Jose Benitez Sanchez

Kevin July 5th, 2009

It is with great saddness that I have to inform you all that on July 01, 2009 at 9;40am Jose Benitez Sanchez suffered a massive coronary and left us.  He was undoubtably the best recognized Huichol artist.  I don’t think that there is a museum or institution the world over that has done an exhibition of Huichol art without at least one of his pieces.  Most recently the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology put on an exhibition of Benitez yarn paintings and published a book called ‘Visions of a Huichol Shaman’.  The book and exhibition were curated by Peter Furst undoubtably one of the most eminant Huichol scholars.

Artes de Mexico edition no.75 titled Arte Huichol featured many of Benitez yarn paintings and had an indepth interview with the artist.  It was just last month that Margarita de Orellana the director of Artes de Mexico contacted me looking for Benitez.  They are planning to do an exhibition of his work in October at the University of Kobe in Japan.
Benitez as a boy was being trained by his father to become a shaman.  An ardorous path that he left as his success in art began to grow.  As a boy he had a job sweeping floors in the offices of the INI in Tepic.  Benitez graduated from sweeping floors to buying artifacts that the Huichol would bring in like woven bags and small yarn paintings.  Eventually, the director Salomon Nahmad asked if he could do yarn paintings like the other Huichol were bringing in to sell.  It was there at the INI that Benitez met Juan Negrin a Harvard graduate student who began promoting his work in the US.  Together they would transcribe in great detail the visions that Benitez had put into his work, their meaning and greater significance.  Benitez never turned his back on his culture and eventually returned and finished his path to shamanism.  In 2000, Jose Benitez Sanchez was awarded the National Award for Science and Arts.
Benitez was at Peyote People back in March signing books and explaining the meanings behind his art to a small but loyal group of collectors.  He was an eloquente man who, even though Spanish was his second language, he could describe things with infinite detail.  To this day I cringe when people ask me to translate the writting on the back of Benitez paintings.  For one thing its not easy to think like a shaman, they speak metaphorically and tend to jump from past, present, and future with no regard to our linear way of thinking.  But more than that, I’m affraid of not being able to capture the spirit that each and every piece that Benitez did had.
Gracias, Kevin

Jose Benitez Sanchez and Kevin in Peyote People

Jose Benitez explaining his art

the late Jose Benitez Sanchez

  • Comments(3)

3 Responses to “Jose Benitez Sanchez”

  1. David Branscombon 25 Aug 2009 at 12:52 am

    Dear Kevin,
    Laura and I are sad to learn of the passing of this great artist and wonderful man, Jose Benitez Sanchez. We only met him on one occasion in your shop, but treasure the pieces we obtained of his through your shop and friendship. His life lives on through his art and we are pleased to acknowledge his artistry and vision by displaying his artwork in our home. Benitez was delivering one of the pieces we purchased while the other 2 pieces were in your back room. It was our good fortune to be there when he arrived. He kindly stood with me by each of the string paintings for photos which I have mounted in a multi-photo frame that I keep with the artists paintings. The world has lost a great artist and a wonderful human being. You have lost a friend, and I am sad for us all. We will be in Puerto Vallarta again in December, so of course will come by to see you. David & Laura

  2. Frankon 22 Oct 2009 at 1:19 pm

    My wife and I travel every year to Puerto Vallarta MX; this is where we were first intruduced to Jose Benitez Sanchez and his beautiful work. We own two beautiful Yarn Arts by him and they display proudly in our home. We were back to MX last week and heard of his passing. The world truely lost a great artisit.

  3. J.E. Thompsonon 09 Aug 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Hello to you all, I have recently acquired a Jose B. Sanchez work of art. I purchased it at a street Art fair. I live in California. The lady i purchased it from, had no knowledge of the artist or where it came from originally. I would love some more information on this artist and I can email a photo of this piece if necessary. It has hand written text on the back of it, it is in Spanish and I can not translate. It is very intriguing and I would love to talk to someone for more information on this inspiring artist. Thank you kindly,

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