The Ortega Family
Santa Cruz de las Huertas, Jalisco
Following traditions passed on from family matron Natividad Hernandez, Gerardo Ortega became the fourth generation in his family trained in making barro betus. This is a form of glazed pottery burnished with a pre-Columbian Toltec technique that uses the resin of betula birch trees mixed with egg whites. Barro betus is one of several distinct styles of pottery made in the Tonala region of Mexico, but it is only produced in the village of Santa Cruz de las Huertas, where the Ortegas live.
The Ortegas, considered masters of the artform, are renowned for the charm and whimsy of their animal figures, particularly their chickens, cows, and dogs. It is possible that their playfulness is drawn from daily life in the taller, or workshop, where the Ortega family lives with a constant menagerie of rescued animals awaiting new homes. Gerardo Ortega, his brothers Oscar and Eleuterio, as well as their sons, daughters, nephews, and nieces all help with production, design, and painting of the Ortega pieces.
A pink cow with flowers, created by Gerardo Ortega, is near the huppa; an orange chicken, by Gustavo Ortega, overlooks the big pool; a red chicken, by Gustavo Ortega, is in the courtyard; a red chicken, by Gerardo Ortega, is near the huppa; a figure in a brown robe, by Gerardo Ortega, is in the courtyard; a green and yellow caterpillar, by Gerardo Ortega, is in basement on the east wall.
Learn more about the Ortegas and barro betus here. Watch this short video made in the Ortegas’ taller. Read about many forms of ceramics made in Jalisco and the influence Jorge Wilmot, here.
Pink Cow With Flowers
Painted ceramic, wire
14h x 14w x 5d in
Location: Outdoors at PMG on the southern wall near the huppa