Luis Feliz © 1978
Las Pozas, Xilitla was the creation of Edward James, the eccentric English poet and artist, and patron of the Surrealist movement. Its origins date back to 1947 when Edward, living in semi exile in Mexico, acquired the coffee plantation near Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, - now known as Las Pozas - registering it in the name of his friend and guide Plutarco Gastelum, who would later become the foreman and overseer of all construction there. For the next ten years Edward used “Las Pozas” to plant orchids and as a home for exotic animals. After a unprecedented frost in 1962 destroyed many of the orchids, Edward started building the extraordinary sculpture garden we see today. The design of "Las Pozas" was inspired both by his orchids and the vegetation of the Huastecan jungle combined with architectural elements taken from the Surrealist movement he was so closely involved with.
In the 1960s and 1970s Edward dedicated more and more resources to his "Surrealist Xanadu", spending millions of dollars and employing hundreds of masons, artisans, and local craftsmen. By the time James died in 1984, he had built 36 surrealist inspired concrete sculptures, spread out over more than 20 acres of lush tropical jungle. Over time "Las Pozas" become known to artists, writers, travelers and photographers interested in James and the Surreal movement. After Edward James died, the Gastelum family took over the running of "Las Pozas".
In 2007 "Fondo Xilitla" acquired Las Pozas, with the purpose of conserving the magnificent sculptures of Edward James and to protect the surrounding land and gardens. "Fondo Xilitla" was created by the Pedro and Elena Hernández Foundation, (www.pedroyelena.org) one of Mexico's best known and most active charitable organizations, with support from the government of San Luis Potosi and CEMEX, the worldwide cement and infrastructure company. Fondo Xilitla is a non-profit charity in Mexico and is establishing charitable (501c3) status in the United States.
Fondo Xilitla took administrative control of Las Pozas in January 2008. The local on-site director is Juan Manuel Fraustro who for more than ten years was the delegate of Mexico's INAH (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia) for the state of San Luis Potosi.
The administrative director is Ernesto Gomez, an accountant with many years of experience in the non-profit sector. Fondo Xilitla is currently working on a master plan to establish priorities in the conservation of the more vulnerable structures, and to ensure that visitors and tourists enjoy a quality cultural experience.
We welcome ideas and feedback as we prepare the next steps
Advisors to Fondo Xilitla include prominent figures from the world of art, philanthropy, ecology, and architecture both in Mexico and in the U.S - please see contacts for the full list of board members. Pedro y Elena Hernandez Foundation is represented via its chair Roberto Hernandez and Barbara Hernandez. The government of San Luis Potosi is represented via Roberto Vazquez, secretary of culture; Patricia Veliz, secretary of tourism, and Ysabel Galan, of the Museo Cossio and CEMEX is represented by Jose Juan Flores. Representatives of the Edward James Foundation sit on Fondo Xilitla's board and are working on ways of collaborating more closely.
The chairman is Damian Fraser of UBS Investment Bank, and legal secretary Roberto Cossio.