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A Cocho Nativity

Tom and I had taken a ferry from Buenos Aires in 2012 to visit Colonia, Uruguay’s first capitol.  Wandering through the old section of town, we came across an inviting gallery; and inside we spotted a brown leather sculpture about 12” high.  It was a Holy Family, gaucho style, with flowing robes on the two adult figures and exquisitely detailed faces on Mary and the infant Jesus.  I had never seen anything like it before (or since).  We bought it! 

Neil Allen webmaster for FOTC recently asked me when our interest in creches became a collection.  This was the moment:  unexpectedly finding a religious-themed figure in a shop in Uruguay.  We had a small number of creches at home, mostly passed on from my parents, plus a few sets representing other cultures.  This sculpture was really the first time I was so attracted by the sheer beauty of the artist’s creation as well as by its spiritual and cultural expression. 

The salesperson had told us the artist was highly respected in Uruguay, but I forgot his name. 

Just recently I finally pursued a search online.  Our treasure was created by Luis Alberto Gutierrez, a leather artisan in Montevideo.  In 2008 he received an award of excellence from UNESCO for his series of “Nuestros Quijotes,” gauchos.

  He has since won additional UNESCO and international craft fair awards.  What a lucky day for us to find our gaucho family, and it wasn’t even near Christmas!  

Now we let the collector gene loose as we search for creches on our travels.

Carol Hull - Lake Oswego,

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