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We Travel to Oaxaca for the Premier Anonymous Art Auction

Kristie Ramirez | October 3, 2019 | Lifestyle National

The Oaxacan sunset set the scene for an intimate dinner celebrating nonprofit contemporary auction Anónimo, which included this installation by Sabino Guisu.

On a Thursday night in March, dozens of art patrons drove to the outskirts of Oaxaca, Mexico, for an auction. A former lime factory had been converted into a vibrant party scene. Guests were greeted by 10-foot papier-mache figures, mariachis and dancers in traditional Mexican dress. Glasses of Mezcal Amores and Veuve Clicquot were raised as the wealthy international crowd made its way inside the candlelit venue. A DJ danced as he played high-energy music; passels of marigolds decorated the bars, floors and walls; and the crowd was dressed in caftans, boots and turquoise. The vibe was Mad Max meets ancient Mayan. Twenty-five pieces of art, all in a textile medium as a nod to the craft’s deep Oaxacan roots, decorated the space. As with most auctions, each piece had an information card, but there was one thing missing: the artist’s name. “The less you know, the purer your experience is,” explains Alejandra Martínez, the auction’s managing director.

An international set of art patrons toured the all-textile catalogue, featuring anonymous pieces by Marco Querin (left) and Aldo Chaparro (right).

Welcome to Anónimo, an exciting art-filled event during which the artists’ identities aren’t revealed until the auctioneer’s hammer comes down and the buyer becomes the official new owner. “I wanted to create a space where the whole point was that you could feel free to not know about art,” Martínez adds. Anónimo (“anonymous,” in English) is her passion project, and the auction in Oaxaca was the sixth of its kind. Others have taken place in Miami, Mexico City and Los Angeles. As a nonprofit with social responsibility, each auction directly benefits a local charity. The Oaxaca edition raised $90,000 for Don Remigio Mestas, a local textile curator dedicated to protecting and preserving the local indigenous weaving tradition.

Travelers sipped on crisp Mezcal Amores at the dinner.

Born in San Diego, raised in Guadalajara and educated at the University of Miami, Martínez possesses a globe-trotting, effusive air much like that of her guests: They speak multiple languages, love art and are open to rich cultural experiences, which is an extension of what Anónimo offers. The Oaxaca auction—sandwiched between a welcome party and a desert dinner under the stars in partnership with Mezcal Amores—was rife with moments that thoughtfully enveloped the guests into the local culture. “We want soulful content,” Martínez declares. “We don’t want to be cookie-cutter.” The next version, the Botanical Edition, will take place in the botanical gardens of Mexico City in October.

Photography by: bottle and desert art photos by Maniel Zuniga | textile art photo courtesy of AnÓnimo