Artist: Juan Quezada
Medium: Clay, Natural Earth Pigments, Gold
Dimensions: H. 11.5 x W. 9
Origin: Mata Ortiz, Mexico
Provenance: James Pongrass Collection, Juan Quezada Collection 2012
Exhibited: KCAM & Houston Community College 10/2015
Juan Quezada Celado (born May 6, 1940) is a Mexican potter known for the re-interpretation of Casas Grandes pottery known as Mata Ortiz pottery. Quezada is from a poor rural town in Chihuahua, who discovered and studied pre Hispanic pottery of the Mimbres and Casas Grandes cultures. He eventually worked out how the pots were made with no help from ceramicists or specialists in these cultures. Initial attempts to sell the pots in his area failed, but he did have success with border merchants. These brought the pottery to shops on the U.S. side of the border, where they were discovered by Spencer MacCallum, an anthropologist who tracked Quezada down and helped him break into the larger U.S. market. Quezada’s success in pottery sparked interest in the activity by others in the town and he responded by teaching family and friends. Today there are over 300 families who earn all or part of their income from the pottery. Quezada’s work has been displayed in museums in various countries and in 1999 he was awarded the Premio Nacional de Ciencias y Artes. Despite this, his work is still relatively unknown in Mexico.
Quezada’s works now sell for hundreds and even thousands of dollars in the United States, and is regularly exhibited in Arizona, California and New Mexico. Success in Mexico came later in the 1990s, first in Nuevo León then in Chihuahua. He exhibited at the prestigious Franz Mayer Museum in Mexico City in 1999. He continues to give occasional classes in the United States and has received offers of long term employment there, but has declined to move away from his hometown.
His work has been covered in various books, doctoral thesis and periodicals and can be found in major museums in the United States, Europe and Japan. In 1998, the state of Chihuahua recognized his work with a plaque, which was followed in 1999 by the Premio Nacional de Ciencias y Artes. His work has also received recognition from the Congress of the United States. However, despite this, he still remains relatively unknown in his native Mexico.
Despite his international fame, he still lives a basic rural life in modest surroundings. The father of eight children, his manner and dress are typical of Mexican northerners, with cowboy boots, hat and distinctive accent. He has moved from his original home in the town of Mata Ortiz to a ranch on a rocky riverbank of the Palanganas River overlooking the town. The property is called Rancho Barro Blanco (White Clay Ranch) in honor of the pottery. The ranch house lacks the pots he is known for but his house in Mata Ortiz property is filled with them along with his awards and photographs documenting his career. (Ref. Wikipedia)