Mexico City Sketchbook...
by Joseph Thomas
What a way to feel like family! From the first time I heard his voice on the message machine I knew that there was something good going between Bob Alvarado and myself. His "barrel" voice, it has the timbre of a large bass speaker, reminded me of two of my better friends from the States-- and they are major swappers and traders, too!
We hit it off great during our first meeting, just a few steps from one of Mexico City's most important antiques markets. After a couple hours and several cups of coffee, we both agreed that Mexico City had enormous potential for antiques collectors. With that shared vision, now I have the pleasure of working with him and a great, building staff to give you the best in news and features from central Mexico.
Chicago was one big flea market when I grew up, and the best stuff was the "junk" thrown away when a neighboring family moved or someone's grandparent died. About the same time I learned to shave, Uncle Sam took me on an expenses-paid tour of the U.S. from the Southeastern states to the wonderful Pacific Northwest.
On the courthouse steps in Peabody, Kentucky, the "good old boys" showed me the art of swapping knives, and the packers at Nine-Mile, Montana taught me well the knack of working with mules (and what "stuff" was really valuable). In Darrington, Washington I learned a lot about coal oil lamps and stomping out forest fires with a "Pulaski."
Here in Mexico City we have some world-class hagglers and dealers. Many of these friendly traders have long family roots that go back more than 3,000 years on this land. The "stuff" traded here comes from past centuries as well as this current one, and has a quality of hand work that gives it a patina of warmth.
Central Mexico is the heartland of its people. The pieces that come from here have an unmistakable hallmark, a special combination of grace and tradition. This holds true for both the work of past generations and that of the new generation of artisans and artists. Many of the pieces that will be on exhibit in museums in Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Tokyo and Paris 10 to 20 years from now are being sold today in the small markets and less frequented galleries of Mexico City.
I look forward to sharing with our multinational readers a love of good antiques and the arts-- and in partaking in the fun of collecting and reporting on them. Plus, I am happy to announce that our readership is expanding! Copies of the past issue are on their way as I write this to antiques and arts brokers in France, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. These people, too, want to share in what Mexico has to offer.
Standing at the foot of "The Angel of Independence" monument, one of Mexico City's focal points, I can't help but think how wonderful it is being at the heart of a new market.