Memories of Casa de Campo: Artistry and Craftsmanship in Altos de Chavon

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In this week’s ‘Memories of Casa de Campo’ post Carol Burke, our weekly writer reminds us of  the incredible beauty of Altos de Chavón – with it’s nooks and crannies, artistic creations and impressive architecture.


The greatness of a craft consists firstly in how it brings comradeship to people.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupery (French Pilot, author of The Little Prince) 1900-1944

Altos de Chavon itself is a great work of Dominican craftsmanship. The stone masons of the Dominican Republic outdid themselves building this village. Most of the buildings and the amphitheater are made from stone. There are stone walls with patterns and figures inlaid in them, and a stone patterned pavement. There are obelisks and terraces of stone, and a 350-step stone stairway down to the River Chavon.

In the late 1980s Altos de Chavon not only had a world-renowned School of Design, but there were also Dominican artisans in a workshop making items for sale to benefit the Altos foundation.

The Altos artisans produced their creations hidden away from public view in several workshops in Altos. Sometimes when the doors or windows were open one could catch a glimpse of them making pottery, turning wood items, weaving rugs, or silk-screening T-shirts.

Door to an Artisan Workshop in Altos
01 Door to an Artisan Workshop in Altos

The T-shirts made in Altos de Chavon were either to celebrate an event, such as the Heineken Jazz Festival,

Heineken Jazz Festival T-shirt
02 Heineken Jazz Fest T-shirt

or to celebrate a designer’s view of Altos. There is the vision of Altos de Chavon perched on the back of a giant black cat,

Altos de Chavon As A Cat
03 Altos as a Cat T- shirt

and a minimalist viewpoint of Altos as an “A” shaped patchwork color field with a long green lizard climbing up.

The Tall “A” with an Altos Lizard
04 Tall

Altos artisans created a variety of ceramic sugar bowls, lidded cookie jars, bread bowls, and decorative ceramics. All of the Altos ceramic work had an edgy quality about it which distinguished it as coming from Altos de Chavon.

Cookie Jar with High Contrast Triangle Design
05 Cookie Jar with High Contrast Triangle Design

The glazes on the ceramics ranged from highly detailed geometric designs to sensuous strokes of color.

Sugar Bowl with Waves of Blue
06 Sugar Bowl with Waves of Blue

Some of the glazes were allusions to the pottery from an archeological dig. They were natural earth colors and seemed to have emerged from the ground.

Charcoal and earth tone Bowl with Leaf Design
07 Charcoal and earth tone Bowl with Leaf Design

Some of the earthenware jars were lidded with the “Diablo” head of Dominican Folklore.

Diablo Earthenware Jar
08 Diablo Earthenware Jar

The artisans of Altos made beautiful turned wood bowls too. Their skill at woodcraft was amazing.

Wooden Jar with Lid
09 Wooden Jar with Lid

Their work ranged from stonemasonry to stoneware, and from woodworking to the textile arts of weaving and macramé.

Crafts from Altos de Chavon
10  Crafts from Altos de Chavon

These crafts of Altos help keep the memories of Altos alive through the years.

Crafts from Altos de Chavon
11  Crafts from Altos de Chavon  2

Many thanks to Carol Burke for another wonderful article! If anyone would like to view Carol’s photos in higher resolution or download them, you can do some by visiting her flickr account here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dandelion-tree/collections/72157624697056850/

Also below are links to all of Carol’s previous articles!

Memories of Casa de Campo: The Children of Casa – part 1
Memories of Casa de Campo: Children in Casa – Part Two
Memories of Casa de Campo: Dueños 1991-Polo
Memories of Casa de Campo: The Casa Coast

Memories of Casa de Campo: Sweet Things in Casa
Memories of Casa de Campo: Afternoon Appetizers
Memories of Casa de Campo: The Casa Coast
Memories of Casa de Campo: Donkey Polo As It Was Then
Memories of Casa de Campo: An Afternoon at Caña Bar
Memories of Casa de Campo: Summer Reflections
Memories of Casa de Campo: Exploring the Batey in the Year of the Oxen-1997
Memories of Casa de Campo: The Fiestas of Altos de Chavon
Memories of Casa de Campo: The Friday Market in La Romana
Memories of Casa de Campo: A Visit to Boca Chavon Village with a View to Casa de Campo
Memories of Casa de Campo: Walking to Boca Chavon, Where the River Meets the Sea.
Memories of Casa de Campo: The Casa de Campo Cookbook
Memories of Casa de Campo: Altos Every Moment
Memories of Casa de Campo:The Trees Where I Lived
Memories of Casa de Campo: The Skies of Casa de Campo
Memories of Casa de Campo: Sports and Activities
Memories of Casa de Campo: From Café El Patio to Altos de Chavon After the Hurricane
Memories of Casa de Campo: Before and After Hurricane Georges
Memories of Casa de Campo: Surveying the Damage After Hurricane Georges
Memories of Casa de Campo: Café del Sol, a Leafy Retreat from the Day
Memories of Casa de Campo: Walking on the Wild Side of Casa de Campo – From Altos with Love
Memories of Casa de Campo: Trees, Flowers and Gardens – From Heavenly to Humble
Memories of Casa de Campo: around La Romana with the in-laws
Memories of Casa de Campo: remembering La Romana
Memories of Casa de Campo – A Roadside Attraction on the Way to La Romana
Memories of Casa de Campo: the magic of Christmas time!
Memories of Casa: Casa Kids on the Beach at Dueños ‘91
Memories of Casa de Campo – The Dancing Dueños
Memories of Casa de Campo: “Miss, Mrs. & Mr. Dueños ‘91″
Memories of Casa de Campo – Art Exhibits in the Altos de Chavon Art Gallery
Memories of Casa de Campo: Polo Season
Memories of Casa de Campo: ‘Villa Visions’ Magazine
Memories of Casa de Campo: Altos de Chavon is a Work of Art
Memories of Casa de Campo – the Altos de Chavon amphitheater
Memories of Casa de Campo: The Magic of Altos de Chavon
Memories of Casa de Campo: Walking Daisy Dandelion on the Teeth of the Dog
Memories of Casa de Campo: Hello, my name is Carol
Memories of Casa de Campo: Punta Aguila airport