Photo by Elise Urrutia
Arriving in San Antonio, Texas in 1914, Dr. Aureliano Urrutia rapidly established himself as one of finest medical physicians in the city. His legacy, however, is not limited to the medical profession. By all accounts, Dr. Urrutia was San Antonio’s first major importer of Mexican ceramic products, which included colorful tile, plates and vases. Few tourists and shoppers visited Mexico before the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Travel to and from Mexico, especially the interior regions of Mexico, was difficult throughout the 19th century. Before the construction of the railways and highways from San Antonio to Mexico, few Americans dared to transport the fragile ceramic products to the United States.
Over three decades–1920 to 1950– Dr. Urrutia sought out Mexican ceramic products, especially tile that he used for his new home and clinic as well as his large Miraflores garden grounds. It is rumored that Dr. Urrutia shipped two railroad freight cars of Mexican treasures to San Antonio following his exile from Mexico.
Dr. Urrutia likely bought much of his ceramic material and artisan products in the state of Guanajuato. Dating back to the 16th century, artisan from the Guanajuato had excelled in the production of ceramic products. While experts have yet to study all of the tile, plates and vases of Miraflores, it is likely they will find a significant number from the towns of Guanajuato, Guanajuato and Dolores Hidalgo, two of the more famous ceramic producers. Dr. Urrutia died in 1975, but his legacy in the world of Mexican folk art and ceramic tile lives on.
“In my opinion, Dr. Urrutia was not an “importer of ceramic products.” Rather, he was a man whose art collection included ceramic works in his home, and whose avocation as a landscape artist led him to to commission and create magnificent objects in his garden, including an impressive group created from his collection of Talavera. As I have shared in several lectures, this type of expression was previously unprecedented in San Antonio. My upcoming book is entitled Miraflores, a Mexcian Garden of Memory, Jardín Mexicano de la Memoria. It will publish soon, and it will cover Miraflores in-depth along with other stories about the garden, the Doctor and others who contributed to the life of the garden, and the meaning of the garden’s design, which carries a message of love for Mexico. For those who want to know more, I blog at www.quintaurrutia.com, and previously authored an extensive article on this topic in the Rivard Report, https://therivardreport.com/miraflores-dr-urrutias-lost-garden/.” – Elise Urrutia