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Posts Tagged ‘artesania’

While Juana was wrapping the branches and trunk of my newly acquired hat stand (my aforementioned decade-in-Oaxaca anniversary present to myself), I wandered around the Matlacihua Arte.  My eyes and feet kept drawing me to a back corner of the showroom where a lamp, assembled from three intricately carved and painted jícara gourds, beckoned.

It is the work of Gabriel Sosa Ortega, the son of Jesus and Juana.  Working in a variety of mediums, Gabriel is one of the up and coming talented young artists being recognized in the state.  He was part of the Friends of Oaxacan Folk Art (FOFA) exhibition of young artists at the Museo Estatal de Arte Popular Oaxaca (MEAPO) and he collaborated with Jesus Sosa Calvo (his father) and US-based artist Joe Lewis in a piece for the Bajo la bóveda azul cobalto/Under the Cobalt Blue Sky — an exhibition of international collaboration at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca (MACO).

Gabriel’s lamp made me an offer I couldn’t refuse!

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As of today, it has been ten years since I, accompanied by two suitcases and a backpack, arrived to begin making lemonade out of lemons by moving to Oaxaca.  And, in case you haven’t guessed, I haven’t regretted it for a minute.  Oaxaca, how do I love thee?  There are too many ways to count!  However, being embraced by the warm and welcoming arms of Oaxaqueños and being surrounded by art, culture, and history are at the top of my list.  So, what better way to celebrate the past ten years than to commission a piece of functional art — a hat stand — from the San Martín Tilcaje workshop of Jesus Sosa Calvo.

Juana Vicente Ortega Fuentes and Jesus Sosa Calvo with my new hat stand.

Sunday, blogger buddy Chris and I pointed his little Jetta towards San Martín Tilcajete to pick it up.

When I discussed the piece with Jesus, my only instructions to him were that he incorporate hummingbirds (colibries, en español) in the design — and he certainly did! (Click on images to enlarge.)

The initial plan had been for the hat rack to reside in my bedroom.  However, it was way too beautiful not live near the entrance to Casita Colibrí, for all visitors to see.

My new piece of functional art already looks at home in Casita Colibrí.

Muchisimas gracias to Oaxaca and her people for enriching my life for the past ten years.  Here is to many more!!!

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Day one back in Oaxaca…

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Warm sun, blue sky, and rocking horses parked on Calle de Mariano Abasolo.

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Vendor from Puebla with a truck full of dramatic wooden dancing horses from Zacatecas.

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It’s good to be home!

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Artisans from the eight regions of Oaxaca have moved their hand-crafted textiles, pottery, wood carvings, jewelry, and more into the previously mentioned booths near the top of the Andador Turístico (Alcalá/walking street) and Paseo Juárez el Llano (Llano Park).  Not all the signs are in place, but the artisan vendors are.  The exposition and sale will run through the last Guelaguetza performance (August 1), so today’s mission was just to do an initial reconnaissance — to check out new vendors, see what I absolutely cannot live without, and connect with some of my favorite vendors.

Samuel Bautista Lazo

First up were the artisans in Llano Park, where I rendezvoused (stall #70) with my old (though he’s young) friend, Samuel Bautista Lazo, from Teotitlán del Valle.  As I’ve mentioned before, I met Sam and his family during my first visit to Oaxaca in 2007 and (of course) bought two tapetes to bring back to the San Francisco Bay Area.  The rugs returned to Oaxaca with me when I moved here in 2009.  Between then and now, Sam has gotten his Ph.D. in Sustainable Manufacturing at the University of Liverpool (yes, England!), returned to Oaxaca, and is currently helping his family market and manage Dixza Rugs & Organic Farm — their weaving and Bed & Breakfast business.

Daughter of Amalia Martínez Casas

At one of the stalls along the Alcalá, I spotted the unmistakable work of Amalia Martínez Casas from Tamazulápam del Espíritu Santo, a mountain village in the Mixe.  Alas, it was her daughter staffing the booth.  She assured me that Amalia’s health was okay, but that she’s getting old and had decided not to make the tiring journey down from the mountains into the city.  I have several huipiles and a serape of Amalia’s but I must admit, I am very tempted to add another piece to my oft-worn collection.

Honorina Goméz Martínez

Lastly, I stopped by to greet Honorina Gómez Martínez and Pablo Martínez Martínez from Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, also in the Mixe, and just a few miles up the mountain from Tamazulapam.  It never ceases to amaze me how clothing styles vary dramatically in Oaxaca, not only from region to region, but also from village to village, within the same region.  You may remember, Doña Honorina Gómez was a leading spokesperson in the plagiarism dispute with a couple of French designers, which the embroiderers of Tlahuitoltepec eventually won and which prompted Oaxaca’s congress to declare indigenous costume and language as part of the state’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage.”

However, a new charge of plagiarism is being reported— this time, against Argentine designer Rhapsodia — for copying designs from San Antonino Castillo Velasco.  When I return to the expoventa in the next couple of days, I will have to ask one of the artisans from San Antonino about it.  Besides, I’ve always coveted a dress from San Antonino.

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I’m back in Oaxaca — and I’m not the only one!  The city’s streets and sidewalks are more congested than usual as tourists, both national and international, have begun pouring in.  Why? you ask.  They have come for the annual Guelaguetza folkloric performances the next two Mondays on Cerro Fortin in Oaxaca city.  And, a few might even venture out to join locals at the more intimate Guelaguetzas in many of the villages that surround the city.

There will be food and drink ferias and festivals…

There will be calendas (parades), expo-ventas (artisan sales), and exhibitions…

There will be concerts, including this one by Lila Downs…

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And, SO much more!  The above posters illustrate just a fraction of the activities surrounding the Lunes del Cerro (Mondays on the hill).  For a more comprehensive, though not by any means complete, list of events, check out the calendar below.

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Sheesh, it seems like they add more things to do and see every year.  However, I’m looking forward to showing and sharing as much of it as possible with friends.

Click on each poster for a larger (more readable) image.

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I’m in the San Francisco Bay Area for a lengthy stay — a necessary trip to el norte to sell my grandparents house.  I’ve only been here for three weeks but I’m missing Oaxaca, already!  However, driving up Solano Ave. on my way to Berkeley, a storefront caught my eye.  Skeletons, tapetes, a riot of color…

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Where am I???

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Casa Oaxaca is a gift shop featuring arts and crafts from Southern Mexico.  Artesanía from Chiapas, Guerrero, Puebla, and (of course) Oaxaca cram every nook and cranny of the store.

Casa Oaxaca’s delightful owner, Guillermo (“Memo”) Robles, was born and raised in the city of Oaxaca and he returns frequently on buying trips.  All items are carefully (and lovingly, I think) bought directly from crafts people and artisan collectives.

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I stood talking with Memo for almost 30 minutes and, surrounded by the artesanía I have come to know and love, it was almost like being back in my adopted city.  Ahhh…  If you go, don’t forget to look up!

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I’ve also discovered Mi Pueblo Food Center in San Rafael, one of a small, privately owned, chain of supermarkets in Northern California.  I came home with Tajin seasoning, a bag of still warm tortillas, a whole roast chicken, quesillo, along with fruit, fresh herbs, vegetables, and a case of Modelo Especial (the latter especially for my son, in whose home I’m staying) — all for a better price than the unnamed, but well-known, big chains.  On my next visit, I’ve got to try their tamales.

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