Last updateSat, 05 Dec 2015 3pm

2015 Maestros art fair breaks all records

“There is always a ‘special’ feeling in the air at the Feria Maestros del Arte,” said Marianne Carlson. “But for some reason this year, folks could feel it the minute they walked through the entrance. 

Carlson, who founded the annual sale to bring the plight of Mexican artisans into public focus, is still bubbling nearly a month after the three-day fair held at the Chapala Yacht Club closed. 

“It sounds cliché, but it was the best ever.  The admissions and the sales were incredible, and the artists were simply overwhelmed by the experience.”

Carlson reported that many of the artists sold out of products this year, one even on the second day of the event.

“One weaver who sells very pricey rugs said he could pay all of the family and workshop expenses for the coming year on what he made at the Feria. That will allow him the freedom to experiment and enjoy his creative nature and work.”

November’s event drew 3,359 paid admissions and another 600 unpaid attendees (volunteers, translators, dignitaries, etcetera). 

“Even the raffle exceeded our expectations,” said Carlson. 

Proceeds from the raffle came to 63,550 pesos, of which 31,775 pesos was donated to Chapala Cruz Roja, she said, adding that the remainder will go into the Feria’s coffers toward next year’s expenses.  

“We never charge a fee to any artist to display their work at the Feria, and they never pay us a commission, but we do earn money for the Feria’s budget at the show,” Carlson said. A total of 84,985 pesos was taken at the “Artists Supporting the Feria” booth, where artisans’ donated items are sold to benefit the event. 

Carlson noted that Paul Hart sold 134 Feria calendars and donated these profits (6,700 pesos) to the event.

Carlson blinked rapidly as she recalled the emotional farewell between Chiapas artists Juana Gomez and her son and the volunteers. She said Gomez was overwhelmed to know that there are people in the world who can give so freely of their time to help her family survive and succeed.

“For the artists who come from villages far way in the hills of Chiapas, the Feria is a miracle,” Carlson said.

To participate in the 2013 Desfiles Alebrijes Gigante in Mexico City, the Feria organization had made a giant alebrije figure to portray Michicihualli, the goddess of Lake Chapala. The final high point of this November’s fair was when the giant alebrije was donated to Herencia Milenaria, a group of Tonala artists who are working to renew attention on this traditional crafts hub and the exceptional art created there. 

“Michi” will be displayed in the group’s new cultural center in Tonala.

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