by Gustavo Garcia Hernandez
No one knows the exact moment mining and metallography began in the Americas. In Mexico it is believed metal working started sometime during the tenth century, and was more than likely introduced form Costa Rica or Panama. Most early objects don't show signs of primitive construction, indicating that the craft was likely perfected beyond the country's borders. Early Mexican metalsmiths employed, among other minerals, gold, silver, copper and occasionally lead. In all, they used 14 different types of metal minerals and 35 non-metallic minerals in their work, explains Carlos Gomez, director of Guadalajara based Orfebres Mezquitan metal smithing art studio. The workshop is one of few of its kind in the city, and is nationally know for producing fine, original works of art in gold, silver, copper; bronze and other precious and semi-precious metals.
Created in 1997, thanks to the help of painter Mario Martin Campo, the studio opened by offering a three month course on tin working to attract area artists.
Among some of the early participants included important names such as Jorge Wilmot,
Several younger artists also joined giving the new studio a fresh atmosphere. The move into others types of metal work and sculpture came about naturally, according to Come. The workshop soon developed a base of talented, well-know artists. One of these was Gloria Gomez, who under the direction of del Campo, produced some surprising pieces through the workshop.
Anibal Gutierrez, whose previous experience included works in the plastic arts, also bloomed through the studio's backing. Artists Francisco Javier Malo got their beginnings trough Orfberes Mezquitan. They, and many of their companions, have become of the most important creators of modern Mexican sculpture.
The studio has become a spring-board for many artists, encouraging them to mount independent exhibits in others galleries. "We respect the determination and creativity of our artists and feel proud of the work each one of them has produced," comments Carlos Gomez.
Because the studio's objective is to build a place where creativity is encouraged, it is not uncommon that many other artists are drawn the workshop. Such is the case with the Lucia Maya and Ismael Vargas, both of whom have produced a series of sculptures through Mezquitan which have been well received by art collectors.
"Obviously we've benefited by the high quality of artists who have worked with us. They help give the studio an important reputation. One of the first artists to solicit out services was Judith Gutierrez, she did a sculpture casting in the silver with us." Benito Zamora is another dignitary from the art scene who has become a friend of the studio, creating several important works by Martin de Campo in silver and bronze. They are highly sought after by art lovers," notes Gomez.
Over the past five years the studio has reached a high level of production, churning out pieces of excellent quality with a good market value both in the exhibitions and auctions. More and more artists are requiring the studio's services, as was the case for Jalisco artist Luis Valsoto, who recently created a small edition series trough the studio.
Orfebres Mezuitan is committed to supporting and promoting young talents. To date, their track record has been impressive. Among some the geniuses they have helped put in the limelight include Francisco Gomez, who won first place in 1996 for a sculpture exhibited in Expo-joya ( a large jewelry exhibit and show) that year: Aniabl Gutierrez took the silver for his piece in 1997, and in 1998 Gloria Gomez' sculpture won the prestigious award. Gutierrez also won the Jalisco premium for Orfebres Mezquitan, and in 1999, Pascal Pigeau (see El antiQuario Vol. 1, No. 5, Kaleidoscopes, by Fermin Soto Muños) received an important award for the fourth consecutive year, for a piece created in the studio. "We are so proud of what our artists have accomplished over the years," says Gomez.
Another artist who has worked with the studio is Sebastian who realized 500 sculptures in plaster and another 103 pieces in bronze of the famous Arcos del Milenio project during the end of 1999. One of the most recent works undertaken by Mezquitan was the creation of sculpture "La Palma de Colima," which was cast a series of 25 pieces.
The studio's impressive curriculum is a gaining the attention of Mexican art collectors form around the world. "The works that have been coming out of Orfebres Mezquitan are exhibited not only locally, but internationally as well. Our goal is to continue supporting both whit out artists and those with a name in the art world, the studio's director.