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E. TX town’s Latino population growth responsible for local museum receiving one of the nation’s largest Mexican folk art collections

LatinaLista — In the laid-back East Texas town of Tyler, total population less than 100,000, there was a strange sign of how even small towns in one of the reddest states in the Union aren’t immune to demographic changes.

Tyler-2.jpgTyler boasts a Latino population of about 40,000, 20 percent of its population. It’s a fact of life that is responsible for Tyler being selected as the new home of one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive collections of contemporary Mexican folk art.

Beaded serpent. Artist unknown (Mexican, dates unknown). Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas, Mexico. Wood core, bee’s wax, glass seed beads.

According to an article in artdaily, the 650-piece collection was donated to the Tyler Museum of Art by Dallasites Laura and Dan Boeckman. It’s comprised of pieces the couple has collected over the last twenty years from every state in Mexico, except for Chiapas.

The main reason Tyler was selected by the Boeckmans was because of the growing local Latino population and the fact that the Tyler Museum of Art plans on building a new museum which will house the largest single donation by one source in the museum’s history.

Starting their collection in the late 1980s, the Boeckmans soon realized that the kind of pieces they were purchasing were quickly becoming lost art forms and needed to be preserved.

“Much of Mexican folk art is utilitarian,” Boeckman explained. “It’s simply cheaper to buy paper plates than to make them yourself. Also, the untrained folk artists are diminishing in number for various reasons, one being that their communities have been disrupted.”

The collection contains many different types of media ranging from ceramics, textile, woodcarvings, papier mâché, paper, straw and seeds. While some of the pieces are decorated utensils for daily use, such as plates and water jugs, others are toys and ornaments.

Yet, still other pieces encompass the ceremonial and ritual heritage of Mexico with pieces such as elaborately detailed candelabras and trees of life.

Stephen Vollmer, former chief curator at the El Paso Museum of Art, who helped the Boeckmans assemble their pieces feels that while the collection is smaller than what can be found in city museums with bigger Mexican folk art collections, the Boeckman’s stands apart from others for a simple reason.

“The Boeckman collections offers a view into Mexican culture,” said Vollmer. “It provides a perspective of historical and contemporary values that complements the academic art that most museums concentrate on.”

“The Laura and Dan Boeckman Collection of Mexican Folk Art ensures that the Museum’s collection represents the cultural heritage of the growing segment of our community,” explained Kimberley Tomio, Tyler Museum of Art Director. “This is important as the Museum strives to serve our local and regional population in its diverse entirety.

“We look forward to promoting awareness and understanding of the rich artistic legacy demonstrated by this collection in our educational programming both for students and adults.”

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