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Pasión Popular: Latin American folk art exhibition opens at San Antonio Museum of Art
Boxers, mid- 20th Century, Ecuador. Painted wood; avg. 13 3Ž4 x 5 x 4 1/2 in. San Antonio Museum of Art, Gift of Peter P. Cecere, 2006.1. 289a, b. Photo: Peggy Tenison.

SAN ANTONIO, TX.- “You’ve never seen anything like this,” says Marion Oettinger, curator of Latin American Art at SAMA and the upcoming exhibition Pasión Popular: Spanish and Latin American Folk Art from the Cecere Collection. “These are remarkable pieces—there are no clichés here. The pieces are unique and for the most part very rare.”

The exhibition features 200 of the nearly 400 works that have been donated to SAMA by collector Peter P. Cecere over the past 10 years. Cecere was a career foreign service officer who collected folk art for more than 50 years. For Cecere, folk art was a passionate pursuit and a means for exploring cultural patterns and social structures of his host countries.

Pasión Popular is organized by function: The Faces of Folk Art, The Beauty of Utility, The Shape of Belief, The Art of Diversion, and Art for the Sake of Beauty and Memory. The exhibition presents objects from the eighteenth century to modern times that originate from different Hispanic cultures of Spain and Mexico, as well as from Latin American countries such as Guatemala, Peru and Chile.

Objects include utilitarian ones such as bowls, oil jars, and bread stamps for personalizing loaves in communal ovens, as well as shop signs, puppets, dance masks, toys, carousel figures, and religious paintings. They are crafted of everything from wood, cloth, and metal, to tin, leather, and cork. “Folk art is ephemeral: the objects are made to use and use up. Even items that were designed to be more permanent are often made from fleeting, inexpensive materials,” says Oettinger. “To find pieces from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries of this caliber is pretty extraordinary.”

The Peter P. Cecere gift is the most important addition to SAMA’s folk art collection since the Rockefeller/Winn donations of 1985, which form the foundation of the Museum’s outstanding Latin American collection. Pasión Popular will be on view through August 11.

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