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Archive for the ‘Museums’ Category

Since its creation in 1958, the Baile Flor de Piña (aka, the Pineapple Dance) has been bringing audiences to their feet at the Guelaguetza every July.  The energy and choreography is a cross between the Rockettes and Busby Berkeley, but the costumes are pure Oaxaca — the Mazateca and Chinanteca huipiles are a showcase of color, design, weaving, and embroidery from the Papaloapan region.

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Flor de Piña, La Guelaguetza – July 2015

The Mazatec and Chinantec peoples are 2 of the 16 indigenous groups living in the state of Oaxaca.  For those who are as captivated by their textiles as I am, the Museo Estatal de Arte Popular Oaxaca (MEAPO) in San Bartolo Coyotepec currently has a fabulous exhibition, La Piel de Mi Raza, which features more than 55 Chinanteco and Mazateco textiles from the Papaloapan — some over 200 years old.

Mazateca huipiles are recognized by their hand-embroidered bird and flower motifs.

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Mazateca huipiles

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“Everyday” Mazateca huipil from San Miguel Soyaltepec

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“Dressy” Mazateca huipil from San Felipe Jalapa de Díaz

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“Everyday” Mazateca huipil from San Miguel Soyaltepec

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Antique Mazateca huipil from San Pedro Ixcatlán

The Chinanteca huipiles are woven on backstrap looms with the bird, tree, Quetzalcoatl, and geometric designs embroidered or brocade woven into the piece.

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Chinanteca huipiles

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“Dressy” Chinanteca huipil from San Juan Bautista Valle Nacional

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Antique Chinanteca huipil from San Felipe Usila

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“Dressy” Chinanteca huipil from San Felipe Usila

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Antique Chinanteca huipil from San Felipe Usila

The exhibition is located in the upstairs gallery of MEAPO and runs until November 10, 2017.  By the way, if you haven’t been to the Museo recently, you are in for a surprise — the first floor has been divided into several galleries, allowing for multiple exhibits and providing for a more intimate experience.

And, for the fascinating and controversial background of the Flor de Piña, read Stephanie Schneiderman’s article, Baile Flor de Piña & Guelaguetza: Cultural Preservation.

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Recently, as previously mentioned, a friend came to visit for a week.  It was B’s first time in Oaxaca and we packed a lot of sightseeing and delicious dining into just six days.  B is an architect and, among other things, is an archeology buff, so those interests helped shape our itinerary (as in, not a shopping expedition).  Naturally, the six days sailed by, but the sailing was so smooth and flowed so well that it occurred to me a blog post chronicling our adventures might be helpful to future visitors and hosts.

B arrived on a Monday night, so Day 1 began the next morning, when we rendezvoused on my terrace so he could begin to get his bearings as I pointed out landmarks.  Our first stop was to gaze at the gold and gilt interior and up at the impressive family tree that decorates much of the ceiling of Santo Domingo de Guzmán.

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Santo Domingo de Guzmán and its former monastery.

After being thoroughly wowed, we went next door to the former monastery, now the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca.  Arranged in historical epochs, the 20+ rooms are an historical treasure trove that include treasures excavated from Tomb 7 at Monte Albán.  Also on the extensive grounds is the glorious Jardín Etnobotánico, an impressive ethnobotanic garden of plants native to the state of Oaxaca.  While we had no time to take a tour of the garden (the only way to visit), the views from the museum are spectacular.

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Looking down on the Jardín Etnobotánico from the Museo de las Cultures de Oaxaca

Leaving the museum, we strolled down Oaxaca’s walking street, Macedonio Alcalá (aka, Andador Turistico), across the zocaló, past the Palacio de Gobierno, to the Mercado Benito Juárez.  Besides the fact that I was almost out of coffee beans and needed stop by El Grano de Oro to replenish my supply, in my humble opinion, the mercado is a “must see” for any visitor.  Feeling a bit parched and ready for a break, we pulled up stools at Casilda Aguas Regionales and had to choose from their dazzling selection of fresh aguas. Refreshed, we resumed exploring the aisles of fruits and vegetables, fish and meats, clothing and jewelry, fresh flowers and souvenirs, mezcal and quesillo, and more.

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Aguas lined up on the counter of Casilda Aguas Regionales

Hungry, tired, and on sensory overload, we walked back up the Alcalá to the tranquility, innovative architectural design, and savory flavors of Los Danzantes — the complementary mezcalito was an added bonus!  Our late afternoon comida was a leisurely affair, as we reviewed the day and made plans for the next.  B worried that we might be lingering too long, but I assured him, unlike the USA, restaurants in Mexico don’t rush diners.

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Retractable ceiling and modern take on adobe walls at Oaxaca’s Los Danzantes restaurant

It was a lovely and delicious way to end the day.  Stay tuned for Day 2, as we headed out of the city….

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Slowly the cars began to move.  Slowly they climbed the steep hill.  As they climbed, each little steam engine began to sing:  “I-think-I-can!  I-think-I-can!  I-think-I-can!  I-think-I-can!  I-think-I-can!  I-think-I-can!  I think I can – I think I can – I think I can I think I can–”  (The Little Engine That Could)

In this case, the little engines that could are Volkswagen Beetles, known in Mexico as vochos.  These indomitable VW Bugs are ubiquitous on the streets of Oaxaca — in a rainbow of colors and in every stage of repair and disrepair imaginable.

Fuschia vocho parked on street

They can even be spotted traveling along the walls…

“Vocho art” isn’t limited to murals on street corners.  Check out this Huichol beadwork “Vochol” I saw on exhibit at the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City last October.  It is the work of Francisco Bautista, Kena Bautista, Roberto Bautista, Diego Díaz González, Emilio González Carrillo, Víctor González Carrillo, Alvaro Ortiz, and Herminio Ramírez.

And, that isn’t all…  Mexican artist, Héctor Garnelo Navarro has covered a 1994 VW Beetle  with “19,800 semi-precious stones (e.g., obsidian, jade) that form images of pyramids, animals, ancient deities (Quetzalcóatl [Feathered Serpent, Creator God] and the Mictlantecuhtli [God of the Underworld]).”  It is known as the Vocho Teotihuacano (Teotihuacán Beetle) and according to this article, he is finishing a Vocho Maya and is considering a Vocho Alebrije — the latter inspired by the wood carvers and painters of Oaxaca.  So, keep your eyes open!

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Ahhh… a return visit to Centro de las Artes de San Agustín in early December still resonates.  The CASA, a former spinning and weaving factory, was re-imagined by artist Francisco Toledo and architect Claudina Morales Lopez.  Now it is one of the most aesthetically pleasing spaces I’ve ever experienced.  But, why have I never before noticied this?

Inside and outside, seen in black and white or color, wherever one looks, the attention to detail and design strikes, delights, and often surprises.

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As with all of life, there are changes going on in Teotitlán del Valle.  A large new Cultural Center is nearing completion.  It’s courtesy of the federal government and, according to the sign at the construction site, not a peso is coming from the state or village.  From what I’ve been told, it will house the museum, a library, and a performance space.

And, with their final Danza de la Pluma performance on Día de Guadalupe (Dec. 12), the three-year commitment of the last Danzantes de Promesa group was at close.  The new group has already begun the demanding work of learning the steps of the 40+ dances that make up the Danza de la Pluma.

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Under the watchful eye of El Picacho, Moctezuma, Malinche, Doña Marina, Teotitles, Capitánes, Reyes, and Vasallos practice from 7:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Saturday through Monday to be ready for their debut the first Wednesday in July 2016 during the festival of the Preciosa Sangre de Cristo.  A major and meaningful commitment, it is.

Strange fascination, fascinating me
Changes are taking the pace
I’m going through

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes

Changes by David Bowie (descansa en paz)

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She’s gone…

P1090814_copyAs feared, by order of the government, the beautiful and moving mural by Lapiztola, on the side of Museo Belber Jimenez, has been erased.

P1140922copyOnly her ghost remains.

P1140920 copyI miss her, too.  Color and culture, indeed, seem to be unwelcome.

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Yesterday, we returned to Teotitlán del Valle for the convite in honor of La Santísima Virgen María de la Natividad (the Sainted Virgin Mary of the Nativity).  Alas, from our point of view, the gods were not cooperating and it threatened to rain on the parade.  The sky surrounding the Templo de la Preciosa Sangre de Jesucristo was getting grayer and darker by the minute and professional and amateur photographers alike were challenged to some up with good shots.

Bell towerThe lovely and accomplished photographer, Luvia Lazo was going to march in the procession this time, but couldn’t resist pulling out her cell phone for a shot or two.  By the way, I recently learned that the earrings she is wearing are traditional and unique to Oaxaca and the design is known as, gusano (worm)!Luvia LazoSome of the Danzantes also whipped out their phones for some photos.  Their 3-year commitment ends in December and I suspect most want to savor these last performances.

P1130823And, then there was the daughter of friends and budding photographer, 12-year old Beatriz Ruiz.  Here she is setting up a shot.

P1130788Doesn’t she look professional?  She’s been traveling from Teoti into the city to take classes at the Centro Fotográfico Manuel Álvarez Bravo for almost two years.  A photograph she took of her two kittens is currently part of a student exhibition at the museum and is included in the slideshow of photos on their website.  Blogger buddy Chris, who has known her since she was very young, has a very sweet blog post about Beatriz and her interest in photography.

Plastic covered canastasGiven the state of the corn crop, due to lack of rain during this rainy season, there have probably been many offerings and much praying to the gods Cocijo (lightning and rain) and Pitao Cozobi (maiz).  They won the day and the rains did come.  And we, being fair-weather fans, departed.  However, according to one of the Teotitlán del Valle Facebook sites, the show did go on!  We are returning today for the Danza de la Pluma and tonight’s fuegos artificiales (fireworks) and castillo.  Needless to say, we are keeping our fingers crossed!

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I walk past the Museo Belber Jimenez at least every other day and its brilliant blue walls always make me smile.  If you’re in the neighborhood, you can’t miss it!  In mid April, not long after undergoing a major renovation, a city bus lost control and crashed into the museum.  Fortunately no one was seriously injured, but the window, grating, and wall on the Tinoco y Palacio side of the museum were damaged.

By the time I left in mid May for the trip north, all had been repaired.  And then a few days before returning to Oaxaca, blog reader BJ wrote to tell me there was a “beautiful new mural” on the west wall of the museum.  She was right — it’s stunning and deeply moving.

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P1090808Muchisimas gracias to Museo Belber Jimenez for inviting Lapiztola to enhance the exterior of the museum and our lives with the beautiful mural and its message from Beti Cariño.

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The previously mentioned Tlacolulokos collective has brought their artistry and social commentary to a wall on the upper floor of the Casa de la Ciudad.  The mural, “Con el fuego en las manos” shows two young women, almost mirror images of each other or, perhaps, two sides of the same woman.

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The young women/woman wear the traditional clothing of San Bartolome Quialana, a village near Tlacolula de Matamoros, home of the Tlacolulokos collective.  Like communities throughout Oaxaca, much of the male population has migrated to the United States, in search of work leaving the women to carry on alone.

As the introduction to the exhibit on the Casa de la Ciudad website explains, With a critical view towards the current cultural context, Tlacolulokos group, headed by Darío Canul and Cosijoesa Cernas, seeks to question the idealized images of the Oaxacan culture, tourism product discourse, and insights from the reality currently experienced by the people of Oaxaca.

There are elements in her clothing belonging to the Latina culture of the southern United States, as the cholo bandana that she wears on her head, or the tattoos on her arms that add a critical and provocative tinge to this cultural mix, a product of migration.  [ Google translation, with a little help from yours truly]

One of the trademarks of  the Tlacolulokos group is the power their images acquire and the emotion they elicit by limiting the palette to black, white, and grays.  For more background and a better understanding of the mural, a video (en español) of the artists discussing their work can be found here.

“Con el fuego en las manos”  is scheduled to run until December 2015 at the Casa de la Ciudad (Porfirio Diaz No. 115, at the corner of Morelos in Oaxaca’s Historic District).  Hours are 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Monday through Sunday.

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Oaxaca is one of the most child friendly places you will ever visit.  Kids are welcome most everywhere — it’s part of the culture — and there is much for them to see and do, including El Quinto Sol, an archaeological museum for children.P1020037

I’ve been meaning to write about this colorful, yet hidden, gem since a friend and I discovered it in 2008 on an early Sunday morning ramble.  It was closed for remodeling, but we managed to peek in and vowed to return.

Of course, we didn’t write down the address or name, all I remembered was that it was somewhere south of the zócalo.  It took several expeditions once I moved to Oaxaca, before I found El Quinto Sol again.

According to the museum’s brochure, this delightful and educational museum was the brainchild of Oaxaqueño, Manuel Ramirez Salvador and first opened March 19, 2000 in order to teach, preserve, and appreciate the “great heritage bequeathed by our Mesoamerican ancestors.”

Not only a museum, there is also a fabulous “old school” toy store, El Cri-Cri, named for the “grillito cantor” (the singing cricket), a character created by the beloved Francisco Gabilondo Soler.  There are no plastic, battery-powered games and toys in sight and I guarantee those “of a certain age” will be reminiscing and exclaiming, “Ooh, I used to have one of these!” and “Ahh, I always wanted one of those!”

By all means, pay El Quinto Sol a visit — even if unaccompanied by a child.

Address:  Xicotencatl No. 706 (at the corner of La Noria)
Telephone:  951.514.3579
Hours:  Monday through Friday,  9:00 AM – 2:00 PM and 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Saturday, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM.  Closed on Sunday

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Last Monday, as I previously wrote, my bus ride home was rudely interrupted by a bloqueo (blockade).  Initially, this is how I felt…

Skeleton in robes painted on wall

Without any other options, I found myself walking along Calzada Madero.

Spider painted on railroad car

and found murals painted on old railroad cars…

Cat face painted on railroad car

in the yard of the old railroad station, now the Museo del Ferrocarril Mexicano del Sur.

3 creature faces big teeth painted on railroad car

By the time another bus finally came by, I felt much more like this…

Tranquil female face painted on side of building

Sighhh…  good ol’ Oaxaca, you just never know what you will stumble upon.

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Four days of non-stop sights, sounds, and adventures in Mexico City with my BFF is coming to a close.  So much to do and see, there’s been no time for blogging.  However, all my bags are packed and I have a few minutes…

Today, L and I ventured out to the Museo Dolores Olmedo in Xochimilco, at the southern end of Mexico City.  The museum houses her extraordinary collection of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s work (25 of her pieces and 145 of his), 6000 pre-Hispanic figurines and sculptures, exquisite Chinese ivory, porcelain, cloisonné and lacquer, along with other works of art and artesania.  The gardens of this former 16th century hacienda are beautifully landscaped and provide a tranquil escape from the big city.  And, they are home to a muster of peacocks.  I have no idea how many, but they seemed to be everywhere.

And that’s not all.  A pack of Xoloitzcuintles (Mexican hairless dogs) also reside on the grounds, seeming to “pose” for visitors; they especially like the Xolo sculpture in their part of the garden.  As anyone who has seen the dogs depicted in pre-Columbian figurines can see, their origins date long before the Spanish ever knew of the Americas. 

Museo Dolores Olmedo isn’t easy to get to — it took several metro lines, a train, and a bus to get us there and back — but it was well worth it!!!

Now back to Oaxaca for desfiles (parades), ferias, artesania, and Guelaguetzas.

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On Saturday, we drove to San Bartolo Coyotepec for the opening of the exhibition, Colorum, an exhibit of art by the children of Oaxaca, mounted as part of tomorrow’s el Día del Niño (Children’s Day) celebrations.  We went primarily to support my friend Juan, as his son Allan was one of the young artists participating in the show.  However, we stayed because it was a wonderfully inspiring and uplifting experience and I applaud the Museo Estatal de Arte Popular Oaxaca (MEAPO) for encouraging and showcasing the imagination and creativity of the children of Oaxaca.

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What is given to children, the children will give to society.

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Children are the most important resource in the world and the best hope for the future.

The free imagination transforms the world and makes things fly.

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The Colorum exhibition lasts until May 20, 2014.  It is open from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Tuesday through Sunday.

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More from the Hecho en Oaxaca exhibit…

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The courtyard at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca (MACO)…

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Art is the tree of life.  — William Blake


					

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Another wall, courtesy of the Hecho en Oaxaca urban art project of the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca (MACO).  It reminds me of the John Mayer song,

Waiting on the World To Change

Me and all my friends
We’re all misunderstood
They say we stand for nothing and
There’s no way we ever could

Now we see everything that’s going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don’t have the means
To rise above and beat it

Wall art of boy sitting

So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

It’s hard to beat the system
When we’re standing at a distance
So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change

Now if we had the power
To bring our neighbors home from war
They would have never missed a Christmas
No more ribbons on their door
And when you trust your television
What you get is what you got
Cause when they own the information, oh
They can bend it all they want

That’s why we’re waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

It’s not that we don’t care,
We just know that the fight ain’t fair
So we keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

And we’re still waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting waiting on the world to change
One day our generation
Is gonna rule the population
So we keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

We keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

~~~

But, then again, maybe he’s waiting to join the struggle to make the change…

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