In the neighborhood of Santa Cruz de las Huertas, a village near Guadalajara Mexico, artists work in "Barro Betus", clay art that is rubbed with a mixture of Birch sap and egg white prior to firing. This mixture produces a uniquely glossy sheen on the pieces, frequently fantastical animal mixtures called Naguals as well as other pieces: hotels, cars, trains, people and birds.
Father: Candelario Medrano
Born in 1918, Candelario worked in clay his life, his work was making ceramic sewer pipes and roof tiles. In the evening he would make toys and figures. In the early 1960's he began making and selling other figurines: busses, churches, castles, bandstands, arks filled with animals, boats, trucks, and fanciful creatures. He also became well known for his nahuals. A nahual is a mythical figure, popular in Mexican traditional life. Half animal/half human, it is a shape shifter, a magical creature who can create mischief or help in time of need. Naghals use their powers for good or evil according to their personality. Many Mexican folk artists still incorporate nahuals into their work.
Candelario Medrano’s brightly colored and distinctively Mexican sculptures had a primitive quality and a humorous edge that appealed greatly to American tourists. By the '70s, Candelario Medrano was considered one of Mexico’s most original and famous folk artists, and his work was widely collected. His works are still highly collectable whenever they surface.
Son: Serapio Medrano
As a child, Serapio learned about making the Barro Betus. When he was 14 he began selling his work to help the family. When Candelario died in 1986, his son Serapio Medrano continued the tradition his father had begun but added a distinctive style from his dreams he developed an even greater range of items like pregnant chickens, a fat saucy mermaid, or primitive animals.
Grandson: Juan José Ramos Medrano
Candelario’s grandson, Juan Jose Ramos Medrano, is also carrying on the town tradition with his naguals, bullrings, whistles, fantastical animals and scenes. He has won a number of national competitions for his work.
New generations of artists continue the tradition of making these fantastical figures and creatures. Barro Betus figures are quintessential Mexican Folk Art creatures and figures generated by the artists dreams and brought to light by amazing, talented artists.