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Pottery with a cultural touch

STINA SIEG
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Standing in his livingroom, art collector Dale Titus, 63, gently holds a white pot, a geometric snake hissing around its corners. Part of why he loves work from Mata Ortiz, he said, is there’s just no way he could ever create it himself.

“No, I couldn’t make a stick man!” he laughs, his eyes sparkling, as he sets the pot gently back on a crowded shelf.

Along with fellow art collector Bart Victor, Titus is hosting two artists from the Chihuahua town: Carlos Carrila and Lela Silviera. On Friday and Saturday, the pair will demonstrate building, painting and firing pots in this world-famous style. Part of makes the techniques so special, said Titus, is that they don’t involve such modern influences as wheels and stencils.



With his deep, friendly voice, he spoke of his love for Mata Ortiz pottery. It began in Silver City, N.M., when he bought a small, intricately designed black pot. It was reminiscent of the Southwest work he’d been collecting for 25 years, with one large difference. It was a fraction of the price.

“There was something there that said that someone knew what they were doing,” he said.



Soon, he was making frequent trips to the town where it had been made. In a village of about 2,000, he estimated 500 were potters. “It’s like walking through a huge gallery when you walk through the town,” he said.

After continually coming back with 25 or so pieces for his own personal stash, he realized he might as well buy some extra work to sell. While it may not make a profit, he admitted, at least it helps pay for his hobby.

He walked through his home, showing off his own personal gallery of pots. In each room, he pointed out dozens of them, some on display on shelves, others wrapped in plastic, ready to send to buyers. Though the number is always fluctuating, he estimated he has about 200 in his possession. To him, each one represents a specific person, a certain place, a different story.

“That’s old Roberto,” he said, pointing to a pot, resembling a perfectly shaped egg. “I wonder what he’s doing today. That’s Juan. He’s probably up on his mountain.”

He spoke of that guy who can make wonderful work ” as long as he keeps his drinking in check. He mentioned the artists with whom he exchanges Pampers diapers for pottery. Of all the folks he knows down there, like in any town, there is only a handful he considers actual friends.

Carrila and Silviera are part of this group. Not only will the couple be staying with Titus and his wife while in Colorado, but he is transporting them to and from their home town.

Though Titus didn’t say as much, it was obvious that his appreciation for the pottery goes beyond the human connection or the sales aspect. It seems to be something bigger, something he couldn’t even name.

“It gives me energy,” he said. “I’m sure it doesn’t affect everyone like that. But they give me energy.”

Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111

ssieg@postindependent.com


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