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Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

I’ve been in el norte for a month and loving spending time with family and friends, but now dreaming Oaxaca dreams.

From the mural, painted in 1980 by Arturo García Bustos, depicting the history of Oaxaca in Oaxaca’s Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace).

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As previously mentioned, I am currently in el norte.  Visiting my family and friends has taken me from Oaxaca to New York, across the country to California, followed by Colorado, and then back to California.  I have been on multiple airplanes, traversed through multiple airports, and been complimented multiple times on my earrings.  We are not talking gold or silver filigree, we are talking about earrings made from jícara — the fruit of the Crescentia cujete (aka, Calabash tree).  [Click on images to enlarge.]

 

 

Earrings are not the only things made from the dried fruit of these humble trees that grow in less-than-ideal environments.  The Tacuate women of Santa María Zacatepec (Oaxaca) use them as hats.

The gourds are cut in half, washed, and with seeds removed, set out in the sun.  Once dry, throughout southern Mexico, they frequently are lacquered, decoratively painted, and used as cups for tejate and other traditional beverages.

 

 

As youi can see, in Villa de Zaachila, in the valley of Oaxaca, this use is even celebrated in a Día de Muertos mural.

Larger jícaras, known as jicalpextles, are a specialty of Chiapa de Corzo (Chiapas).  However, they have assumed a special role in the Zapotec village of Teotitlán del Valle (Oaxaca), where they are filled with handmade sugar flowers and carried during weddings, religious celebrations, and other important fiestas.

 

 

And, recently there was an exhibition of carved jícaras by Salomón Huerta and José Cruz Sánchez from Pinotepa de Don Luis (Oaxaca) at the Museo Estatal de Arte Popular Oaxaca (MEAPO).  At last, the talent of the artisans who create these pieces is being given the recognition it deserves and their creations are being appreciated as works of art.

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So, hurray for the not-so-humble jícara and the ingenuity and creativity of the indigenous peoples of the world whose traditions teach them to honor and not waste the gifts of planet earth.

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I’m visiting family and friends in el norte and trying not to get caught up in the constant barrage of ignorant, disgraceful, and infuriating news coming out of Washington D.C.  However, sometimes it can’t be ignored.

This is all I have to say…

(If you don’t know and can’t figure out what “pendejo” translates to in English, click HERE.)

Another mural by Lapiztola on the side of the Palenque Mal de Amor outside Santiago Matatlán.

 

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From the land of Zaachila yoo (house of Zaachila)…

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Villa de Zaachila pride in black and white by YNKL/Sanez.

 

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Within a few blocks from home…

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Miscellaneous messaging brought to you by the streets of Oaxaca.

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May 18 is Día Internacional de los Museos (International Museum Day).  Instituted in 1977 by the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the goal is to raise awareness of the role museums play in “cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.”  Traditionally, the primary mission of museums has been collecting, conservation, communication, research, and exhibition.  However, according to the ICOM:

Museums have transformed their practices to remain closer to the communities they serve. Today they look for innovative ways to tackle contemporary social issues and conflict. By acting locally, museums can also advocate and mitigate global problems, striving to meet the challenges of today’s society proactively. As institutions at the heart of society, museums have the power to establish dialogue between cultures, to build bridges for a peaceful world and to define a sustainable future.

The museums of Oaxaca seem to have embraced this expanding and dynamic role — exemplified by this past winter’s exhibition at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, Intervención Índigo, created by Laura Anderson Barbata, in collaboration with The Brooklyn Jumbies, Chris Walker, and Jarana Beat.

Performance and textiles meld the Zancudos (stilt walkers) of Zaachila, Oaxaca with the Afromexicano devil dance of Guerrero, the color indigo (a natural dye important to indigenous cultures in both Mexico and Africa), batik and beading techniques of Africa, with political commentary about the realpolitik of the African diaspora in North America.

Indigo is one of the oldest natural plant based dyes, used all over the world and ritually embedded with symbolism and spirituality; power and nobility…. Barbata employs textiles hand woven and dyed in Burkina Faso,Guatemala and the United States. The color historically represents absolute truth, wisdom, justice, and responsibility.

So, get thee to a museum near you — you will, no doubt, be enriched, enlightened, and maybe even empowered.

 

 

 

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On the way Mercado Sanchez Pascuas to restock the larder, for the past several months, this colorful scene has greeted me at the entrance to Callejon Hidalgo.

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“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.” — Anais Nin

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Dorothy and Pedro spotted on Calle Murguia, Oaxaca.

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Another mashup by Efedefroy.

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Since I went to the market today and we are on the topic of murals in Oaxaca…    

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The Calle Porfirio Díaz entrance to my “go to” Mercado Sánchez Pascuas has undergone a make-over to commemorate the 487th anniversary of the elevation of Oaxaca de Juárez to the status of city.

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On April 25 (Oaxaca’s official birthday) city officials, market Board of Directors, and the artists gathered for the mural’s inauguration and ceremonial ribbon cutting.

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Javier Santos, professor of sculpture at the Taller de Artes Plásticas Rufino Tamayo, explained that the mural represents a collection of symbolic images, contextualizing life in the city and market.  How many of these symbols (many Prehispanic) do you recognize?

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Javier Santos continued, “It is important that there is availability and openness on the part of the Municipal Government to bring people the great talent of Oaxacan artists through the exhibition of works in public spaces, because in them people have the opportunity to visualize the graphic quality of our state.” (Google translation)

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Here is to the artists!  May the magic of their creativity continue to illuminate the past, find truth in the present, and inspire the future. 

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And, let us hope the city of Oaxaca will see more mural construction and less mural destruction.

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Even if you’re dreaming of sitting on a beach with a book and glass of wine in hand, there are reminders that one hundred years ago, on April 10, 1919, Mexican revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata was assassinated.

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In southern Mexico, in the words of Lila Downs, Zapata Se Queda (Zapata Stays) and remains a beloved martyr who continues to inspire.

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And, to remind all to never forget, and continue the struggle.  The cry of “not one more” echos from the streets.

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Mural on the wall of Taller-Galeria Siqueiros on Calle Porfirio Díaz.

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If one lives in Oaxaca long enough, the probability is high that you have purchased at least one piece of barro rojo pottery from the women of San Marcos Tlapazola.  Goodness knows, I have over the years — lunch plates, pitchers and urns, small decorative dishes for salsa, and, of course, a comal.  Alas, it’s hard to resist just another piece or two and so blogger buddy Chris (whose collection of barro rojo FAR exceeds mine) and I headed to San Marcos (44 km southeast of the city) last Sunday for the second day of their Esplendor Del Barro Rojo fair.

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Oh, the pottery!

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Women of San Marcos Tlapazola.

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Red clay pottery and performance watchers.

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Divinely light and flavorful higadito.

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The temptation of red clay pottery.

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The dignity and pride of an accomplished artisan (and fashionista).

It was a feast of pottery, food, music, dance, textiles, and warm and welcoming people.  What more could anyone want on a Sunday afternoon?  And, yes, I did buy a piece or two.

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Today, the sixth Friday of Lent, Oaxaca honors la Virgen de Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows).  Altars dedicated to her can be found in churches, businesses, and homes.  While the altars vary in their presentation, there are several key features (besides an image of the Virgin and candles) that will be found.

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Altar to la Virgen de Dolores at Templo del Carmen Alto

Wreaths of cucharilla (aka, Dasylirion, Sotol, desert spoon) — grown in Villa de Etla and the Mixtec region of Oaxaca — represent the crown of thorns of Jesus.

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Salvia Hispanica (aka, chia) sprouting from terracotta clay animals decorate altars — seeds which had been blessed on February 2, Día de la Candelaria (Candlemas).  According to an article in MexConnect, “Growing greens remind the viewer of the resurrection and renewal of life.”  Yes, these are the original Chia Pets!

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Ceramic deer covered in chia sprouts on the altar at Templo del Carmen Alto

Bowls of water (often tinted) representing the “sweet tears of Mary” are set among violet colored drapes and flowers — violet being the color associated with Lent.

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Altar to la Virgen de Dolores at Huizache, a cooperative store selling Oaxacan crafts and clothing

Lilies, representing purity and chamomile, representing humility and the beauty of body and soul, can be found on altars.

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Lilies and chamomile on the altar at Templo del Carmen Alto

According to this article (in Spanish), altars to Our Lady of Sorrows started appearing in Oaxaca in the sixteenth century and her veneration on the sixth Friday of Lent grew from there.

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La Virgen de Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows) at Templo del Carmen Alto

Tonight at Templo del Carmen Alto, there will be a reading of the “Vía Dolorosa” (Way of Sorrows), a concert of sacred music by the Coro de la Ciudad (City Chorus), and a tasting of regional Lenten food.  Such is the beginning of Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Oaxaca!

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There is magic on the walls of Oaxaca.

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You  never know what you will see when you take another route home.

 

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Even leftover decorations from a Día de la Samaritana agua station in front of an abandoned building are beautiful in their own way.

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Seen on García Vigil at the corner of Jesús Carranza.

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If you are in Oaxaca and it’s the fourth Friday of Lent, it must be Día de la Samaritana, an “only in Oaxaca” celebration.  This Day of the Good Samaritan was inspired by the Gospel of John story in the New Testament where a tired and thirsty Jesus, on his way to Galilee, asks a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well in Sychar for some water.

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Decorating a well outside the Cathedral

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Sign proclaiming the day, seen on the Alcalá

His request was highly unusual because, according to the Old Testament, “Jews regarded the Samaritans as foreigners and their attitude was often hostile.”  The woman complied with his request and the rest is history.

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Scene at the well outside Templo de San José

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Live actors waiting to reenact the scene

Celebrating the Good Samaritan in Oaxaca began in the atriums of churches at the end of the 19th century and is a popular and much-loved tradition.  Thus I joined thousands of Oaxaqueños and visitors, clutching cups, and wandering from one decorated agua station to another sampling their offerings.

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Samaritana station serving nieve at the Municipal Palace

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One of scores of agua stations on the Alcalá

People of all ages, from small children to grandparents, lined up at bougainvillea and palm decorated booths in front of churches, restaurants, businesses, schools, and even the city’s municipal office building for the traditional Día de la Samaritana free aguas.

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Hand painted ollas in front of Templo de Sangre de Cristo

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Hand painted jicara gourds waiting to be filled with tejate

These “water stations” are often decorated in a violet shade of purple, the color of Lent, symbolizing penance and royalty.  And, the ollas (pots) holding the aguas seem to get more decorative every year.

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Agua stations along the Alcalá

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Watermelon and mint agua station on García Vigil

We are not talking plain water, these are divinely flavored aguas frescas made with fresh fruits, herbs, flowers, and more — jamaica (hibiscus), horchata, chilacayote (squash), tamarindo, sandia (watermelon), tejate, and nieve (sorbet).  Even taxi drivers played the role of Good Samaritans.

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Nieve station in doorway of lingerie store on Independencia

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Taxi drivers host agua station on the Alameda

In previous years, the aftermath hath wrought mountains of garbage — cans overflowing with plastic and styrofoam.  However, this year, in the name of the environment, an appeal was made for people to bring their own cups.  And, I think a majority complied!

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On the Alcalá above Santo Domingo

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An olla with Agua de chilacayote (type of squash)

And me?  After almost two hours, three aguas (watermelon with mint, cucumber with mint, and chilacayote), a nieve of leche quemada and tuna, and being surrounded by smiling people enjoying this celebration of generosity, I returned home with my heart full of love and gratitude for the traditions of Oaxaca.

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