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March 8 is International Women’s Day. In the words of a recent article by Nancy Rosenstock, a woman I knew back in the day, “In these challenging times, all women — from those of us who were involved in second-wave feminism to those just entering the struggle — need to come together as equal fighters and chart a course forward.”

We may have come a long way, but the struggle for equal rights, respect, freedom from violence, and control of our own bodies continues and the women of the walls of Oaxaca are not silent.

Many of the images also carry a written messages. Below, Nuestros sueños no caben en sus urnas / Our dreams do not fit in their ballot boxes carries an indictment against the capitalist political parties.

The next one lets the symbols of the ancestors speak.

From a women’s graphic campaign that seeks to express “what our bodies go through every day and what we are seeking when we scream: Vivas Nos Queremos / We Want Ourselves Alive.

And, a promise that women will not be silenced and will march forward Sin miedo / Without fear.

Then there is the mural, La Patria / The Homeland, which adorns the wall of a school in Barrio de Jalatlaco. La Patria, originally a painting by Jorge González Camarena of an indigenous woman surrounded by patriotic imagery, graced the covers of textbooks from the 1960s into the 1970s.

To honor and celebrate International Women’s Day, on March 8, La Mano Magica Gallery/Galería inaugurates an exhibit of women artists, Exposición de Arte Colectiva Mujeres Artistas, curated by Mary Jane Gagnier, at their gallery in Oaxaca and online on their Facebook page.

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In my effort to “step away” from the US election news, I went in search of the fourteen chairs of the “Silla Calavera” project scattered throughout restaurants and hotels in the city — a creative and calorie-burning distraction!

Artist: Juana Vicente Ortega Fuentes, decorative painter; displayed at Pitiona restaurant. Title: Levantada de Cruz (Raised Cross).
Artist: Fabián Pacheco, metalwork artisan; displayed at Gozobi restaurant. Title: Tradición y costumbre (Tradition and practice).
Artist: Francisca Calvo, wooden alebrije artisan; displayed at Pitiona restaurant. Title: Platicando sobre las costumbres de mi pueblo (Talking about customs of my people).
Artist: Jesús Sosa Calvo, wooden alebrije artisan; displayed at Hotel Parador. Title: Como ves te ves (As you see you see).

The project arose as an idea to spread the traditions of Oaxaca through artistic creations using an object of daily life — a comforting and comfortable seat, where each artist, through their creativity and respect for the dead, exposes the face of a skull.

Artists: Taller de Barro Zamani, polychrome clay artisans; displayed at Terranova restaurant. Title: Muertos que viven (The dead who live).
Artists: Erika Nancy Carrillo Carreño, Montserrat Mandujano, Eliézer Vargas García, artesanas de la Costa oaxaqueña; displayed at Hotel Trébol. Title: Colores de vida y muerte (Colors of life and death).
Artist: Colectivo Zegache (Alejandro Mendoza, Eleuteria Pacheco Mendoza, Edith Santo Méndez, Nancy Martínez Gaspar); displayed at Hotel Casa Garay. Title: Dxi tu gúl (Zapotec, unable to translate).
Artist: Meletón Lazo, surrealist artist; displayed at Hotel Ferri. Title: Flor de piña (Pineapple flower dance).

Unfortunately, this next chair had been disassembled by the time I arrived, but here, in two parts, the back and the seat.

Artist: Gabriel Sosa, wooden alebrije artisan; seat back at Los Danzantes restaurant. Title: Fiesta de colores (Festival of colors).
Artist: Gabriel Sosa, wooden alebrije artisan; seat at Los Danzantes restaurant. Title: Fiesta de colores (Festival of colors).

The artisans, I think with great success, sought to capture and share their roots, customs, and traditions.

Artist: Marcos Lucero, painter; displayed at Hotel Santa Rosa. Title: Bii tugul/Viento de muertos (Wind of the dead).
Artist: Juan Lazo, landscape painter; displayed at El Asador Vasco restaurant. Title: La muerte es mas vida (Death is life).
Artists: Paulino Ramirez and Eduardo Ramirez, painting and wooden alebrijes; displayed at Restaurant Casa Palmeras. Title: La última luz (The last light).
Artist: Alfonso Canseco Peligro, graphic artist; displayed at La Mala restaurant. Title: Siéntate, vamos a tomar (Sit down and let’s drink).
Artists: Luis Lazo and family, textile artists; displayed at Hotel Casa Vertiz. Title: Ciclo de vida (Cycle of life).

Yesterday, the chairs were removed from the restaurants and hotels. Tonight, with an inaugural celebration, they went on display at ARIPO until November 15, 2020. For purchase after that date, contact Matlacihua Arte or individual artists.

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Today, March 8, women around the world are celebrating International Women’s Day with marches, forums, exhibitions, and more. The mass media is filled with stories about extraordinary women and companies catering to women are using references to International Women’s Day in their advertising, though, I might add, very few mention its revolutionary past.

However, it isn’t today’s demonstrations, expositions, and other special events that has women in Mexico talking. It is the call for women to disappear for a day to protest the staggering amount of violence perpetrated against them. Government statistics report that 3,825 women met violent deaths last year, 7% more than in 2018. That works out to about 10 women slain each day in Mexico, making it one of the most dangerous countries in the world for females. Thousands more have gone missing without a trace in recent years.

Using the hashtags #ParoNacionaldeMujeres (National Women’s Strike), #UnDíaSinNosotras (A Day Without Us), and #UnDíaSinMujeres (A Day Without Women), organizers have reached out to the women of Mexico that on Monday, March 9, nothing moves: Don’t go out, don’t shop, don’t go to school, and don’t consume — become invisible, simulating the thousands of women who have been murdered or disappeared.

As three female legislators wrote in an article expressing their support for the strike, Women are responsible for about half of the compensated economic activity in the country, and relied upon disproportionately for unpaid work in the home, which is roughly equivalent to 15% of Mexico’s GDP. In exchange, our rights are impaired or ignored. Women have become the protagonists of thousands upon thousands of stories of violence and impunity at the hands of men who, in public and in private, feel they have a right to decide over our lives and our bodies…. That and many, many reasons more are why Mexico’s women will march in protest on March 8, and stop everything – stop working, stop asking, stop accepting – on March 9.

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Hidden behind community tables and surrounded by food stalls, produce, textiles, and artesania, is a wall of murals at the newest location of the Pochote Xochimilco Mercado Orgánico y Artesanal.

This incarnation of the Pochote Organic and Artisan Market is located in Colonia Reforma at Calle Almendros #417 (between Manuel Ruiz and Heroico Colegio Militar) and is open Friday through Sunday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

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I can’t think of a better way to honor the memory of Maestro Toledo, than to acknowledge, encourage, and celebrate young artistic talent. “Disguise the new water pipes,” she (the dueña) said.

And, so, Ulises, the 18 year old handyman/mozo in our apartment complex complied — and we were all impressed.

From what we gathered, Ulises had no formal artistic training. Yet, next thing we knew, courtesy of Uli, a rat had invaded our compound!

Soon thereafter, Uli had added Mara and Notte (our resident gatitos/cats), a tree, and a colibri/hummingbird to the scene.

Uli continued to explore his talent.

And, we now have a fierce, but lovely, jaguar on the scene! If only, every young person had the opportunity to explore their inner talent.

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Armed with their art, the women of Armarte OAX have taken to the streets to raise their voices in struggle.

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And, they aren’t alone in Oaxaca…

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In the early evening of International Women’s Day, thousands of women “reclaimed” some of the most dangerous streets of the city demanding an end to street harassment, punishment for rapists, the cessation of violence against women, and safe abortion.

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Struggle, the other “women’s work.”

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How lucky can a gal get?

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On day five back in Oaxaca, a last-minute invitation found me venturing behind an unassuming red iron door at Libertad 24, San Antonino Castillo Velasco and being greeted by welcoming figures of all shapes and sizes gathered throughout a large earthen courtyard.

This is the home and workshop of Grand Maestro, José García Antonio, also known as the blind potter.

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Losing his sight to glaucoma, he continues to sculpt sensual and evocative figures from the local barro (clay).

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He was married to his beloved wife, Santa Teresita Mendoza Reyna Sanchez, in 1987.

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Her face and body are etched in his memory and continue to provide a model for many of his female figures.

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The twinkle in those all-seeing sightless eyes and the artistry in those gifted hands give form and life to his creations in clay.

“It would seem that the hearts of the potters of Oaxaca are made of clay. Their emotions, intuitions, joys, fears and fantasies flow through their bloodstream until arriving at the hands which knead the clay and, as if by magic, transform it into exquisite ceramic sculptures.” (quoted from “The Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art.”)

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This morning, on the way to my Oaxaca Lending Library cataloging shift (once a librarian, always a librarian), I made a detour through Jalatlaco, where the murals always give one pause.

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I was on my way to Clinica Hospital Florencia to check on my 92 year old neighbor who had a pacemaker installed yesterday afternoon (once a nurse, always a nurse).

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Like Oaxaca, she is strong…

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She is proud…

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And, she is back home after only 24 hours and feeling GREAT!!!

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Passing Erika Santiago‘s haunting mural along the wall outside Almacén Mexicano on Calle Valentín Gómez Farías, Sad-Eyed Lady Of the Lowlands began playing in my head.

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Sometimes art brings a song.  And, maybe we are all a little sad these days.

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Today is International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day, and in cities and towns all over the world (except the USA, but that’s another story), workers and the dignity of the work they do is being celebrated.  It’s a federal holiday in Mexico and as I write, I can hear loudspeakers from the various marches taking place in Oaxaca city.  Given that non-citizens are forbidden by the Mexican Constitution from participating in political activity, I’m staying home.  However, to honor the workers of the world, I’m looking back to my visit to the Secretaría de Educación Pública (Secretariat of Public Education) building in Mexico City and the murals of Diego Rivera.

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…Let the winds lift your banners from far lands
With a message of strife and of hope:
Raise the Maypole aloft with its garlands
That gathers your cause in its scope….

…Stand fast, then, Oh Workers, your ground,
Together pull, strong and united:
Link your hands like a chain the world round,
If you will that your hopes be requited.

When the World’s Workers, sisters and brothers,
Shall build, in the new coming years,
A lair house of life—not for others,
For the earth and its fulness is theirs.

 Walter Crane, The Workers’ Maypole, 1894

¡Feliz Día del Trabajo a tod@s!  Happy International Workers’ Day to all!

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On Calle de Ignacio Allende at the corner of Tinoco y Palacios, a new mural is ready to take you on a magic carpet ride.

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Well, you don’t know what we can find
Why don’t you come with me little girl
On a magic carpet ride
You don’t know what we can see
Why don’t you tell your dreams to me
Fantasy will set you free
Close your eyes girl
Look inside girl
Let the sound take you away

Magic Carpet Ride, written by Normal Cook, Robert Manuel Clivilles, and David Bryon Cole; performed by Steppenwolf.

 

Hopefully, this mural won’t be slapped with “pintura no autorizada” signs like its predecessor.

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I was recently in Mexico City, where I spent hours at the Secretaría de Educación Pública (Secretariat of Public Education) building marveling at the three floors of murals by Diego Rivera.  And so, in honor of International Women’s Day, some of the women in the murals…

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Happy International Women’s Day to the women of the world!  May your strength, creativity, intelligence, and love prevail.

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After three weeks in el norte, all my bags are packed and I’m ready to return to Oaxaca.  While malls and supermarkets abound here in the San Francisco Bay Area, shopping doesn’t hold a candle to experiencing the Sunday market in Tlacolula de Matamoros.

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Sidewalk murals greet shoppers on their way to the mercado.

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Wearing traditional skirts, blouses, rebozos, and aprons, vendors compete for customers.

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Stopping inside the mercado for barbacoa de chivo is a delicious way to take a break.

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The apron selection, like everything else, is mind boggling!

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Lastly, another sidewalk mural to send shoppers on their way home.

There is nothing like the life and color of shopping in Oaxaca.  ¡Hasta pronto!

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Walls of murals may be welcomed and encouraged in Tlacolula de Matamoros and Villa de Zaachila but, alas, such is not the case in the city of Oaxaca.  Remember the image on my Surfin’ safari post in September?

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Calle de Ignacio Allende at the corner of Tinoco y Palacios

And it wasn’t even finished — it is even more impressive now!

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However, do you see the two sheets of paper defacing the mural?

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Here we go again…  Like Color and culture, unwelcome and Lapiztola’s incredibly moving mural on the side of Museo Belber Jimenez, the authorities have declared this wonderful piece of art did not have their permission and will, most probably, be painted over.  Don’t they have more pressing problems to deal with?  Hint:  The multiple buildings “en mal estado” scattered throughout the Historic District that are in danger of collapsing onto pedestrians and drivers.

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It’s good to be back in Oaxaca — land of mezcal.  Even the walls sing its praises.

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And, they are not alone — so does National Geographic, with their article, A Mezcal Boom Spurs Creativity.

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