Pantoja is a scubby little brick-making village not too far from San Miguel de Allende where most of the townspeople wade around knee-deep in mud, mixing the mortar used in firing bricks.
Seventy-something, or even eight-something (he's not quite sure about his age), Esteban Valdes Ramirez took a different course in life. Like his father before him, Esteban became a potter and a folk artist of much acclaim.Today, his rare ceramics pieces are sought by collectors and, indeed, one graces the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.! Esteban adorns his bowls with sketches of whimsical beasts and other fanciful subjects and marks each ceramic with a large E.V..
Finding Esteban and his rustic home was an adventure, but we did find him. Since, I have been back many times. His wife is wrapping up the bowls that I had purchased for gifts and for me, of course. I went home and hung a series of them above the wet bar on my mirador (roof top patio).