fran gealer is based in los angeles. her work has appeared in publications such as coastal living, travel + leisure, and bon appétit.
bringing oaxaca home
the range of handicrafts produced in outlying villages is available for sale in the mercado de abastos, on sidewalks, and in various shops in the city center. but many of the pueblos are only a short drive from the capital, and here you can not only buy, but watch creation in action.
san bartolo coyótepec, known for its highly polished black pottery, is 12 kilometers south of oaxaca on carreterra federal 175. look for signs saying alfareria, or pottery. other villages known for pottery include santa maría atzompa, where the renowned aguilar sisters work, and tonaltpec and yohueche, each with its own distinctive style.
san antonio arrazola, the birthplace of alebríjes, is on the zaacchila road southwest of the city, near the airport. the godfather of the fantastic figures, don manuel jimenez still works in this village. serious collectors follow his creations, so they are comparatively expensive - starting at around $150 - but he is the recognized master. the work of other local artisans, while less collectible, is much less expensive, and many produce very fine figures.
teotitlán del valle, mexico's most famous weaving village, is 29 kilometers from oaxaca, just north of carreterra federal 190, near the mitla ruins. tapetes are sold in a small market near the zócalo, and also in myriad shops along the rutted main street.
for fine art, your first stop should be galería quetzalli, constitucion 104 in oaxaca city. also worth visiting are arte de oaxaca (founded in 1987 with the help of rodolfo morales; murguia 105) and galería grafica soruco (on the plazuela labastida), which represents luis zárate, josé villalobos, and guillermo olguín, among many others.