction features cultural pieces from artists around the world - Albuquerque Journal

Movement & whimsy: International Folk Art Winter Auction features cultural pieces from artists around the world

A wheel of fortune with dancers in traditional clothing from Mexican states, cardboard and paper, by Josué Castro and Elisa Ayala. Courtesy of the International Folk Art Market

This vertical carousel spins with cultural characters bringing life to the folk dances of Mexico.

Josué Castro and his wife Elisa Ayala add movement and whimsy to children’s toys crafted from papier mâché. Mechanical engineer Castro designs the mechanisms, while Ayala’s nimble fingers sculpt and paint the figures, complete with traditional clothing from each Mexican state.

A wheel of fortune figure “Huasteca” in traditional embroidery by Josué Castro and Elisa Ayala.

The couple’s wheel is up for bid at the curated International Folk Art Winter Auction previewing Saturday, Nov. 28, at folkartmarket.org. The online auction opens on Wednesday, Dec. 2, extending through Dec. 5.

Mexican artists use paper, water and wire to form cartonería figures used in yearly celebrations, especially for the burning of Judas during Holy Week. No less than the legendary Mexican muralist Diego Rivera collected cartonería.bright spot

Castro and Ayala continue this tradition by adding the spin of mechanics. Their handmade toys move with spirited personalities gleaned from Mexican folk tales.

It was Ayala who conjured the idea of making a wheel to cradle examples of national folk costumes and dances. She began taking papier mâché workshops four years ago.

A wheel of fortune figure in traditional “Danza del Venado” dress from Sonora and Sinaloa by Josué Castro and Elisa Ayala.

“I was thinking of doing something that represents different traditional dances of Mexico,” she said in a telephone interview from Salamanca, Mexico. “I try to tell a story of them.”

She researched clothing and dance online, and by using local contacts. With a purist’s eye, she didn’t want to mix clothing styles she saw on the streets.

The embroidered shawl wrapping a “Huasteca” figure derives from northern Mexico. When the figures dry, Ayala meticulously paints them using acrylics. The Huastecs were the northernmost Mesoamerican group on the Gulf Coast.

“I make a wire (scaffolding) for the hands, for the legs,” she said. “The chest I cut out of cardboard. Then I cover it with paper that is wet with a natural paste.”

The tiny faces proved tough in the beginning, she said.

A wheel of fortune figure in traditional “Flor de piña” dress from Oaxaca by Josué Castro and Elisa Ayala.

“I think the hardest part is the place where the eyes are; the nose,” she said.

As the wheel turns, a deer’s head sprouts from a male figure shaking maracas.

“That dance is called the deer dance,” Ayala said. “That is a dance that is made for fertility. They dress as the deer and the other dancers try to catch him.”

A braided Frida Kahlo look-alike balances a pineapple on her shoulder.

“That is the pineapple dance,” Ayala said, “… one of the most popular dances in Oaxaca. It’s the Guelaguetza, the give-away party.”

A “Danza de los Voladores” figure in traditional dress by Josué Castro and Elisa Ayala.

Another chair swings a flute player from Papantla, Veracruz. The ceremony involves five participants who climb a 30-meter pole. Four of these tie ropes around their waists and wind the other end around the top of the pole in order to descend to the ground.

“It’s to ask for benefits from nature for the harvest like rain,” Ayala said.

The flirty figure dressed in pink hails from Jalisco.

“All the teachers teach you in school to dance it,” Ayala said. “I think I learned it three times in school. This is specifically to have fun. It is the home of the mariachi.”

A wheel of fortune figure in traditional “Jarabe Tapatío” Jalisco dress by Josué Castro and Elisa Ayala.

The couple’s colorful sculptures also feature bustling fiestas, dinosaurs and bakeries complete with an apron-bedecked skeleton. Castro began making them nine years ago. Today the pair own a gallery and run online workshops.

“I’ve focused on these types of figures because it’s a way to get the interest of the people,” Ayala said. “Of course, they’re used to skeletons and piñatas, but when my husband started adding mechanics to these figures, they became much more interesting. People are connected to the piece by turning the knob and seeing the movement.”

Home » Entertainment » Arts » Movement & whimsy: International Folk Art Winter Auction features cultural pieces from artists around the world


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
NMPhil celebrating winter with a series of concerts
Arts
The New Mexico Philharmonic is gearing ... The New Mexico Philharmonic is gearing up for its Winter Festival with multiple 'Messiahs,' holiday pops and the 'Carol of the Bells.'
2
Vortex Theatre to bring folk tales, legends and more ...
Arts
The show opens on Friday, Dec. ... The show opens on Friday, Dec. 2, continuing on weekends through Dec. 18.
3
Here's what happening at Bishop's Lodge for the holidays
Arts
Santa Fe resort hosts its first-ever ... Santa Fe resort hosts its first-ever holiday market
4
Corrales Winter Craft Show to showcase 40 local artists
Arts
The three-day event kicks off on ... The three-day event kicks off on Friday, Dec. 2, at the Historic Old San Ysidro Church, 966 Old Church Road in Corrales.
5
Want to force bulbs this winter? Here's how.
Arts
You need to decide which of ... You need to decide which of the two traditional methods of forcing you are going to employ. You can force in a draining ...
6
Albuquerque author David E. Stuart writing book exploring Chacoan ...
Arts
'The Chacoan World: A Legacy of ... 'The Chacoan World: A Legacy of Gardens' is part of a new book series from the University of New Mexico Press titled 'New Century ...
7
Roswell is home to an arts and cultural history ...
Arts
The Roswell Museum that dates back ... The Roswell Museum that dates back to 1937 counts some 9,000 works in its collection, said executive director Caroline Brooks.
8
A look at five items from the National Museum ...
Arts
The National Museum of Nuclear Science ... The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History provides an objective, accessible window into the past, present and future of nuclear science.
9
For Elizabeth Kirk and her father Michael, crafting jewelry ...
Arts
Elizabeth credits growing up watching her ... Elizabeth credits growing up watching her father mold, incise and polish jewelry with jump-starting her own career.