I first heard of the Aguilar sisters… well, actually not he sisters collectively but whichever one bravely created the “Nativity in a Taxi Cab” piece, which I can’t locate anywhere on the internet now. Then a FLICKR contact recommended we track the sisters down. Turns out that the sisters live just beyond the town where our arebrijes are made, so we decided to seek them out on our way towards Colima.
Once we got close to Ocotlan de Morelos, we had a feeling we would find them even without directions. It wasn’t too far into the outskirts when we passed a sign that had the Aguilar name on it, so I immediately pulled a u-turn and went back. Down a dusty road behind a repair station, we found the home of Conception Aguilar.
Victoria usually announces our arrival and hence our desire to enter the home or workspace of whoever we’re visiting. Good thing, if I were doing this on my own, as they say in Brooklyn, FUGGEDABOUDIT! But her subdued and culturally proper manner of announcing our arrival is usually met with a smiling face and warm welcome. The home of Conception Aguilar was no exception.
On the way in to the display area, I noticed from my eye’s corner (how can something round have a corner?) a young man sitting at a table with a fine paintbrush in hand, and Conception was assisted by a young woman who seemed to be both an assistant and a security guard. This was the first inkling of the “passing of the guard” phenomenon that would reoccur throughout our visit to the sisters, but it wasn’t so obvious at that moment.
I didn’t take too many images at Conception’s home, in fact I only took photos of her. We did buy quite a few pieces from her collection including a few of the bugs in the background, followed by mermaids and calaveras (skeletons). We still had three sisters to go, and since Conception was at a distance from the others me thought me should be conservative. She and her daughter were quite reassuring that the pieces we selected would get wrapped up and taken over to ship collectively with whatever was to follow. We bid farewell and headed for the Aguilar Trifecta.
When we arrived at the location of the three other sisters home/workshops, we could see that they were clearly decorated and adorned in differing styles. Irene’s was probably the most ornate, and a bench outside for visitors was ladened with a number of pasty-white visitors. Her’s being the first in the line of the three, we stepped next door to Guillermia’s place. After Victoria gave the appropriate announcement call we were greeted by a woman maybe in her 40′s, who guided us and invited us in. This would be her daughter, who like Conception’s daughter earlier, stood by her mother’s side during the entire visit. Well actually, she did step back when it was appropriate, when we were simply talking and not necessarily talking business. The next sign of the “changing of the guard” vibe.
All that aside, Guillermina was absolutely precious. As you might be able to tell from the image of her (upper right), her spirit exudes from her eyes, her mouth, her very presence. Even without being privy to the conversation going on between her and Victoria (and I’m not getting too much translation these days), it reminded me the times when Lupita (Victoria’s mother) and I can have a totally incomprehensible (regarding language) conversation with one another, yet understand each other completely. Guillermina showed us into her room that held her collection of creations, a variety of sizes and themes. From the playful “Mujeres de la Noche” (Ladies of the Night) and the nuns stripping themselves of their hobbits, to the grand creations that entailed panels and little outboard attachments. The Catarina (feminine icon of the calaveras) to the Serina (mermaid), both large and complex pieces had been sitting on the shelves for 2-years, as Guillermina said the tourists only want to take photos of their work and then leave. We bought both of them and took pictures of Guillermina instead. Aside from those two amazing pieces –which I don’t think we will sell– we bought probably a dozen more. I’m pretty sure that she was responsible for the Nativity in the Taxi Cab piece but it never came up. We chatted for quite some time; family matters and finances, earthquakes and loss of pieces, drinking Mezcal, her travels over the years, raising her sisters as daughters… we covered a lot of ground but not enough. We were feeling a bit pinched for time (still two sisters to go), so we bid farewell and headed down the line to visit Josefina.