This museum is named after its owner Dolores Olmedo Patiño, an art collector and close friend of the painter Diego Rivera (she modeled for some of his paintings). Most of her collection is in this museum. The museum is dedicated to the painters Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo with several of their paintings (137 by Rivera and 15 by Kahlo), and also has about 3,000 pieces of popular art, pre-Hispanic art, sculptures, engravings and more. Although it was closed indefinitely at the beginning of the year for financial reasons.
I was in a friend’s house when I met him some months ago. I didn’t expect this to happen. I have been various times in my friend’s house but he never talked to me about Maximon.
My friend invited me to his home one Saturday to eat and after we ate, the strange encounter took place. I remember that we were at his studio; I was sitting in his desk because he wanted to show me various photographs about his trips to Guatemala. We are both anthropologists, although we have different specializations, I am ethnologist while he is physical anthropologist. He traveled to Guatemala various times regarding his research interest for the thesis he made about enforced disappearances, but he never mentioned Maximon in all the time we have known each other, until that day.
After watching and discussing his photographs about various archeological sites, he took a bulge out from the closet; I was wondering what was that, when he started to unwrap it, first from a Guatemalan style stitched fabric, then from a second black fabric, and when it was completely unwrapped, my friend extended to me what was inside. It was Maximon! I wasn’t sure about holding him, I just felt kind of afraid. Afraid of what? Let me explain you.
Maximon is a deity, but his appearance was unexplainable for me at the time my friend gave it to me. As an anthropologist I am interested in religion, and I have fieldwork research experience with varied religious groups, so I have known diverse religion worldviews and also deities that at first were unfamiliar to me, but after research they became very well known and also cherished. Maximon’s form, that was made of unpainted wood, was intriguing for me, and maybe more than afraid I wasn’t sure of the unknown, of the unfamiliar form that by the moment my friend offered me to hold, but also the respect of holding a sacred form made me hesitate for a second, and then hold him as if he could melt in my hands.
What is behind the form of Maximon? My friend started to ask me what was I noticing about the form he gave me, and while I was holding Maximon with both hands and examining the sculpture, I told him that it seemed to me that his legs were too short. I noticed too that Maximon had a hat, a cigar in his mouth and his pants were bulged. The reason of this bulged pants -my friend told me- is in the story of Maximon.
Do you want to know him? Read my future post about his story. I will post a photo too.