Monday, February 1, 2010

In The Ancient Zapotec Tradition: A Ten.

I met Leo De Los Angeles some months back, at a Multi-cultural Fest that was held locally. He was wandering around with his little son who kept tugging his shirt, encouraging him to stop at our booth.

I was manning the booth for The Mexican Heritage Center in Stockton, and Leo introduced himself as a weaver. I told him about the center, explaining that central to our mission our was to exhibit local Latin0/Chicano artists, and to showcase the beauty and history and of Mexican culture . I invited him to visit us.

Not long after, Leo showed up at one of our meetings with a binder full of photos of his exquisite tapestries and carpets. We were stunned.

Thus, grew the concept for our latest exhibit titled "El Arte del Telar" (Art of the Loom). As we hung the show, I grilled Leo about his art, a craft handed down to him as a child from his grandfather and father in Oaxaca.

He referred to them and himself as "diestra" weavers. For a while, he seemed pressed to define the word, then smiled as he found the syonymn: "master weaver". His natural humility remained intact, even as he said this.

Yes, Leo is a master weaver in the tradition handed down to him by the ancient Zapotecs of his birthplace.

When I pointed to one of my favorites (pictured behind him in the photo), an 8' x 10' zinger hanging on the wall and asked "How long did it take you to make it?" He answered: "Three months", adding "on a scale of 1-10, this one is a 5."

"A five?!" I exclaimed. "Do you have any 10's in this show?" I strained to even imagine a 10.

"I have a couple of 7's, on that wall", he mused.

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