|For those who appreciate popular art, the Father Cícero Craft Artists Association in Juazeiro do Norte (CE), is paradise on earth. Part of the Master Noza Centre for Popular Culture , it features a patio packed full of pieces that compete for space in the main hall and the hallway. Craft artists work there daily, and every piece is for sale, except the ones in the permanent collection. There are works by Nino and Cícero Araújo (who died early in an accident). Many well known artists used to work there and now, after retiring, work from home. People such as Manuel Graciano who says his eyesight is getting weak, and Zulmira, fragile and tired from the struggle to earn a living from sculpting wood. There are also works by the Cândido sisters, Ciça and many others.
The younger craft artists use the collection as inspiration, often reinterpreting the work of the masters. Some feel the pressure of the market, which cruelly dictates what sells and what doesn’t, ignoring feelings and sentiments. There are baroque saints everywhere. Also popular are the legendary bandits Lampião and Maria Bonita, countryside dwellers and Father Cícero, side by side with pregmant women and images of the Holy Ghost as a dove. Among so much skill and technique a few talents will certainly stand out. Created in 1985, the Association has been managed for the last 20 years by Maria de Lourdes Batista, an artist of the local cuisine, and one of its main patrons is the printmaker Abrahão Batista. They are good news for the Father Cícero Association. It takes a lot of love for popular art to take on a challenge such as this.