Saints and Sinners Find a Stop on Heritage Oak Cliff Home Tour

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One glance around Dale Dietert and Hank Hammett’s sitting room at 616 Blaylock Drive reveals a gem of a Mexican art collection. (Photos: Courtesy of Heritage Oak Cliff) 

Dale Dietert and Hank Hammett’s home at 616 Blaylock Drive oozes with undeniable Bohemian charm. The warm and welcoming kitchen plays the perfect backdrop to the couple’s frequent house parties. The chairs in each room tell a story of their own. But this stop on the Heritage Oak Cliff Home Tour delights with an enthusiastically curated Mexican art collection. One glance at the colorful art and antiquities tells you you’ve stumbled on something special. Even better, the homeowners love to talk about it.

Dietert and Hammett generously provided us with some snapshots and descriptions of some of their beloved pieces. If you’re coming along on the home tour, why not make a game of it?  Join us after the jump for a game of art-and-seek.

Art Happens

From years of collecting together, the couple’s art collection comes, in large part, from Mexico.

“We sort of stumbled into it,” Dietert said. “Years ago we bought our first pieces in the little markets there [in Nuevo Laredo.] And then Hank started collecting retablos, too, which are painting on tin. So we just stumbled into it. We’ve been together for a long time.”

When asked if their collection takes careful planning, Dietert was quick to confess that kismet plays a larger roll. “It just happens! We went to a wedding in Santa Fe and ate brunch at a place that was sort of off the beaten path. We looked up and there was a shop that sold Mexican art pieces. So we went in and found these 12 pieces we came home with. It was one of those things. We just let it happen.”

Saints and Sinners

A collection of Madonnas crowd one of the home’s mantles, the work of well-known folk artist Josefina Aguilar. But then, juxtaposed among the religious iconography you find, shall we say, more worldly pieces. It’s no wonder that the couple describes themselves as the ‘saints and sinners’ type.

Dietert laughs as he described the ‘puta’ dolls they have collected. “They’re prostitute dolls,” he said with a chuckle.

Saints: Madonnas and other religious figures by Josefina Aguilar, a Mexican folk artist from Ocotlán de Morelos, Oaxaca. Best known for her small clay figurines called muñecas (dolls), Aguilar uses red clay to create depictions of everyday village activities, religious and folkloric scenes, famous figures, and special Day of the Dead statues. Collectors of her work include Nelson Rockefeller, who discovered her work on a trip to Oaxaca in 1975, as well as repeat visitors to Oaxaca who come to see her latest work. Aguilar says each figurine she makes is unique. She became blind in 2014 and now uses touch to create her art. One of her major collectors quoted her as saying “It’s not the eyes. It’s the hand and the brain.”
Sinners: Mexican Paper Mache “Puta” dolls were put in the windows to advertise “Ladies of Entertainment.” If a man cheated on his wife, he might come home to a puta doll in his bed and no wife! At Easter time, small ones would be made for little girls to play with. Whatever their purpose, they are one of the delights of Mexico. They have brightly painted clothing – filled with decorations and glittery sparkles. Their arms and legs are articulated – put on with heavy cord, and they can be posed in many ways. She is a “muñeca de carton” – a doll made of paper.

Eye Spy

To see this amazing collection in person, join us on the Heritage Oak Cliff Home Tour on October 19 and 20. See if you can’t spot each of these pieces below! For more information and teasers on other magnificent homes on this tour, hop on over here,  or simply click here to purchase your tickets.

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Heather Hunter

In addition to a 15-year career in marketing and communications, Heather is an accomplished freelance writer and has contributed to The New York Times’ “Modern Love” column and “The United States of Dating” on National Public Radio. Her blog, This Fish Needs a Bicycle, was syndicated by NBC Universal (iVillage) for four years. As a ghostwriter, her work has appeared in publications such as WIRED and Stadia Magazine

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