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 Folk Treasures of Mexico

October 29, 2011–February 19, 2012

Generous support provided by The Boeing Company and KeyBank Foundation.


Selections from Nelson A. Rockefeller’s collection, considered the finest collection of Mexican folk art in the United States, come to Tacoma Art Museum this fall. On loan from the San Antonio Museum of Art, Folk Treasures of Mexico, will be on view from October 29, 2011 through February 19, 2012. The exhibition offers the diverse communities of the Puget Sound a rare chance to both marvel at and learn about the cultural heritage of the people of Mexico through artisans, cultural objects, and practices. The exhibition will feature approximately 80 major works of Mexican folk art in all media from 12 different Mexican states. These works were created for religious rituals, recreation, and daily life.

Interest in Mexican folk was revived in the wake of the Mexican revolution through the advocacy of major Mexican art world figures Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Rosa and Miguel Covarrubias among others. Beginning in the 1930s Nelson A. Rockefeller’s passion for Mexican folk art was sparked on his first trip there, resulting in his exceptional collection of thousands of objects assembled over 40 years of purchases and collecting trips.

A select number of artwork from Rockefeller’s collection was chosen for Folk Treasures of Mexico to represent the scope and variety of both the collection and of Mexican folk art. Playful objects such as hand-crafted miniature wooden toys in the form of horses, caballeros (cowboys), and charros (bull ropers) are contrasted with scroll paintings of religious scenes, which were popular among itinerant priests and their congregations. Two eight-foot-tall paper-mache devils will welcome visitors to the exhibition. A photographer’s painted backdrop of the Virgin of Guadalupe, measuring 11 by 13 feet will give people the chance to take their pictures and make themselves part of the art. Also included are paintings on tin and canvas, candelabras, and ceremonial objects that demonstrate the importance of religious practices within Mexican culture.

Several objects in this exhibition are related to Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), which the museum celebrates every year with a free community festival in association with Centro Latino. This year, visitors can participate in the festival on Sunday, October 30 from 10 am to 4 pm while also viewing Folk Treasures of Mexico. Other programming related to the exhibition includes a Know More Art Lecture Series about the rich traditions of Mexican Folk Art, a hands-on papel picado workshop, a concert by Trio Lucero del Norte, and more.

A comprehensive, hard-cover catalogue that features the San Antonio Museum of Art’s Norman A. Rockefeller collection will be available in the Museum Store. A Spanish language version of the catalogue will also be available.


Exhibition organized by Tacoma Art Museum. Photos Top to Bottom are courtesy of San Antonio Museum of Art. 


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