Paloma Pilar Grasso's dream has been a reality for 10 years.
Grasso opened Galeria Quetzal 10 years ago after retiring from teaching. The local gallery specializes in handmade art from countries like Colombia, Peru, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Mexico.
Grasso has traveled all over the world to find each item displayed and sold in her store at 12400 Mayfield Rd. in Little Italy. Her most frequent travel stops are in Peru, Guatemala and Mexico.
“Going to these countries, you never know what you’re going to find," Grasso said. "But I find something new every time."
Through her travels, Grasso has developed deep connections to the people she meets and the things she buys.
Last spring, she traveled to Mexico where she met people called the Huichol who sold hand-carved wooden and clay figures decorated in hundreds of colored beads. The Huichol live in a dry mountainous region and cannot grow many crops so they sell artwork to get by.
Grasso bought several of the beaded figures and some thread pictures that are now displayed in her shop.
“I handpick everything as if I’m picking them for myself,” Grasso said. “Sometimes it’s hard to part with items I’ve picked.”
Her fascination with Latin artwork started in 1963 when she joined the Peace Corps and went to Colombia. During that time she also became fluent in Spanish and later went on to teach it for 13 years at schools in Cleveland Heights.
For more information about Galeria Quetzal, check out www.galeriaquetzal.com or find the gallery on Facebook. The Cleveland Museum of Art is holding its "Land of Color: Latin American Textiles" exhibit, which runs through March 16. The various textile art works in the exhibit were done by artists from 16 countries and fit seamlessly into the theme of Galeria Quetzal