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Posts Tagged ‘artists’

This morning, the steps leading into the Instituto de Artes Gráficas de Oaxaca (IAGO) were a reminder that it was one year ago today that Oaxaca and the world lost artist, philanthropist, and fighter for social justice and the environment, Francisco Toledo.

The Maestro can still be seen along the streets of Oaxaca — his creative spirit lives on.

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If you are out, about, and going to the mercados in Oaxaca in the last couple of months, you may have seen a clever contraption like the one below set up outside the Independencia entrance to Mercado IV Centenario. Where did they come from? Who made them? And, why? After a little research, I discovered this is a project of La Cosa Buena, “a social enterprise and nonprofit empowering Zapotec and Mixtec communities in Oaxaca to preserve their storied artistic traditions through social initiatives and equitable cultural exchange.”

Manos Buenas COVID-19 is a project that is supplying hand washing stations throughout the state of Oaxaca. Why? Because 30% of Mexico’s population lives without potable water — and that makes the frequent hand washing necessary to help prevent the spread of the virus extremely problematic. Not to mention, according to the project’s website…

“Indigenous communities are nearly three times as likely to be living in extreme poverty and are more likely to suffer negative outcomes from infectious diseases. Many Indigenous communities in Oaxaca are already impacted by malnutrition, pre-existing conditions, and lack access to quality healthcare.

We work with several Indigenous artisan communities in rural parts of Oaxaca. We are actively helping our community during this crisis by building and distributing Hand Washing Stations. 

Requiring only wood, rope, soap, and a container of water, they are inexpensive and easy to build. The icing on the cake is the involvement of local artists to bring an artistic aesthetic to these utilitarian and necessary structures. The one below is at La Cosecha and is decorated by one of my favorite arts collective, Tlacolulokos.

And there is more! In addition to the building and distribution of the hand washing stations, the Manos Buenas project is developing graphic and multilingual public health campaigns to insure information and resources re Covid-19 are available in the many languages of Oaxaca’s indigenous communities.

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Oaxaca is in mourning. Last night, word of the passing of one of her greatest champions, Maestro Francisco Toledo was announced by Mexico’s president — an indication of the importance and esteem the Maestro is held. Born in Juchitán, Oaxaca on July 17, 1940, Toledo died in Oaxaca city on September 5, 2019, at age 79.

This morning outside the Instituto de Artes Gráficas de Oaxaca (IAGO), which he founded and funded.

Besides being a world renown artist, he was a fighter for social justice and the environment, a very generous philanthropist, and crusader for the respect of indigenous peoples and character of Oaxaca. People are still chuckling over the unique form of protest he led when a McDonald’s threatened to open in the zocaló.

This morning, inside the Instituto de Artes Gráficas de Oaxaca (IAGO).

We awoke this morning to see the gigantic Mexican flag that flutters above the city of Oaxaca flying at half staff and large black bows, indicating a family in mourning, had been fastened above many of the institutions that benefited from Toledo’s philanthropy.

Biblioteca Pública Central Margarita Maza de Juárez – Oaxaca’s main public library.

The streets of Oaxaca are little more subdued today — less laughter, music muted, and even the traffic doesn’t seem as chaotic.

On the sidewalk outside the Instituto de Artes Gráficas de Oaxaca (IAGO).

A public tribute to the Maestro is scheduled for 2:00 PM today at the Teatro Macedonio Alcalá.

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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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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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Back to Havana… and the colorful and captivating Callejón de Hamel, in Barrio Cayo Hueso.  (For a more in depth and fascinating history of this neighborhood, see Neighborhood as Refuge: Community Reconstruction, Place Remaking, and Environmental Justice in the City  by Isabelle Anguelovski.)

It was our first full day and serendipity and synchronicity brought us Dayan, an enthusiastic guide with boundless energy and pride.

Without hesitation, Dayan immediately made a beeline to this alley  — the creation of self-taught artist, Salvador González Escalona.  It is a living, breathing gallery and studio, where artists were welding and painting as we stopped to watch and wonder at their creations.

The cultural character of this community cannot be separated from its religious traditions and practices — a syncretism of African religions brought by slaves and Catholicism brought by the Spanish conquerors.  Salvador Gonzáles Escalona explains, “I am talking about the religion known as Santería, which comes from the Yorubas; Palo Monte, which comes from the Congo; Abakuá, which has to do with Calabar [the Cross River Delta in Nigeria]; and maybe some manifestations of spiritism, a cultural expression of working class people, the ordinary folks in our country.”

Callejón de Hamel is also home to a vibrant musical scene.  “In this alley many years ago, in the 40’s, a cuban musical movement was born, known as ‘filin,’ songs of feeling, with our friend Angelito Díaz and his now deceased father, Tirso Díaz. There were figures such as Elena Burque, the late Moraima Secada, aunt of Jon Secada, Omara Portuondo [featured in Buena Vista Social Club], César Portillo de la Luz, and many others.” — Salvador Gonzáles

On Sundays, around noon, the street comes alive with musicians, dancers, and the sights and sounds of Cuban rumba.  Alas, around that time, we were in the midst of changing hotels.  Next time, for sure!

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Last week, walking down Crespo, I spotted a mural at the turnoff to Calle Panorámicas del Fortín and discovered it was the work of Jesus Kobe.

Hmmm… Recently, I’d seen another of his works on Allende near Crespo.

I was familiar with the artist because last year, friends and I were walking along Panorámicas and stopped at this mural.

We walked further along to find another mural, but without a signature.  It turned out the artist was walking by and when he saw us admiring the work, he graciously stopped to chat.  It was Kobe and he explained that he only signs his work once it is completed.

Serendipity, why this place never ceases to surprise and delight!

And, watch and hear Kobe explain the inspiration that underlies the mural he created for Santa Fe Taqueria in Portland, Oregon:

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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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It’s been one year since the passing of maestro Arnulfo Mendoza Ruíz.

Tejedor de los sueños by Charles Barth

Tejedor de los sueños by Charles Barth (alas, with reflections from other pieces)

To honor his life, an exhibit of works by his friends, colleagues, and family was inaugurated at La Mano Mágica on March 13, 2015.

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His older son, Gabriel Mendoza Gagnier, curated this amazing collection of paintings, weaving, and artesanía.

Assisted by Arnulfo’s companion, Yukiko, the opening featured, not only amazing art, but also mezcal, tamales, and surprise entertainment by Carnaval dancers from San Martín Tilcajete, wearing masks carved by some of the well-known carvers from the village, including Inocenio Vásquez and Jésus Sosa Calvo.

Jésus Sosa Calvo had carved the signature entry sign for La Mano Mágica and recently, unasked, came by to freshen up the paint that had faded over the years under the intense Oaxaca sun.

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While, in the words of Manuel Matus Manzo,  Arnulfo Mendoza may have gone on “to meet the Jaguar and the god Murcielago,” the dreams of his magical hands remain.

Finally, this beautiful poem by Alberto Blanco from the exhibit’s catalog…

Mitades a Arnulfo

I
La mitad de la tierra
no sueña con la luna.
La mitad de la luna
no sueña con el sol.

Si la luna es la trama,
y si el sol es la urdimbre,
esa tierra es la tela
donde acaso se vive.

II
La vida es la comedia
ya la muerte es el drama,
pero el textil de siempre
es la urdimbre y la trama.

La mitad de la vida,
la mitad de la muerte:
una tela tejida
con un hilo de suerte.

 

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More of the mural from yesterday’s post

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“¡Solo Dios perdona!” (Only God forgives!)

Seen on the same wall in Tlacolula de Matamoros where we were stopped in our tracks by the Tlacolula never dies mural in August.  Both were conceived and created by the Tlacolulokos colective.

The artists are known for fusing iconic Mexican imagery with political and social commentary and can be found on Facebook.

These traditional religious standards voice today’s messages, “against all governments” and “alive we want them.”  The latter refers to the disappeared and murdered students from the Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos, teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, one of whom, Christian Tomás Colón Garnica, is from Tlacolula.

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Many of you may remember Juan Martinez, mi amigo and carpenter extraordinaire of Adios mosquitos and A terrace transformed fame.  Well, he is a man of many talents — and one of them is building kaleidoscopes.  Given that his “day job” is working in the office of Gorilla Glass, he has come into contact with many of the hip, young, and talented artists currently creating in Oaxaca.  Thus, a natural collaboration ensued.   Juan + Gorilla Glass + Lapiztola stencil = an exhibition of the Lapiztola Collective’s artistry at Gorilla Gallery.

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Looking into the eye of the kaleidoscope.

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What do you see?

There is the second kaleidoscope — this one a hand-crank.  Come by Gorilla Gallery on one of the next couple of Thursdays from 2 PM to 8 PM, to give it a try.

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And, be forewarned, they are working on a special Día de los Muertos kaleidoscopic project.  Prepare to be amazed!

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Yesterday, as I was walking home, the eyes of these guys caught my eye.

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More eyes beckoned me across the large driveway/parking area, that separated the mural filled walls from the sidewalk.

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A sign for Okupa Visual Oaxaca was pointing the way, so I figured I must not be trespassing and might even be welcome.

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More eyes drew me toward an open door…

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I peered inside the Taller de Grafica Experimental de Oaxaca and was greeted with the warm smile of artist, Guillermo Pacheco López.  He showed me around the light airy gallery and studio and explained the programs they offer.  We then proceeded through an open doorway into a another multipurpose space.

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Besides more gallery and workshop space, it is home to Café Panartesano and where his delightful wife, Kate, along with an assistant, bake brownies, blondies, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies, and other yummy looking sweets.  In addition, they make homemade pizza and tortas.

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As you may have guessed from the above menu, Kate is from the USA — San Francisco to be geographically precise.  We had much in common and I stayed for almost half an hour chatting with her.  Naturally, I couldn’t resist buying a chicken with zucchini and red bell pepper torta on focaccia, which was muy sabrosa!

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If you are in town, I highly recommend stopping by Taller de Grafica Experimental de Oaxaca and Café Panartesana.  They are located at La Noria 305 (at the corner of Melchor Ocampo).

Nourishing body and soul — that’s Oaxaca!

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After five days of being confined to Casita Colibrí — eating, inhaling, and choking on concrete and brick-dust and enduring the throbbing sounds of drills, hammers, and chisels — due to demolition of the old and construction of a new kitchen counter (still not finished), market day in Tlacolula de Matamoros was just what the doctor ordered.   Blogger buddy Chris offered and off we went.

The enticing aroma of tacos and gorditas at our favorite street stall beckoned and we quickened our step, until we came to this unexpected and powerful mural…

The mural is the work of Tlacolulokos, a collective that originated in Tlacolula.  According to this article, these self-taught artists explore the subjects of violence, the transformation of traditions, tourism, poverty, and social decay by referencing southern Mexican folk elements.  They use a variety of media and techniques, ranging from graffiti, easel painting, graphics and object, to video and sound.

And, Tlacolula worked her magic…  We ate, soaked in her color, stopped to listen to a youth band from Santa María Guelac (with a girl tuba player, no less!) play “New York, New York” and “Can-can,” and shopped a little (for me, a 5-liter plastic “gas” canister for our next mezcal run and red bananas).  Tlacolula never dies and never gets old.

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The “buildings in a bad state” in Oaxaca continue to multiply.

crumbling adobe wall with sign "precaución! inmueble en mal estado"

Where some see unsightly decay, others see opportunity…

Crumbling adoble & brick wall with graffiti, "This is a good spot"

including urban artist, SCOM.

Crumbling adobe wall with graffiti creature by SCOM

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