Every year Margaritas hosts award-winning and internationally recognized artists from Mexico to tour selected local schools and Margaritas restaurants. Each artist works in a specific medium such as ceramics, wood carving, papier-mâché or weaving.
A visiting artist will set up a basic “workshop” and complete an original work of art. The event coordinator translates for the artist during a FAQ. Events typically run from 4:00 to 9:00pm. Pat Picciano, program coordinator and interpreter, accompanies the artists as they visit the schools and arts organizations, providing students with a unique and wonderful insight into Mexican culture and folk art.
Meet Our Artists
GERARDO ORTEGA LOPEZ
The Ortega family has been working in barro betus for generations. Barro betus gets its name from the oil bath it receives in aceite de betus (oil of betus – a resin extracted from the pine tree) before it is fired.
Santa Cruz de las Huertas, Tonalá a town not far from Guadalajara is known as the main producer of barro betus. Subject matter ranges from roosters, dogs, pigs to Trees of Life – all made with a whimsical sense of fun and bright colors.
Gerardo Ortega’s teacher was his father Eleuterio Ortega Hernandez, and his grandmother, Natividad Hernandez. Gerardo is the 4th generation to work with barro betus. His grandparents worked in the fields planting and harvesting and in their spare time were engaged in developing their art. Gerardo’s grandmother designed pieces such as roosters, animals, candlesticks, chests of animals and fruits, covered with nahuales (a human being who has the power to magically turn him- or herself into an animal form, most commonly donkey, turkey and dogs, but also other and more powerful animals). The origin of barro betus dates back to colonial times and is surrounded by myths.
His father made elaborate Tastoan dance masks (Dance of the Spanish conquest of Mexico), also began to design more surreal figures. He took his clay from mines in Tonalá as does Gerardo today.
Gerardo is married with three children. He works daily in his workshop making his whimsical barro betus figures and also giving lessons to children who want to learn this technique. He has won many awards for his work and exports his art all over the world.