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Posts Tagged ‘artists’

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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Blog post as catharsis…

Saturday was a sad day in Oaxaca.  It brought the completely unexpected death of one of Oaxaca’s most talented artists, Arnulfo Mendoza Ruiz.  He was only 59.  I knew him a little, peripherally through my blogger buddy, Chris, who has known him and his large Zapotec family in Teotitlán del Valle (his sisters are well-known chefs) for many years and with whom he had been collaborating on a project.  Arnulfo had a well-known store and workshop called La Mano Mágica on the walking street here in Oaxaca, which showcased, not only his artistry (paintings, exquisite weavings, metal work, and more), but also the cream of Oaxaca’s artesanía and artist community.  We would occasionally stop by or he would hail us from the doorway — always with twinkling eyes, mischievous smile, and well-worn fedora atop his head.

Black bow above closed doors of La Mano Mágica

Today, the doors are closed.

As I’ve mentioned several times before, ritual and tradition play central roles in all aspects of Zapotec culture and it was amazing to watch it being expressed on Saturday.  Arnulfo died in the morning and by the early afternoon, friends, family, and many of the major artists in Oaxaca, were gathered in La Mano Mágica.  At one point, there was mournful chanting by several men in the gallery where his casket lay, later a band played, people came and went in the main workshop room, and in the room behind, his sisters prepared and served chicken covered in black mole, rice, tortillas, and atole.  The women busied themselves with the ritual of preparing and offering food, but allowed the tears to well up when condolences were given.  However, the men in the family sat or stood in clusters in the other two rooms, and remained stoic.

Mourners in church plaza, El Picacho in background

Under the embrace of El Picacho

According to belief, the funeral was held the next day.  As we drove out to Teotitlán del Valle on Sunday, the winter sky’s usual puffy white clouds had turned dark and gray and a few tear drops fell from the heavens.  There is a tradition of dimming the lights on Broadway to honor the death of a prominent member of the theatrical community.  And, yesterday, it felt like Mother Nature desaturated the color of Oaxaca a little in honor of Arnulfo Mendoza Ruiz.

Casket being carried into church

Led by the solemn sounds of a band, pallbearers carried the casket from his home high atop a hill in Teotitlán del Valle, down the steep and winding cobblestone streets, to Templo de la Preciosa Sangre de Cristo where a mass was celebrated.  And then, all processed to the cemetery.  The anguished sobs, as his body was lowered into the earth, were heart-wrenching.  Like laughter, I think grief is contagious, as it reaches into our heart, takes hold, and shakes the continuum of feeling in each of us.  And so, tears welled-up in my eyes.

Floral wreath with ribbon reading, "Descansa Arnulfo"

Rest in peace, Arnulfo

Today, I continue to feel drained and very sad.  I didn’t know Arnulfo well, but feel humbled by the fragility of physical life.  I keep reflecting on how each of us tries to bring meaning to this temporal physical existence.  Arnulfo was a flawed man and was chased by demons, but in his creativity and nurturing of the arts, he left the world a little better than he found it.

Chris’s farewell blog posts to his friend are especially touching:   A sad day – Arnulfo Mendoza (1954-2014) and Another sad day – Arnulfo Mendoza (1954-2014).

And, here are two online obituaries (in Spanish):  Adiós a Arnulfo Mendoza and Oaxaca de luto por la muerte de Arnulfo Mendoza.

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Yesterday, in the midst of Guelaguetza festivities, Oaxaca learned of the death of one of her beloved artists.   A sculpture and painter, Alejandro Santiago was only 49 years old when he succumbed to a massive hear attack.

Image of Alejandro Santiago projected on screen at Homage

Image of Alejandro Santiago projected on the screen at today’s Homage

Perhaps his most important work resulted from a return to the Zapotec village of his birth, San Pedro Teococuilco, after many years away.  He was moved by the large numbers of men and women who had left, leaving it almost deserted.  Inspired and feeling the need to make a statement about what had happened to his pueblo, and countless others in Mexico, he created a massive exhibition of 2501 sculptures, an homage to those who had left, plus one — those who are yet to make the journey northward.

One of his 2501 Migrants from a 2012 exhibit along Macedonio Alcalá,

One of his 2501 Migrants from a 2012 exhibit along Macedonio Alcalá,

There was an Homage to Maestro Alejandro Santiago this morning at the Teatro Macedonio Alcalá.

Casket of Alejandro Santiago on the stage of Teatro Macedonio Alcalá

Casket of Alejandro Santiago on the stage of Teatro Macedonio Alcalá

And, according to Think Mexican, there will be a memorial “in the coming days at La Calera.”

For more photos from the 2501 Migrants exhibit, see my blog post The path of the migrant.

Update:  Valerie J. Nelson has written a lengthy tribute to Alejandro Santiago for the Los Angeles Times.

RIP, Maestro.

 

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One can see his art all over the city.  I’d first been wowed by the scale, symbolism, and style of his work early last year, when walking up Matamoros to meet a friend who was staying at Hotel Azucenas.  At Calle Prof. M. Aranda, I was stopped dead in my tracks — the entire front of the building next to the hotel had been transformed. Using a roller, not brush or spray can, the artist known as Sanez turned it into a work of art.

In September 2012, Sanez again worked his magic on this tired old building — this time creating “El Canto del Agua” (The Song of Water).  According to the article, Mesoamerican Peoples Express their Solidarity by Jonathan Treat, using “symbols of the Aztec god of rain, fertility and water—Tláloc, and corn, forests, animals, campesinos and campesinos and traditional Oaxaca fiestas… Sánez honors indigenous peoples struggling to defend their territories:  [The mural is] ‘Dedicated to the peoples who organize to defend their commons and the common good—Mexico and Canada.’”

Another close encounter with the work of Sanez occurred last month when I ventured across Republica into Barrio de Jalatlaco.  Besides its un-city-like tranquility and quaint tree-lined, but treacherous, cobblestone streets, this bucolic neighborhood always has great street art.  However, I didn’t expect to find the restaurant, Fuego y Sazón, playing host to the unmistakeable style of Sanez.  Wow!

And then…  Just a few days before this current trip to California, I was at Gorilla Gallery (Crespo 213) talking to Jason Pfohl (glass artist and guiding spirit behind Gorilla Glass) when Sanez came in.  He came to discuss plans for his live painting on glass event at the gallery.  Alas, I was already in the US on May 31, when it occurred.  However, if you are currently in Oaxaca, you can see the finished piece at the gallery on Thursdays between 2 and 8 PM.  Besides the immense glass canvas, the gallery is featuring prints by Sanez — and I’m sure Jason would be happy to discuss the distinctive tattoo work of Sanez.

In addition, you might want to slow down when driving along Constituyentes behind Mercado de Abastos — that giant billboard mural towering above the weeds and refuse is another of Sanez’s masterpieces.

 

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Oaxaca is mourning the loss of painter, Juan Alcázar Méndez, who succumbed to complications related to diabetes yesterday.

Juan Alcázar Méndez.  Photo from Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes

Juan Alcázar Méndez. Photo from Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes

Alcázar was born in Guadalupe Etla, Oaxaca in 1955 and entered the School of Fine Arts at the University Benito Juarez of Oaxaca at the age of 13.   He became known for his unique magic realism style.

Painting from fundraising auction by the Oaxaca Lending Library, 2010.

Painting from fundraising auction by the Oaxaca Lending Library, 2010

He was the founder of the Taller Rufino Tamayo, el Taller de Gráfica en la Casa de la Cultura, and the Taller Libre de Gráfica Oaxaqueña.  He was also one of the artists exhibited in the at the Mexican Consulate in San Francisco in 2012.

"El Rapto" at the The Magic Surrealists of Oaxaca exhibition 2012, San Francisco, CA.

“El Rapto” from the The Magic Surrealists of Oaxaca exhibition 2012, San Francisco, CA.

RIP, Juan Alcázar Méndez.  You will be missed but your magic will live on.

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The packing begins — this is “big move” week.  In the meantime, a little more graffiti…

… from under the fútbol (soccer) stadium.

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Yesterday was just what the doctor ordered.  On a long walk with best friend:  a quinceañera, Christmas piñatas, a wedding, chickens roasting, and fanciful graffiti under the fútbol (soccer) stadium… these with a decidedly feminine touch.  Love the incongruity!

An interview with one of Oaxaca’s female graffiti artists, PINK, can be found here (in English and Spanish).

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