Perhaps these dreamlike surroundings inspire Oaxaqueños to interpret their lives in art. Though the poorest state in Mexico, Oaxaca boasts an estimated 300,000 artists and artisans who support themselves through their work, whether traditional handicraft or fine art destined for galleries from Oaxaca City to San Francisco. Oaxaca produced Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991) and Rodolfo Morales (1925-2001), two of the most respected artists in Mexican history. Oaxacan native Francisco Toledo, considered Mexico's greatest living artist, still works in his Oaxaca studio.
And now a cadre of younger artists - Sergio Hernandez and Jose Villalobos, both already recognized in Mexico, and the up-and-coming Guillermo Olguín, Fernando Olivera, Luis Zarate, Emi Winter, and Maximino Javier, among others - work in styles so distinctive that critics see a "Oaxacan School" emerging.