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ASU Art Museum Presents Cecere Collection

Pays Tribute to Life Experience in Latin American Cultures, Demystifies Art Collecting

Anonymous, Mexico
Ex-voto (border crossing)
Painted tin
11 1/14; x 15 1/12;”
Gift of Peter P. Cecere
Photo courtesy of Daniel Swadener

Photo courtesy of Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

July 03, 2007

TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona State University (ASU) Art Museum announces the opening of Everyday Miracles: Latin American Folk Art from the Cecere Collection, July 14, 2007 through Jan. 5, 2008.

Peter P. Cecere collected more than 12,000 pieces of folk and ethnographic art over a period of more than 25 years in the Foreign Service with the United States Information Agency in Spain, Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia and Uruguay. Cecere’s collection reflects his passion for the people of Latin America and the objects they create. In 2005, Cecere donated nearly 1,000 pieces from his collection to the ASU Art Museum. TheEveryday Miracles: Latin American Folk Art from the Cecere Collection displays a selection from this collection that reflects the interweaving of the indigenous traditions of Latin America with the influence from outside sources.

The Latin American region was home to many native peoples including the AztecsInca and Maya, before the arrival of Europeans in the late15th century, and colonized, primarily by Spain and Portugal, and, to a lesser extent, by France. The art of the region is influenced by many diverse cultures. “My collection of Latin American and Spanish folk art displays the fusion of differing beliefs. It embodies the non-verbal expressions of the common person’s material culture, unites diverse cultures, and stresses the commonality of human feelings and life experiences,” states Cecere. “Unlike collecting stamps where the contents of the collection are predetermined, I’ve collected these pieces because I like them and essentially the art speaks to me and grabs me.”

To celebrate Cecere’s generous gift, the ASU Art Museum will mount approximately 70 pieces from Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela, Paraguay, El Salvador, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. Marilyn Zeitlin, director and chief curator of the ASU Art Museum adds, “This exhibition examines the interaction between secular and sacred – specifically the complex interplay between the realm of the ordinary and the realm of the divine in Latin America.”

Everyday Miracles: Latin American Folk Art from the Cecere Collection exhibition related events, which are free to the public, include:

  • Gallery talk with guest curator Joanne Stuhr:
    Friday, September 7, 2007, 12 noon
  • Reception at which Pete Cecere will be present:
    Friday, November 16, 2007, 7-9 p.m.
  • Brunch conversation:
    Saturday, November 17, 2007 9:30-11 a.m. 
    Over coffee and Danish, Pete Cecere, guest curator Joanne Stuhr and Museum director Marilyn A. Zeitlin will meet with visitors to discuss contemporary impacts on Latin American Folk Art.

“Art collecting to me is far more emotional than intellectual; it’s about the passion that the art communicates when someone’s spirit is transcended through a painting, a carved piece of wood or even an intricately designed spoon. When something tickles your soul, you want to share it; you want someone else to look at it – even a stranger – this is the essence of the human spirit. It’s our born fruition to design the necessary elements of life – this is art,” says Cecere. “Even years ago with the practicality of recording history by drawing a buffalo on a rock, for example, the ‘artist’ was sharing their interpretations, feelings and reflections. There should not be fear in art collecting, just passion for sharing feelings that are evoked by the artist through the artwork.”

Peter P. Cecere lives at the foot of the Shenandoah Mountains, in the woods of western Virginia, in a pumpkin-colored, barn-shaped house he designed for himself and his significant collection of folk art, most of it from Latin America and Spain.

The ASU Art Museum, named “the single most impressive venue for contemporary art in Arizona” by Art in America, is part of the Herberger College of the Arts at Arizona State University. The museum is located on the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and 10th Street in Tempe and entry is free. Hours are 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and until 9 p.m. Tuesdays during the academic year, and Sunday 1-5 p.m. For more information, call 480-965-2787 or visit the museum online at

Media Contact:
Nancy Scott Lyon
Elevate Marketing + Public Relations
480-947-4300 x204