With extensive selection of museum Quality Latin American Folk Art. Shelby Oliphant Tells Her Story: From Mexico to Bend
The first time I traveled into Mexico’s interior, I had left my 18 month old son and several family members in Texas begging me not to go. Reluctantly, I went anyway. I flew to Oaxaca and was picked up by Linda, an expat, that owned the bed and breakfast that I would call home for the next week. It was already dark when I landed and Linda quickly made her way through winding streets with blinking lights and signs that seemed to have no bearing or meaning. I laughed nervously, thinking in the back of my mind, that maybe this was a mistake.
Turned out I was wrong. Oaxaca ended up being a life changing experience. I met the most amazing artisans, humble and proud, in all the outlying villages of Oaxaca de Juarez. There was the family of weavers who, on a whim, invited us in for lunch: delicious homemade tamales wrapped in banana leaves. I watched Irma Blanco create one of her famous figures from clay in her simple home and studio and came back later that week to purchase it from her after it was fired. The most amazing people I had ever had the pleasure to meet.
It was a few years before I had the opportunity to return to Mexico. When I did, it was to Patzcuaro, Michoacan for The Day of the Dead Celebration. This holiday celebrates and honors relatives who have passed on. They create altars with pictures of their loved ones and offer gifts of Pan de Muerto, fruit and trinkets for the children. I was very familiar with the holiday and its traditions, having read about it and seen pictures but nothing could prepare me for the experience.
Being in a cemetery in the middle of Mexico, in the middle of the night, watching families gather around graves, singing songs, laughing, and remembering. Tradition says someone from the family stays at the deceased’s graveside all night long. Everything could be seen clearly, awash in yellow from the light of the candles and the color of the marigolds. This, along with all the artisans in the Plaza all that week was it for me. I was hooked.
I had studied art, photography and worked in galleries, but was unsure how to bring this all together. That’s when I was lucky enough to meet a couple who was looking to pass on what they knew from running a successful Mexican Folk Art and furniture business. Amy and Bob became my mentors and business partners. Now, after numerous buying trips with them and an immersion study of the intricacies of importing Folk Art and textiles from Mexico and Latin America, I’m on my way to opening my own business.
They also connected me with David Marsh, a master craftsman and furniture builder whose work I love. I am thrilled to be able to carry his line. All this is a dream come true and I can’t wait to share it with you.
COSAS NW will offer the widest selection of museum quality Latin American folk art; accessories; textiles, clothing and jewelry and handmade furniture from David Marsh.
115 NW Minnesota Ave., Bend.
Hours: Mon-Sat 10-6, Sunday 12-5.
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