Maestros de Plata
William Spratling and Mexico's Silver Renaissance

Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles California
June 20-September 14, 2003

preview by Fred Krieger

A major traveling exhibit "Maestros de Plata: William Spratling and the Mexican Silver Renaissance" opens in mid-June 2003 at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles. Having originated at the San Antonio Museum of Art, the show consists of over 400 magnificent objects, including jewelry, hollowware, flatware, and other decorative objects, many of them one-of-a-kind or never previously published.

William Spratling double bamboo necklace and bracelet
silver with obsidian cones

Dr. Penny C. Morrill, art historian and author, was the curator for  "Maestros de Plata."  She wrote part of the accompanying large-format catalogue, published by Harry N. Abrams. Both the hard and soft cover catalogues contain a dozen essays and more than 400 color photographs.

The exhibit's focus is metaphorically on the mind, the hand, and the heart: the designer creates with his imagination; the silversmith produces the object; and the workshop provides the supportive community in which this creative activity can take place. The objects are the end products of a series of creative events which brought great opportunity to those involved and a grand variety of design to Mexican silver from the late 1920s to the present.


Antonio Castillo as a young man
working at repousse.


An example is Los Castillo, a workshop founded by several brothers and cousins who were silversmiths in William Spratling's original workshop, the Taller de las Delicias. Often employing more than 100 artisans, Los Castillo produced 500 new designs in 1950 alone!

William Spratling  Monkey Pin
(based on pre-Columbian clay stamps)

The Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum has added pre- Columbian clay figures and other objects to the exhibition.  These are some of the influences, along with colonial objects of ethnographic designs, which are often seen in Spratling's pieces.

The exhibit's themes are provided in text panels and a video, both of which are in Spanish and English.

Visitors will encounter numerous vintage photographs, including those of such luminaries as Frida Kahlo, Miguel and Rosa Covarrubias, and others who wore and used in their homes the beautiful silver produced by the great Mexican designers.

Programs are being planned which will touch on a variety of related subjects of interest to many audiences. The Museum Shop will carry works by a number of the dynamic young contemporary artists and designers whose works are on display in the exhibition.

The Craft and Folk Art Museum is located in the mid-Wilshire area, opposite the La Brea Tar Pits, at 5814 Wilshire Boulevard and is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 to 5 PM.

William Spratling North Star Necklace
silver & abalone

William Spratling Serpent Box
silver & tortoise shell

William Spratling Guitar Pin
silver & amethyst

The Museum Shop will be featuring a large display of Mexican crafts and objects including both old and new Mexican Silver jewelry. 

The shop is open from 11 to 5 every day except Monday and can be reached by telephone at 323 857 4677.

William Spratling Modern Bowl
silver & wood

For information regarding the lecture series, tours and events, please call Janet or Carmen at the Museum (323) 937 4230.

Craft and Folk Art Museum
5814 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036

June 20-September 14, 2003
For information, please call 323 937 4230   
Museum Hours: 11AM-5 PM    Wednesday through Sunday

City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department    

Stella and Fred Krieger have been long time collectors of Mexican silver. They have been surprised, excited and delighted to discover many other devoted collectors who share their passion.

Stella is the Shop Manager of the Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum, which caries one-of-kind collector pieces, including old Mexican Silver and ethnographic artifacts from all over the world.  Fred is a retired physician who has been an Independent curatorial consultant for the Museum and serves on the National Advisory Council for the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C.

Visitors to Los Angeles can reach the Kriegers at and they will be happy to assist them in coming to see the exhibition.


Preview by Fred Krieger
Photographs courtesy of  Phyllis Goddard of,
and collections of  Jill Crawford by Patrick Kapty
Web design by Marbeth Schon
 Copyright   Modern Silver magazine 2003

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