According to research by Mata Ortiz expert Jim Hills of Tucson, Arizona, indeed several people in the Porvenir neighborhood were making pottery in the 1970s. Porvenir potters Rojelio Silveira, Emeterio Ortiz, Félix Ortiz and Salbador Ortiz all made Mata Ortiz pottery in the early 1970s. In his paper, “Reconstructing a Miracle” in the University of Arizona’s Journal of the Southwest, Hills states, “Spencer MacCallum continually customized his story over the years in an attempt to promote a single narrative, which required omitting, modifying or diluting facts.” The Ortiz and Silveira potters were among those omissions. Thus, according to Hills, “a blend of well-meaning entrepreneurial strategies, reticence, forgetfulness, imagination, exaggeration and romantic notions of reality have shaped the Mata Ortiz narrative.”
Essentially, two U.S. writers shaped an incomplete history of the Mata Ortiz pottery tradition. In 1993 American Walter Parks wrote a book based on MacCallum’s notes. In the book’s acknowledgements, Parks states,
“Spencer MacCallum was especially generous, opening all of his files to me and reviewing the text.”
Based on new voices and evidence, that history is deficient. It tells only part of the story. Many significant families were excluded from their writings.
“Efforts Made to Rescue the Ceramics of Paquime” by
Julián Alejandro Hernández Chávez
“In 1952, in Casas Grandes, Manuel Olivas began to produce low temperature ceramics decorated with the designs from the pieces found at the archaeological sites. His grandmother taught him how to find the clay deposits, how to prepare the clay and fire his pieces the way his family did to produce clay articles. This is how the new traditional Paquimé ceramics were born; after this, the ceramics appeared spontaneously in several communities in the region and the new potters exchanged the information they had. They sold their pieces as utilitarian and decorative objects, first to locals and later to tourists. There was a flurry of activity at the beginning of the seventies [1970s] which was centered on the town of Juan Mata Ortiz where Juan Quezada, Félix Ortiz, Rogelio Silviera and others worked full time as potters.”
Julián Alejandro Hernández is a preeminent pottery expert focusing on the Casas Grandes and Mata Ortiz pottery traditions. Mr. Hernández has written two books about the art and archaeological ruins of Paquime in Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico. He is a working potter, having taught dozens of people about pottery. Hernandez started the first pottery school in Nuevo Casas Grandes. In addition, he is the director of the Francisco Villa Preparatory School.
Pabla is the daughter of Rito Talavera and Lydia Quezada. Pabla made this pot a few years ago. She made about three or four like this. The tiles are attached to the pot before firing. Since Pabla and her family live about four hours from Rito and Lydia, she transported this piece to them before firing.
This post is solely to show great work; this is not for sale. Enjoy!
Pabla es la hija de Rito Talavera y Lydia Quezada. Pabla hizo esta olla hace unos años. Hizo unos tres o cuatro como éste. Los azulejos se unen a la olla antes de quemar. Puesto que Pabla y su familia viven cerca de cuatro horas de Rito y de Lydia, ella transportó esta pieza a ellos antes de encender.
Este post es solo para mostrar un gran trabajo. Esto no está a la venta. Disfrutar!
The old history about the Mata Ortiz pottery tradition has been discarded. Some of the early pioneer potters have passed away and their adult children feel more free to share the more authentic histories. This is how history evolves.
There is an unauthentic tale by Spencer MacCallum that pottery making was re-discovered in Mata Ortiz by one man who had never seen a potter at work. That is a myth. That is not true. Mr. MacCallum needs to separate himself from this falsehood. In order to be truthful, these are steps that he can complete:
1. He needs to acknowledge that he made a purposely false narrative about the history of the Mata Ortiz pottery tradition. Mr. MacCallum has allowed an illegitimate narrative to continue.
2. MacCallum needs to state publicly that there were many pioneers of Mata Ortiz pottery. In addition, he needs to publicly disclose that several people in Mata Ortiz and Nuevo Casas Grandes were working together in the beginning years.
3. He needs to immediately state that he is not a professional anthropologist.
“A time comes a time when silence is betrayal.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
We acknowledge that MacCallum has done some helpful things regarding the town of Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua, Mexico. However, for more than forty years he has marginalized, omitted and failed to tell the truth about many families in Mata Ortiz.
Filmmaker Ron Goebel presents a new documentary shot on location in Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua, Mexico. Interviews with artists and researchers native to the region disclose the town’s accurate and complete history. Until now that history has been incomplete and mythical.
The documentary “Mata Ortiz: The Untold Stories,” is $25.00 plus $5.00 shipping. Total is $30.00. Send payment to Ron Goebel, 772 South Ocean Avenue, Cayucos, California 93430. You can pay with Paypal also.
Congratulations to Nancy Andrews-Goebel whose multi-award winning children’s book, The Pot that Juan Built, recently hit 100,000 number of books sold! Now in its 25th edition, the book won 23 awards.
Nancy’s upcoming children’s book, about Mata Ortiz potter Félix Ortiz, is illustrated by well-known artist Javier Martínez.
Felicidades a Nancy Andrews-Goebel cuyo libro para niños, “La Vasija Que Juan Fabricó,” ha ganado varios premios, ha alcanzado recientemente 100,000 libros vendidos! Ahora en su 25 edición, el libro ganó 23 premios.
El próximo libro infantil de Nancy, sobre el alfarero de Mata Ortiz, Félix Ortiz, está ilustrado por el reconocido artista Javier Martínez.