Maestro Dobel® Tequila Appoints Alejandra Martinez to Unveil a New Platform for Mexican Culture

The Creative Director talks about her passion for contemporary art and the ideas behind Maestro Dobel Artpothecary

BY Lucy Foster AND Alejandra Martínez in Collaborations , Videos | 05 MAY 21
Join Frieze Become a member to watch this video and gain unlimited access to

Lucy Foster How did your passion for contemporary art develop?

Alejandra Martinez My first real encounter with the art world was at an art fair: Art Basel Miami. I was an exchange student at the University of Miami at the time, and the art world seemed like the perfect example of everything we were studying: a world of its own, with its own rules. As well as being full of beauty, shapes and color, the art world had all these different languages that communicated so many intricacies in very vibrant ways. It just lit up my life.

LF When did you turn to the contemporary art of your homeland, Mexico?

AM When I graduated, I started a little publishing house in Guadalajara and we won a bid to make the official magazine for all the Mexican embassies around the world. Doing this immersed me in the Mexican cultural scene – which had been there forever, of course, but was really bubbling up at that time, with fairs like Zona MACO in Mexico City creating a focus. This led me to start a cultural festival, Arte Careyes, in a coastal town where I’d been going since childhood. An international community spent lots of time there, but they were really only exposed to the stereotypes of mariachis and artesanias; I wanted them to see the dynamism of contemporary Mexican creativity. A lot of artists that started out exhibiting with us are huge names today. There were no rules, so we were writing them together.

LF Anónimo Colectivo grew from that?

AM It was very organic, yes. At the first Arte Careyes we sold pieces by contemporary Mexican artists like Jorge Méndez Blake, Jose Dávila, and Gabriel Rico –they were just emerging, so their prices were quite accessible. Friends were buying out of pure enthusiasm for the work, and as a way of supporting the community the festival represented. That felt invigorating. I wanted to create an experimental project that would conjure similar conditions and a similar feeling – of people supporting art because they loved it, that was all. But it needed to be riskier. From that, the idea of Anónimo arose: an auction of works where all the artists were anonymous.

LF Going against that philosophy of buying art as an investment: were there some raised eyebrows?

AM Absolutely. We launched in Miami in 2015. We had this fantastic venue but it was far from the action in South Beach; and, on the day of the event, it rained cats and dogs. I thought not even my mother was going to make it! But we had a full house and sold out everything. The energy was electrifying. I thought it was going to be a one-time thing, but we got a lot of attention and participation from inter - national, as well as our core, audiences.

Alejandra Martínez. Illustration by Ruby Sgueglia
Alejandra Martínez. Illustration by Ruby Sgueglia

LF So, Anónimo became a platform presenting Mexican art internationally?

AM Like Arte Cayeres, it was a kind of cultural diplomacy for Mexico on a global stage. As we continued, we held editions not just in Miami but back in Mexico, at Mexico City’s Museo Rufino Tamayo, and in Oaxaca; that was an opportunity to celebrate the textile craftsmanship there, the skilled backbone of Mexican art and culture, and it was one of the most soulful weeks ever. Then we got invited to go to Marfa, and that’s when I realized I wanted to start a different sort of experience. For Marfa, we worked with Design Hotels and also with Maestro Dobel Tequila and encouraged 200 people to leave their comfort zone and cross the border in their cars – there were definitely no private jets on this trip – then drive through the desert. On the trip out, I was saying to our guests: ‘Wait for it. This is a pilgrimage. Don’t speak for a while; pray, go find an alien.’ Marfa is real Stanley Kubrick territory to me. Our guests and the artists we showed felt transformed by the experience of the landscape.

LF Has Maestro Dobel always understood your experimental projects?

AM Maestro Dobel have been really supportive of Anónimo. For me, they’ve always been champions of innovation and creatives who are pushing their industries forward, though everything emanates from this vital heritage of craftsmanship and tradition. Not just the brand, but the whole family. Juan Dobel, the founder of Maestro Dobel, is an 11th-generation tequila maker, a great craftsman and innovator: he actually created the cristalino category, which is ground-breaking for tequila. I’m from Jalisco, so I take tequila very seriously! My grandfather used to prescribe it for anything. If your heart is broken, if you have a problem with your throat, with your stomach, with your business, he’ll say: ‘Have a tequila!’

LF How did the Maestro Dobel Artpothecary concept, for which you’re Creative Director, come about?

AM Like art, tequila is a precious Mexican export. I was in touch with Maestro Dobel when they were thinking about ways of bringing color and celebration back into our lives, as the world has changed shape this past year. On some level, that’s really what Artpothecary is about. At Frieze New York, we present our first Artpothecary experience, ‘The Fruit Chemist’. Our inspiration is the botica, a pre-pharmaceutical store that used to be found all over Mexico, where the owner would make his own chochos, natural tinctures. These boticas are really enduring pockets of our native culture. In came Bompas & Parr, who are specialists at creating very visceral culinary experiences, and the concept of the ‘Fruit Chemist’ was born: it’s kind of a botica gone contemporary, fruity and wild! To compliment these funky experiments with tequila and mixology, I am bringing in works by Eduardo Sarabia and Orly Anan, two Mexican artists who engage with color and texture to bring to life this platform. It’s about experiencing the art and hospitality of Mexico in a contemporary way through the senses. This year especially, this explosion of life feels so needed.

Visit Maestro Dobel Artpothecary’s ‘The Fruit Chemist’, featuring fruit paired tequila tastings, on the 8th Floor of the Shed, every day of Frieze New York 2021, from May 5-9,


Main image: Orly Anan x Maestro Dobel Tequila

Lucy Foster is a writer based in Nayarit, Mexico. She is currently researching a PhD on national identity and the representation of coastal Mexico.

Alejandra Martínez is the Founder of Anónimo Colectivo and Creative Director of Maestro Dobel Artpothecary, based in Mexico City, Mexico.