Anthropologist and self-admitted yard sale enthusiast Spencer MacCallum serendipitously helped change the life of a Mexican potter, his town, and the entire tradition of an art form after wandering into a run-down second hand store in Deming, New Mexico nearly 30 years ago.
It was in Bob's Swap Shop where MacCallum would find the clues that would ultimately lead him to meet the artist Juan Quezada, who crafted a piece of pottery he had been infatuated with for years.
The two men went on to form an incredible friendship that would push Quezada to create some of the most magnificent and innovative pottery to date. These pieces of pottery have won Quezada awards including Premio Nacional de las Ciencias y las Artes, the most prestigious award given by the Mexican government.
"The Renaissance of Mata Ortiz" was directed, produced, and edited by award winning filmmaker Scott Petersen who was inspired after seeing a television piece about the small town of Mata Ortiz, which is now largely recognized for its Paquimé Pottery.
"I took a trip down there from LA (where I live) and then convinced my cameraman buddy Pete Biagi from Chicago be a part of the adventure the following summer," Petersen writes. "We shot for two to three weeks each summer in the village from 2007 to 2009."
Petersen says the film is important not only because it showcases how art can reignite a culture of people both creatively and economically but also because of its cross-cultural element.
"Without an American and Mexican working together, the village would certainly not exist as it does today," he writes. "It's almost a Mexican/American twist on It's a Wonderful Life!"
"The Renaissance of Mata Ortiz" will be screened for free Wednesday, December 12 at 7 p.m at Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation at Taliesin West located at 12621 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. Scottsdale, AZ 85259.
Another artist, Diego Valles, who is featured in the film, is the current artist-in-residence at Taliesin West.
Check out the Taliesin website for any additional information on the screening.