Internationally acclaimed Zapotec textile artist and dyer Porfirio Gutierrez held a trunk show at the Coop, the turquoise building housing Sunset Ride Wine in Sonoita, on March 18 and 19. A large turnout of people came from Sonoita, Elgin, Patagonia and Green Valley to enjoy the exhibits, talks, discussions with the artist and opportunities to purchase his rugs. Wine tasting and food added to the festive mood. Beautiful textiles, large and small, were hung for viewing and displayed on tables along with an exhibit of natural dye materials.
Gutierrez grew up in Teotitlan del Valle in Oaxaca, Mexico, learning how plants provide healing and color. His life’s work has been revitalizing and preserving traditional Zapotec natural dye techniques while reflecting his own creative vision.
“I am celebrating my ancestors, doing it with integrity, and to feed my family,” he said. “I believe my ancestors are proud of my being here, and of my work.”
Today, Gutierrez has studios in Ventura, California where he lives with his wife and two children, and in Oaxaca, Mexico. He travels back and forth as his ancestors and other indigenous peoples have for thousands of years.
Textiles by Gutierrez are displayed in museums and galleries around the world. There are three pieces in the Smithsonian National Museum of The American Indian, and others in Mexico, the Netherlands, Egypt, Canada, the United Kingdom, and here in the United States. He has been invited to give lectures in South Korea, Harvard, in Washington, DC, and many other universities and museums. Most recently, he and his entire family traveled to Dubai for an event.
At his trunk show in Sonoita, Gutierrez gave two well-received talks entitled “The Intersection of Natural Dyes and Taste” and “How pH Affects Color.” He also offered advice on how to care for the textiles, saying, “I just want you to know that you have a responsibility to care for these treasures.”
Jeanne Peterson, of Sonoita, first met Gutierrez ten years ago at an Amerind Museum event. After meeting up with him again last year at an event near Phoenix, Peterson invited him to come to Sonoita. “The event was hugely successful,” she said. “He sold 90% of the weavings he brought.” She would like to get him back in the future for another show, perhaps also bringing in Oaxacan sculptors and jewelry makers, as well as Mata Ortiz pottery. “He is the rock star of weavers right now,” she said. “It was a gift to us to have him out here.”