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Thanks for stopping in... We’re a small Mexican folk art store located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We personally choose ALL of our hand made pieces from talented artisans all over the great country of Mexico.

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Zinnia Blog

01.07
2017

Behind the Scenes at Zinnia Folk Arts by Sloane LaCasse

Posted by Anne Damon in Zinnia Folk Arts News   /   LEAVE A COMMENT

For the past several months, I have had the opportunity to write some blog posts for Zinnia Folk Arts, an opportunity which has been great fun for me, both as an appreciator of Mexican craft and culture, and also as a personal blogger.  As I have been writing these posts, I have had many questions for the business owner, Anne Damon, and I suspect that many Zinnia customers have wondered some of the same things.  So, Anne and I decided to share the conversation we had recently, which was largely focused on how the business came to be, and also on how she keeps the product selection in the store fresh and authentic.

~Sloane LaCasse, mrsroseglasses.com

Anne Damon of Zinnia Folk Arts

 

People are often surprised to see a Mexican folk art shop thriving here in the frosty northern part of the U.S. I know I wondered about that as I passed by the storefront in seasons past.  I wondered how...

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08.18
2015

About Zinnia Folk Arts Mexican Folk Art Shop In Minneapolis

Posted by Anne Damon in Zinnia Folk Arts News   /   LEAVE A COMMENT

About Zinnia Folk Arts, A Mexican Folk Art Store

About Zinnia Folk Arts Mexican Folk Art Shop

Finally, a solution to your search for beautiful, top quality, well made, unique, hand crafted Mexican handicrafts!  If you've been to Mexico and found some beautiful talavera ceramics but couldn't get them home because they were too big or too heavy, Zinnia Folk Arts is for you. If you love

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01.04
2015

Looking Back at Zinnia Folk Arts in 2014

Posted by Anne Damon in Zinnia Folk Arts News   /   LEAVE A COMMENT

I traveled in many parts of Mexico during 2014, saw lots of artisans, met lots of wonderful people, including some very cute kids, and took lots of photos, so I thought you might be interested in some of my days...

Zinnia Folk Arts Year in Review

This is Chiapas in early February. I love the hand made textiles of Chiapas and every time I go, I find more women's cooperatives. This time I visited six cooperatives and found so many skilled artisans, many weaving at their back strap looms. It's a bit of hike to get there from Mexico City or Oaxaca but it's so worth it. The folk art is excellent, the food delicious and the atmosphere clean, colonial and European-esque.

Zinnia Folk Arts Year in Review

Everywhere I go in Mexico I visit artisans in their homes, their studios, their market puestos, or in their creative environments. The above photos are just a few of the hundreds of skilled Mexican artesanos that I have been privileged to meet. They are hard-working people, with joyful outlooks on life and so appreciative of others loving and purchasing their work. I revisit some people almost every time I go to Mexico and others, once a year or every couple years, and I am always greeted warmly and with an offer of a cafecito or a shot of tequila. Zinnia Folk Arts exists because of them and I am very grateful.

The homes and studios of most Mexican folk artists are very modest, often on unpaved roads, commonly living in dirt floor homes and some times creating folk art as a side job, in addition to farming or something else. When I am searching for a particular artist there can be lots of misses in terms of finding the exact address, because so many people in rural Mexico live on a named street but without a house number, for example, many artisans I visit are on Calle Juarez s/n or "sin nombre" (without a number) so it's not uncommon to knock on lots of doors and ask neighbors for the location of the particular artisano I'd like to visit. Finding people is one of the fun and unique challenges of the job!

Zinnia Folk Arts Year in Review

Here are just a few of the many things I've found over the last year that reflect the joy I see every day when I'm in Mexico. I'm frequently asked if I'm afraid to travel in Mexico. And my answer is, No. I am not Mexican and I understand that my answer might be different if I were. And I also always make the point that I'm careful and I don't do stupid things (wittingly anyway--I did accidentally miss a flight on my last trip).

The Mexico I know is the warm and generous people, the incredibly efficient bus system, the clean and safe but inexpensive hotels and their staff, the smiles of welcome when artisans see me coming and know I will be buying, the simple, delicious and cheap food, and so many other positive things. I have never had any run-ins with the police (except when the Federales helped my friend recover her purse which she left in a taxi in Mexico City--yes, she got it back!).

Mexico is a big country and there are good people and bad people there, just like in every other country in the world. I choose to not be afraid of one of the most interesting places in the world!

Zinnia Folk Arts Year in Review

You may know that I've been in the shop at 826 West 50th for almost three years! The space changes as the folk art changes so here are a few shots of some of the colorful merchandise we had during 2014. That fabulous bike in the second photo is not mine but belongs to a woman who decorates it every year (those are fake flowers) and rides around the neighborhood spreading smiles. Both of the Otomi bedspreads in these photos are gone, most of the tin bird candleholders are gone and all of the ceramics are gone but there's new folk art in the shop now, so stop in!

Zinnia Folk Arts Year in Review

2014 was the year I hired two part-time helpers to cover for me while I'm in Mexico and to work on Sundays. I was so lucky to find Leslie and Paulette. They are dedicated, warm, helpful, thoughtful people who have almost as much love for Zinnia Folk Arts as I do. They have both been great assets to the shop and positive, enjoyable people to be around. So thank you to them!

Other people--Roy, Connie, Marla, Jean--have been there for me since the beginning and I know will always be there.

We had several events in the shop this year and here are a few photos of one of the most popular ones--making Frida Kahlo headbands and sugar skull face painting. And how about those good looking smiles?

So, thank you all for your interest and support. Thank you for permitting me to follow my bliss.

10.13
2014

Hunting for Treasures in Mexico

Posted by Anne Damon in Mexico Trips, Zinnia Folk Arts News   /   2 COMMENTS

As many of you know, there are lots of artesanias in Mexico. Artesania is not exactly the same as folk art or "arte popular," although the two terms do get confused. I think of artesania as the little doo-dads (sometimes made in China) one finds in the souvenir shops  (like the photo above) and arte popular comes artists or artisans and a long tradition of handmade regional arts. One of my jobs when I go shopping in Mexico is to hunt for the unusual, the well made, the quirky but cool objects that make up Zinnia's  little part of the Mexican folk art world.

The above photo is a shot taken at the Mercado in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco. I love to check out the markets in every town I visit for that little unexpected something that will delight our customers in Minneapolis and beyond. But looking at this photo you can see that it's a little like finding a needle in a haystack!

I did find a few things here but then moved on to the real winners in another town, Tonala. Some of Mexico's best ceramicists hail from Tonala. Here's the front of the home of the Ortega family, one of the most well-known...

I visited 5 ceramic artists' workshops yesterday in Tonala and spent a little time at the giant Mercado that happens every Thursday and Sunday. Again, there is a lot of junk but the occasional diamond. Patience and a keen eye are essential in this business!

 

09.19
2014

Reference & Inspirational Books about Mexican Folk Art

Posted by Anne Damon in Resources, Zinnia Folk Arts News   /   LEAVE A COMMENT

I am always learning about Mexican folk art and love to do it in different ways--traveling, talking to artisans, Pinterest, Los Amigos del Arte Popular, internet sites and blogs but I always fall back on my library of books. Some of these books are classics for the Mexican folk art aficionado and others are just great eye candy. I like to use them for reference and for inspiration.

 

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09.13
2014

How I Live With Mexican Folk Art

Zinnia’s Anne Damon brings her Worldview to an American Classic

Stylemaker: Zinnia Folk Arts' Anne Damon
Photo by Photo by Alex Steinberg
ZINNIA FOLK ARTS

 

Stylemaker: Anne Damon

What are your favorite places to shop in the Twin Cities?
Arc’s Value Village, Guild Collective, Hunt & Gather

Aside from Mexico, what other countries interest you?
I’m currently obsessed with Australia—there’s so much cool, creative stuff going on there!

Which local artists do you love?
I love Minnesota landscape artists, especially Fred Anderson, Tom Maakestad, Carl Oltvedt, and my brother, Paul Damon.


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07.17
2014

Folk Art Buying Trip in Mexico

Posted by Anne Damon in Mexico Trips, Zinnia Folk Arts News   /   LEAVE A COMMENT

I'm off to Mexico to starting buying for the holidays! This trip will take me to Mexico City, Taxco, Michoacán and Guadalajara. Lots of destinations in a fairly short amount of time so visualize me scurrying between artists' workshops, homes, mercados, riding buses, taxis and subways and carrying lots of packages! I hope to write some posts and post photos to Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram as I go, but I never know what the internet connectivity will be. Adios for now!

Day of the Dead Skeleton

04.10
2014

How Did You Start Selling Mexican Folk Art?

Posted by Anne Damon in Zinnia Folk Arts News   /   2 COMMENTS
Folk Art Shopkeeper in Taxco, Mexico
The most frequent question I'm asked is, "What got you started selling Mexican folk art?" 
It all started when I was in high school and lived in Toluca, Mexico with a Mexican family for the summer. I attended summer school to learn Spanish. I loved it. My Spanish improved but mostly I loved the culture of life, color, living out loud, eating scrambled eggs with chorizo at 10pm with my Mexican sister, walking to school with my friend through the cobblestone streets with dogs and boys yipping at us, going to the amazing Toluca mercado, and translating Creedence Clearwater Revival (yuk) lyrics for my younger Mexican brother. It was such a different world view from my little high school life in my little town in Wisconsin and I have never forgotten the lesson I learned then, that there is a big world out there that doesn't see life exactly the same way we do in the United States.
My first Mexican folk art purchases at age 16 were a woven colorful market basket, a tree of life (which I know now was from Izucar de Matamoros), some inexpensive filagree earrings and some tire-soled huaraches. I was the only one in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin who wore huaraches. The migrant workers in Fox Lake did, but not anglo high school girls.

I went on to study Spanish through high school and college. I eventually moved to Tucson, Arizona to be a public health nurse and worked with Mexican-Americans in South Tucson for three years. I visited Nogales almost every weekend and if not there, then drove farther south to Hermosillo or Guaymas on a fairly regular basis. My Spanish improved and my love affair with all things Mexican grew, always collecting unique and colorful pieces wherever I went.  When I returned to the Midwest I brought with me my great love of Mexico and it's beautiful approach to life--food, color, joy, whimsy, faith, family and amazing traditional arts.

When I left the Southwest, I reduced my frequent visits to Mexico but for many years I would travel to Mexico for a vacation from the bitter Minnesota winters to various locations including Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa, Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, San Miguel de Allende, and Acapulco. About that time I frequented a small shop in St. Paul called "The Old Mexico Shop" on Grand Avenue owned by Billie Young and Mary Wilson. I remember thinking that I'd like to do what they were doing. They drove a station wagon to Mexico five times per year and went town to town hunting for Mexican folk art. Billie eventually wrote a wonderfully descriptive book about the experience called Mexican Odyssey. Many of their experiences are now my experiences because things have not changed in some ways in Mexico since those days of the early 80's.
I have done lots of interesting things professionally--public health nursing, refugee resettlement, health and human services administration. I've also raised two wonderful boys who are now almost launched. I have also collected lots of beautiful pieces of folk art from all over the world. I explored the world of museums when I got a Master's in Arts Administration and worked at the Science Museum of Minnesota with their Mexican folk art collection. So, my wish to display the folk art in a way that it can really be seen and enjoyed for its beauty and creativity was influenced by lots of "looking and seeing" through my whole life--looking at photos, museums, galleries, museum shops, home design and curated collections everywhere. I've tried to combine all of those experiences in a way that makes Zinnia Folk Arts truly a one of a kind shop in the United States. And quite a few people have told me that it is that. So that makes me happy.
About 8 years ago, I decided with the support of my wonderful husband, to pursue my dream of traveling around a country I love and respect so much, to look for beautifully made and unique pieces of folk art of all different kinds of media. I've been lucky to have a friend and neighbor, Connie, who helped me immensely when I started--coming with me while I learned how to do it all in a foreign country and in a new small business. I've had lots of support from many friends, family and volunteers in and out of the shop and through my learning experiences at GUILD Collective. I now have two wonderful employees, Leslie and Paulette, and a super great friend, Marla, who fills in for me whenever needed.
So, that's what happened.
05.21
2013

Flowers, flowers everywhere...

Posted by Anne Damon in Flowers, Paper Folk Art, Zinnia Folk Arts News   /   LEAVE A COMMENT
"So, why did you name the store, Zinnia Folk Arts?" Did you know that zinnias are a flower native to Mexico? Zinnias come in lots of different colors and shapes and sizes just like Mexican folk art. I love the image of the zinnia and the possibilities for design and branding. They are annuals in Minnesota (maybe they are everywhere?) and we celebrated our first anniversary by handing out packs of zinnia seeds.  We also are sending them to people who purchase something from the online shop through the month of May to celebrate our one year at 50th and Bryant in Minneapolis!

Zinnia Folk Arts Seeds

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06.07
2012

Using Enchilada Cans as a Vase in the Mexican Folk Art Shop

Posted by Anne Damon in Flowers, Zinnia Folk Arts News   /   LEAVE A COMMENT
El Pato as a Vase
El Pato Enchilada Can as Vase

One of my very sweet friends gave me a bouquet once per week for a month to celebrate the opening of the new shop at 50th & Bryant in Minneapolis. When she asked me if I had any Mexican vases to use for rotating the bouquets every week, I thought of the colorful red and yellow cans used by El Pato to can their tomato and enchilada sauces. Most Mexican grocery stores carry them...you can make one of these colorful bouquets to add a little Mexico to your summer life!

Viva la Vida...

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