Texas Highways, Volume 51 Number 10, October 2004 Page: 62
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FUN FINDS ALONG THE ROAD
C a ..
BY KATHRYN JONES
U STROLL INTO the sunny courtyard of the historic Menger
I Hotel, next to the Alamo in downtown San Antonio, and
you'll likely be drawn to the colorful fountain where water
trickles below a vivid wall panel of more than 70 ceramic
tiles. They paint an intriguing picture: A woman in a long
dress and white headdress clutches a bunch of calla lilies as
a handsome young man kneels at her feet and offers more
flowers. A snow-capped mountain looms in the distance.
The scene, rendered in brilliant hues of
orange, green, cobalt blue, and yellow, is
set in Mexico. But the mural was designed
and produced not south of the border, but
in San Antonio at Mission San Jos6.
Tiles made at the mission and at two
associated potteries-now collectively
known as San Jos6 tile-were made from
the 1920s to the 1970s under the direc-
tion of Ethel Wilson Harris, a champion
of the ceramic arts and a former presi-
dent of the San Antonio Conservation
Society. Today, collectors around the
world prize the Mexican-themed tile and
the pottery that emerged from her kilns.
The bold designs vary: Some outline
scenes in black, then use glazes to give
them dimension, while others have
pooled glazes within raised lines. Major
themes include Western subjects such as
cowboys, horses, and buffalo; Mexican
scenes and landscapes; animals; and
Fall is Fabulous at the Wildflower renter
*Bring in this ad for $1 Off one adult admission
See the second bloom season and attend the annual
Fall Plant Sale and Gardening Festival on October 9 & 10
[ImInmingbirds: Jewels in the Sky art exhibit
Tuesday, September 28 - Sunday, October 31
"Offer expires November 30, 2004
1985 Robert A. Tyrrell
4801 La Crosse Avenue * Austin, Texas 78739
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r =- 1Treat a friend-or treat yourself-
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A tile mural made at Mission San Jose in thy
1940s decorates the courtyard of San Antonio's
marine motifs that depict the Gulf Coast.
Texans can view the art at a number
of public sites. Since Ethel, who was
known as Miz Harrie, lived and worked
in San Antonio, you'll find plenty of
examples in the Alamo City. You can
also see an installation at the Hall of
State at Dallas' Fair Park. But the tile and
its rich history have remained largely
unknown to many Texans.
"For many years, hardly anyone knew
there were art potteries in Texas," says
Susan Toomey Frost, an Austin collector
who is working on a book about San
Jos6 ceramics and Miz Harrie's legacy.
Miz Harrie, who frequently traveled
to remote villages in Mexico to visit ar-
tisans and collect their work, founded a
downtown pottery called Mexican Arts
and Crafts, which produced Spanish Co-
lonial-style handicrafts from 1929 to
1939. She was also president in the mid-
'30s of San Jose Potteries, which operated
next to Mission San Jos6. In the late 1930s,
she also served as the technical supervisor
for Works Projects Administration (WPA)
62 TEXAS HIGHWAYS October 2004
SAN JOSE CERAMICS
A Creative Mission
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Texas. Department of Transportation. Texas Highways, Volume 51 Number 10, October 2004, periodical, Date Unknown; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth839147/m1/68/: accessed April 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.