Some 30 years ago, a youthful 27 year old acquired a piece of machinery by chance. Not knowing exactly what to do with it, or how it could somehow become a positive factor in his life, he took a gamble and purchased some modest tools and metal. Armando Lozano Ramírez was then living in Puerto Vallarta, at a time and within an environment where a rich crafts tradition had been emerging. It was within this context that he began experimenting with then innovative techniques, out of necessity using one of the more affordable precious metals…brass.|
Today, entering the combined home, workshop and gallery of Maestro Lozano, tucked away just off the main highway running through San Bartolo Coyotepec, a short drive from Oaxaca, one cannot help but be stunned by both the diversity and uniqueness of his work in terms of form, function and size. Entrancing best describes the overall impression when viewing his exceptional art: jewelry and sculpture, handcrafted in brass with acid-induced hews of aquamarine accenting most pieces. The intricacy of each one-of-a-kind design, with not only pre-Hispanic but also African influences is remarkable, perhaps surprising given that we're in the midst of a Zapotec cultural tradition perceived to be manifest in works of iron and silver, stone, clay and wood.
Apart from the foregoing historical and contemporary sources, Maestro Lozano receives his inspiration musing through his daily walks and bicycle rides which characterize his early morning ritual, or otherwise through quiet contemplation and meditation. When his creative forces somehow manage to escape through a lack of discipline, going out and viewing a film sometimes spurs their return.
Armando's financial fortunes are at times similarly fleeting, fluctuating with seasonal tourism and his ability to attract patrons. While he is sometimes out of state doing expositions and workshops, it's his home sales upon which he primarily relies for his livelihood, without displaying his works in downtown shops and galleries.|
Whether you're greeted by the Gran Maestro himself, his son who carries on the tradition, or his wife whose paintings and etchings grace the walls of the studio, one cannot help but be impressed by the overall humility. The welcome may at first appear muted, but within seconds the warmth of the family draws you in. Each piece is marked with a code on the back, referencing a price which must be looked up, easily enough. This means of “marketing” might appear to signify lofty pricing, but in fact the opposite is the case. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the affordability of such tasteful and functional original works of art, whether your interest is in a thought-provoking sculpture to adorn a coffee table or mantle, a necklace, pendant, bracelet or earrings.
Armando Lozano Ramírez, Independencia 26, San Bartolo Coyotepec, Oaxaca. Telephone: 044 (951) 103-5279
Resident Oaxacan Alvin Starkman, together with wife Arlene operates Casa Machaya Oaxaca Bed & Breakfast. He includes a stop by Armando's on one of the tours he offers.