The Guest Gallery Featured Artists
Julia Fuentes &
Jose Juan Melchor
– Oaxaca, Mexico
Julia Fuentes Santiago was born in the village of San Martin Tilcajete, Oaxaca in 1976. Julia is the daughter of the world famous Master Carver Epifanio Fuentes and Laurencia Santiago. She began painting at the young age of thirteen, by helping her parents in the family workshop. Being surrounded by the artistic traditions of her family since childhood, she was inspired to further her own talents as an artist. Julia went on to study art at the prestigious Bellas Artes of Oaxaca, a feat that no other artist of note from the three traditional carving villages has achieved. She graduated as an instructor of fine art in 1999.
After their marriage, Julia Fuentes and Jose Juan Melchor started their own Oaxacan wood carving studio in 2002. They are the parents of two young children, Jonatan and Celeste, whom they hope will someday carry on the rich traditions of their parents and grandparents. Julia and Jose Juan carve Copal wood and then paint stunning animal figures in the style that Oaxaca has become famous for. Jose Juan dedicates himself to the carving of these fantastic pieces, while Julia is in charge of the painting. The couple’s work has gained international acclaim for the complexity of their carvings, and for a painting style that reigns at the top of their craft. We applaud the fact that their work shares the familiar folk art feelings of whimsy, color and tradition that their families are known for, yet demonstrate their own individual fine art contributions to the medium.
The animal wood carvings that are the couple’s trademark portray a wonderful sense of movement and curiosity. Their painting style is at the top of their field, and reflects an expert level of shading with a sense of graduation in the colors. Although Julia uses her fine art studies to refine the painting techniques found in Oaxacan wood carvings, she honors the traditions that her family is famous for. Most notable is her use of Zapotec Indian symbolism as medallions that often appear on the body of the animal, creating a fusion between the past and the present. One of our favorite of the symbols that the couple uses in their work is that of the Pre-Hispanic owl that the Zapotecs believe is the messenger between humans and the gods. The couple maintains the sense of color and whimsy that these woodcarvings are known affectionately for, but raise the carvings to a fine art level. Their work often combines a beautiful band work reminiscent of herringbone patterns, with a stunning combination of colors that immediately catches the eye. Due to the expert level of craftsmanship, Julia and Jose Juan have been invited to exhibit their work in Oaxaca and Puerto Vallarta, as well as in Texas, New Mexico and California. Their work is carried in major folk art galleries around the world. Julia Fuentes and Jose Juan Melchor are the rising stars of the Oaxacan wood carvings, and their work is sought after by numerous collectors.