de Plata: William Spratling and the Mexican Silver Renaissance
Traveling Museum Exhibit Sponsored by the San Antonio Museum
beautifuly displayed exhibit is a "Must See!"
exhibit ran from October 6, 2002 until September 26, 2004, completing tours in San Antonio, San Diego,
Los Angeles, Albuquerque, New Orleans and Winterthur.
of more than 400 objects includes works by William Spratling,
Héctor Aguilar, Emilia Castillo, Sigi Pineda, and many more
When William Spratling and other
silver designers moved to Taxco, Mexico in the late 1920s,
they did more than breathe life back into Mexico's dormant
silversmithing industry; they revolutionized the art of silvermaking.
That revolution is chronicled in Maestros de Plata:
William Spratling and the Mexican
Silver Renaissance, the
premier exhibition of Mexican silver. Curated by Penny Chittim
Morrill, one of the world's leading authorities on the subject,
and organized by the San Antonio Museum of Art, the exhibition
made its national debut at the San Antonio Museum of Art on
October 6, 2002.
The catalogue that accompanied
Maestros de Plata was published by Harry N. Abrams.
This major publication on modern Mexican silver includes essays
by Penny Morrill and other Mexican history and art authorities
economics of the silver industry; its cultural and historical
context; hallmarking and silversmithing techniques; and the
envisioned future for Mexican silver. Contributors include
Gobi Stromberg, Helen Delpar, Adriana Williams, Christie Romero,
Phyllis Goddard, John Scott, Patrick Kapty, and Jaime Castrejón.
Maestros de Plata traces the remarkable changes in
Mexican silver design set in motion in the 1930s by William
Spratling and his development of the workshop as a setting
for creativity. From his workshop emerged talented Mexican
silver designers who in turn began their own workshops,
many of which continue to create to the present
day. The more than 400 objects in the exhibition date from
the 1930s to the present, and include not only a wide array
of silver jewelry, but also tableware, decorative items,
sculpture, and more. In addition to the approximately 120
Spratling creations are works by more than 20 preeminent
silver designers living in Mexico, including the Castillo
family of Los Castillo, Héctor Aguilar, Valentín
Vidaurreta, Margot de Taxco, Ana Brilanti, Antonio Pineda,
Frederick Davis, Jean Puiforcat, Sigi Pineda, Salvador Terán,
Matilde Poulat, and Tane.
Memory of Alberto Ulrich
It is with sadness
that we announce that Alberto Ulrich died on November 24,
2002. Alberto purchased the Spratling ranch after William
Spratling's death, and then formed the company Sucesores
de William Spratling that has produced reissues of many
of Spratling's designs for more than thirty years. Ulrich's
daughter, Violante, is planning to continue producing silver
at the ranch in Taxco el Viejo.
wrote the following eulogy that beautifully expresses what
so many feel.
In the day of
prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider;
God has made the one as well as the other. (Ecclesiastes
Life lived to
the fullest. Alberto knew both joy and adversity and he
confronted each with a positive and powerful energy matched
by few. Everything he attempted was on a grand scale: motorcycle
racer, deep-sea diver, airplane pilot, art connoisseur,
and collector; nothing daunted him. When I consider Alberto's
life, what comes to my mind is a verse from Psalm 118, "This
is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be
glad in it."
A life force within
Alberto drew people to him. He engaged them with his wit
and conversation. His life experiences gave him the ability
to speak with authority on any number of subjects. He loved
traveling to new places; and the more exotic and remote
these destinations were, the more he relished the adventure
of it all. At the center, Alberto was an aesthete, a lover
of beauty: beautiful silver objects, paintings, sculpture,
architecture, and beautiful women.
to live in Mexico, at the Spratling ranch in Taxco-el-Viejo.
The ranch house was an assault on the senses, emerging as
it did from dense tropical growth. The textures of weathered
wood, white-washed walls, and tile floors warming in the
sun spoke of invitation. As long as I live, I will never
forget the mid-day meals in the open-air dining room, where
Alberto was a most gracious host.
Alberto was the
keeper of the Spratling legacy, and he took it very seriously.
The 1987 exhibit at the Centro Cultural/Arte Contemporaneo
brought attention to William Spratling as a world-class
designer. Alberto spent much time on the meticulous and
well-crafted reproductions of Spratling's work and shared
with lovers of fine silver jewelry and decorative objects.
We can all now count ourselves as fortunate, because of
Alberto's unswerving dedication to saving that legacy.
We will all miss
Alberto, but his absence will be most difficult for his
wife, his children, and those who love him. I can only say
in consolation, that you think of him as he lived. Recall
him at his best, and you will find it impossible to hold
back a smile. Even though Alberto is no longer present,
his gift to you will be those memories and they will bring
November 25, 2002