Archive for ‘Retablos’

July 20, 2011

Lorenzo Family Retablos

This weekend we’ll be meeting up with the Lorenzo family of Guerrero to pick up a new collection of their wonderful folk art retablos.  Here’s a few photos from our last trip there.  The new pieces will be on our retablo page of our store, ready for pre- order by next Tuesday.

Their designs reflect the village, religious, historic and cultural life of their town, as represented in the images below

Their designs reflect the village, religious, historic and cultural life of their town, as represented in the images below

Nicolas Lorenzo

© dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art 2011

February 14, 2009

Artist Studio Specials

This week we made a visit
To the painting taller of Aron and Oscar.
They paint our custom retablos
As well as colonial style and kitschy
Pieces on wood, tin and old windows and doors.

Below, are a few of the pieces
That they have asked us to sell for them.
They will be sold at a special artist studio price
And as you order them, they will ship 
From here in Mexico, allow 2-3 weeks
For delivery.  
You’ll find these in our ‘New Arrivals
On our website – Dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art 

These unique wood crosses 
Are atop wood stands which are
Made from old wood beams
Some have glass in front of saints images
Others, allegorical crosses atop retablo paintings
These are some of the more unique crosses
We have come across in a long time
And hope you enjoy them!

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p1030820_resized  Wood cross over retablo

Along with these unique pieces
Are new talavera from the artist studi0 In Guanajuato. This talavera catrina plate will be sold from the artist studio only & will ship up to the states when your order is placed and then out to you.


Talavera Catrina Plate

Talavera Catrina Plate

July 16, 2008

Atotonilco – New World Heritage Site

Last Sunday we thought it was the weekend for the Feria de Atotonilco, and decided to go. Our neighbors Marta, Aron and their son Ariel went with us. Upon arrival, we discovered that the fair was not this weekend, but next – however, it was the weekly market day, and the arrival of a large group of pilgrims who are here to pray, do pennance and repent for the week.

Photo above: Aron (in black) Marta and Ariel

We entered town from the El Cotijo side, near the entrance to La Gruta hot springs along the back side of the town. There were many cars parked along the stone fence going into town. We walked along into town. Booths began appearing, covered in colorful plastic ‘lona’ tarps – the Sunday market day.

Atotonilco is known for it’s beautiful frescoes in the church, and this last week, along with San Miguel de Allende, Atotonilco was awarded the honor of becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a great honor which will give international heritage status as well as much needed funding for restoration. Use this link to go to our tales from the road blog to see photos of the town, church and frescos.

The ceiling, walls and doors of this church are adorned with beautiful old paintings depicting religious and Hispanic scenes. The church also attracts about two million pilgrims a year, who we were told come weekly by bus, foot or car to be locked indoors for a week to pray, flagellate themselves (really) and do penance for their sins here on earth.

Atotonilco is locally famous for it’s statue of Senor de las Columnas, depicted below as Christ leaning over an urn, with disciplinas (for flagellating) wrapped around his waist and neck, bloody and tired with three gold rays, his halo.

The statue of ‘el senor’ makes the annual pilgrimage of about 10 km to San Miguel de Allende, overnight, every Easter for the Semana Santa Processions, arriving two weeks before the event and enters the town on a mile long flower filled street. To see photos of this, follow this link

Outside in the market, you’ll find religious paraphernalia – disciplinas, large, small and in key chains, hand made by local artisans, and worn by all the pilgrims –

Along with Cd’s that have images under resin of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, San Judas Tadeo to name a few – plus rosaries, gilded plastic frames with images of santos, religious cards —

Crowns of thorns
made of wood and thorny spines from the bisnaga cactus – and hand made veils made of net and flowers which the women pilgrims, young and old wear during the week of prayer.
Everything you need for the passion play.

And you can also buy an array of items for daily use –    

dishes, plastic goods, food, plants or a beautiful sequined purse like John is showing here.





The food booths are selling botanas – Enchiladas, tortillas half dipped in chili salsa, fried rolled and filled with chicken and fresh cheese – gorditas, big fat tortillas rolled into a ball, cheese and chili inside, patted into a disc that is fried, then cut open and filled with meat, potatoes and corn – tacos with meat or nopales and cheese and carmelized onions. Down the way you can buy a nieve – iced milk or fruit in a variety of flavors, mango, chocolate or vanilla, zapote, limon, fresa or sandia.

Musicians wander in groups, find an area to stand or sit and play typical Mexican music with guitars and accordians.

Most of the crowd are pilgrims from ranchos and villages all over Mexico who still wear traditional clothing –

Women in colorful satin dresses, some wearing capes with crosses sewn on them and many wearing a mixture of traditional and modern clothing and hats – all of them wearing disciplinas, ready for their week of prayer and pennance.
I have to say, that coming into town, was like going back in time to another world of people, still steeped in traditional values, clothing and reverence for god. We were unaware upon arrival, that Atotonilco, while being famous for it’s beautiful church, is also a pilgrimage site for two million pilgrims per year, many of whom come from villages that still maintain traditional ways of living, and who you see here.

At 5PM the pilgrims will go to the back of the church where the doors will be shut to the outside world for a week. They will be fed and basic needs taken care of while they reflect.

The windows and doors of the church are all open today
, shedding light throughout. Groups take turns kneeling at the altar to cross themselves and pray. Women are crying as they pray. Tourists wander about with cameras taking pictures of the frescoes, statues and architecture. The wood floors are mosaic designs, and the wood entrance to the doorway worn down from years of footsteps passing through.

There are retablos of the stations of the cross and other religious stories painted into the doors and walls of the church and vestibules contain Santos to pray to. We were told that because of the new UNESCO World Heritage status that the market booths which surround the church in the center of town, and which have probably been a tradition for as long as the church has been standing, will no longer be allowed in front of the site after this year. The fair, which is a local event, will most likely be flooded with tourists. The status comes as a mixed blessing, bringing restoration, money and tourism to the town, but will surely change it’s nature in the coming years.

Go to: Dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art

Photo below: Ariel & me

© All rights reserved, 2008, Dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art
September 6, 2007

Alfredo Vilchis – Retablo Artist

Rincon de los Milagros

Alfredo Vilchis in his studio, Mexico City, 2007

Rincon de los milagros — corner of miracles, the street & neighborhood that Alfredo lives, where he paints retablos depicting the history of Mexico, people’s dreams, wishes, troubles, pain, miracles and stories of great heart.

We entered Alfredo’s home through the living room and kitchen downstairs and were brought right in to meet the whole family. We walked up the tiny winding staircase, covered in retablos and ex-votos to the second floor to his bedroom

and studio.

Upon reacing the top of the stairway, we entered a rich blue room, his bedroom, where he sat us down next to him on the bed and told us the stories of his family, his faith, the saints who keep his work alive. Alfredo is a lively man, full of himself, and proud of the work he has been doing for the last 23 years, bringing history and people’s stories to painted form while keeping the tradition of retablo and ex-Voto making alive.

The bedroom opens into his studio, rich in iconography, walls to

ceiling covered with masks, milagros, parts of doll’s bodies, pictures, little statues and books – all for inspiration and meaning.

Brushes, old boxes with paint peeling, drawers full of supplies, drawings everywhere you turn, his image painted, looking out at you, the signature of this mustached man, a saint, an angel, a devil.

It is a dream studio full of light, white curtains blowing, simple, yet full of that which occupies his mind.

I asked Alfredo how he worked and he brought out a pencil drawing

of a retablo he had painted to show the basic layout – simple and not very detailed. From this he paints the final piece in oil on sheet metal called lamina.

Alfredo, his son Hugo and myself

Around every corner, behind every shelf are the images that hold his life and his work.

The shelf on the left is a wooden niche full of old rolled up tubes of paint, mixed with milagros and & saints in front of the niche to protect

and bless that which has brought him his livelihood and his fame.

Altars, shrines, mementos

Hugo, Alfredo’s eldest son, laying out retablos that they call ‘inventos’ and are sold in the market, based on stories that they have read about in newspapers and magazines.

Alfredo, self portrait, angle with flowers, below, Alfredo

with death on a bicycle.

Love of Mexico, it’s foils and follies and luchadors. This is

one of a series of retablos, commemorating the lucha phenomenom, his family painted in to the bleachers.

Alfredo explaining a shadow box niche that was hung in his show in


While in France at a show of his work, he became enamored with

the work of Velazquez, and has painted a series of the royal family

each one with him as the artist painting

Alfredo in jeans & green shirt & as a saint surrounded by his

paintbrushes, the working altar

Retablo of a bus full of people, the Virgin watching over and

Mexico city & the Volcanos to the south in the distance.

Through his love of bull fights, he has begun a series of retablos depicting bullfighting – the inspiration for another possible book of his work.

Hugo Vilchis – with two of his retablos

Luis Vilchis with recent retablos of gay lovers

Daniele, so serious throughout our visit

The artist desk

Shadow box of milagros and small linear retablo

Wall of milagros in tin, clay, doll parts, wood

Alfredo describing a simple retablo drawn by his grandson Miguel — the story of the death of his little brother at one month

Artist’s view

Alfredo with Manuel holding drawings of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Manuel’s drawing is based on the drawing of Alfredo

Alfredo’s Virgin on the left, Manuel’s, right

Manuel, Alfredo & his grandaughter

Daniel, Alfredo, Hugo & Luis Vilchis

The blue bedroom. On the left is a retablo of all of Alfredo’s saints, a

small shelf with miniature figures, paintings & retablos & a cross filled with

drawings and milagros, a photo of his mother beneath it.

Views of retablos on the narrow stairway, filled with retablos that Alfredohas painted over the years, retablos & Ex-votos that are

in his two books.

Rincon de los milagros

© All rights reserved, September 2007, Dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art