A new exhibit brings the art of Jalisco, Mexico to the Mile High City.

Saber Acomodar: Art and Workshops of Jalisco 1915-Now opens Wednesday, September 13 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA) as part of this month’s city-wide Biennial of the Americas, the semi-annual cultural festival and symposium. The exhibit showcases the work of Jalisco artisans (think: potters, carpenters, blacksmiths, and jewelers), alongside fine art pieces by the state’s artists—as well as collaborations between the two cohorts. Guest curator Patrick Charpenel says there exists a causative relationship between craft artisans and the fine artists that flourished in the Jalisco region. In many ways, the former nurtured and gave rise to the latter. 

“When we talk about conceptual art, we’re always talking the dematerialization of the art object,”Charpenel says. “I wanted to talk about the opposite. I wanted to prove that an idea needs to have sustrato [substratum, a material foundation or basis for something].”

Untitled, by Jorge Pardo. Photo Courtesy of MCA Denver.

“Saber Acomodar” translates roughly to “know-how,” or “to know where to place.” Charpenel hopes viewers of the exhibit—paintings, sculpture, pottery, metalwork and woodwork spanning MCA’s three floors—will notice and appreciate the artists’ choice of material and expertise in execution. Saber Acomodar is divided into sections that demonstrate the conversation between traditional artisans of 20th-century Jalisco and the fine artists that followed. One area of the exhibition, for example, showcases cultural roots evident in the region’s artisanal works, another highlights the traditional and contemporary application of materials, and another makes evident the relationship between the artisan or artist and the time and patience it takes to create, say, exquisitely crafted pottery.

“The way contemporary artists [from Jalisco] are re-codifying cultural symbols, it’s interesting to see how there came, mainly in Guadalajara, a space to show that contemporary art also deals with artisanal work,” Charpenel says. “[In this exhibition] modern and contemporary work over time deals with the idea of production…and the universe of an artisan and the universe of an artist become one unique product.”

You can find the exhibit at MCA through January 21. Beginning Monday, September 18, a rotation of four artists from Jalisco will begin residencies at the museum; details will be announced later this week.

If You Go: Saber Acomodar Opening Celebration, Wednesday, September 13, 6–11 p.m.; MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street; 303-298-7554. $10–$25.

Haley Gray
Haley Gray
Haley Gray is a Boulder-based freelance journalist. Her work has appeared in 5280, Roads and Kingdoms, Boulder Magazine, and the Albuquerque Journal.