Ernie’s interest in Mexico came about when British friends invited him and his wife Barbara to spend a week with them in San Miguel de Allende. The climate, the beauty of that Spanish provincial town, the food, and the scenery all appealed greatly. They stayed in a large, beautiful, colonial, richly decorated house. When Ernie and Barbara’s friends moved to an old exterior, modern interior house, their folk art collection, mainly works from Michoacan, with some from Oaxaca as well, caught his attention.
The next spring the Kafkas decided to go to Oaxaca, with its fine museums, excellent food, and charming small and grand hotels, surrounded by the two Sierra ranges, pre-Columbian sites, and by villages widely known for their crafts. Arden Rothstein’s book, together with her local friend and driver, Tino, showed them around. They bought a bunch, met artisans, and became expert at shipping methods. There were several return trips, lots of reading, a bit of study of Spanish and greater acquaintance with area. The preservation of art and artisanal work and historical sites is important, but to Ernie, Oaxacan crafts people have a way of life that should also be supported, especially with the difficulties posed by economic and social-political change. Despite such obstacles, there remain families for whom the preservation of their crafts is important. Hence, Ernie’s interest in FOFA.