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Posts Tagged ‘ceramic sculptures’

Many years ago, I attended a benefit sale at Galería La Mano Mágica to raise money to enable famed ceramicist Josefina Aguilar to have cataract surgery. My eyes were immediately drawn to a sculpture by her granddaughter, Fran Garcia Vásquez. I bought it and the Tehuana sculpture remains one of my most treasured pieces — though she has had her ups and downs.

The 8.2 earthquake in September 2017 resulted in a broken arm. It was a clean break and I was able to make the repair.

Alas, in June 2020 (due to my carelessness), she suffered more serious injuries — the extent of which were well beyond my abilities to mend. She and all her pieces were carefully cushioned in a box and there she lay through the worst of the pandemic and my move to Barrio de Jalatlaco.

It was only a month or so ago that it dawned on me to contact her creator, Fran Garcia Vásquez to ask if she could repair my sculpture — after all, she had the clay, paint, and expertise! She readily agreed and on March 13, I took my treasured Tehuana to the workshop she shares with family members in Ocotlán de Morelos (Av. Morelos #428). Five days later, the repair had been completed and she brought the sculpture to my home.

Fran Garcia Vásquez

When Fran unwrapped and placed the Tehuana in my hands, I must admit I became a little teary eyed. The sculpture is as good as new and looks proud and serene in her new home.

March 19 was Día de las Artesanas y los Artesanos in Mexico and the entire month of March is designated “Month of the Artisan.” I want to thank all of them deeply for carrying on, often renewing, and always enriching traditions with their own creative spirit.

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It is a mostly quiet feast day for Oaxaca’s patron saint, La Virgen de la Soledad (the Virgin of Solitude). If you have ever been to Oaxaca you probably visited her at the Basilica built in her honor and seen images of this Reina y Patrona de Oaxaca (Queen and Patroness of Oaxaca) for sale, carried in religious processions, and tucked into niches.

Virgen de la Soledad clay sculpture by Irma García Blanco* in Barrio de Xochimilco

In non Covid-19 times, she is celebrated with anything but solitude. A cacophony of chiming bells, brass bands, crackles, pops, bangs, and whistles from fireworks, toritos, and a castillo fill the air (and severely limit sleep) in the days and nights leading up to December 18. And the aroma of Oaxaca street food from stalls set up to feed the pilgrims who often spend the night of December 17, permeates the neighborhood.

Image of the mule who refused to move located in the garden behind the Basilica de la Soledad

Since her unceremonious arrival 400 years ago on a mule who laid his burden down and refused to get back up, “In critical moments, such as earthquakes, epidemics, droughts, conflicts, social upheaval and others, she has been with us, to give us her company. Not only on her feast day, but almost every day they come to give thanks to Our Lady for continued life and good health.” — Nicolás Ramírez García, Rector de la Basílica Menor. (My translation)

Virgen de la Soledad sculpture in a niche near Jardín Conzatti

This year she has not processed through the city but instead remains behind the closed doors of her home in the Basilica de la Soledad. In order to keep her people safe from the virus, today her bejeweled figure does not preside over open air mass in the church atrium, the faithful are not able to line up to pray before her, light candles, and touch her mantle with bouquets of flowers and traditional herbs. Worshippers have been urged to maintain the faith from their homes and pray in front of their own images of La Virgen.

My Virgen de la Soledad clay sculpture by Irma García Blanco*

The Virgin of Solitude has been my neighbor for more than eleven years and I mourn the unnatural quiet, but look forward to next year — no doubt a celebration magnified in gratitude for surviving the pandemic.

*Irma García Blanco is one of the Grandes Maestros del Arte Popular de Oaxaca and is the daughter of Oaxaca’s grand matriarch of decorative pottery, Teodora Blanco Nuñez.

Update: While the doors were closed, based on photos in this article, apparently a limited number of worshippers were allowed into the Basilica for the mass celebrated by the archbishop.

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The Three Wise Monkeys

See no evil,
Hear no evil,
Speak no evil.

Well, maybe not monkeys! From the Día de Muertos altar “Transitions” by Estudio Dinamo at Voces de Copal Galeria.

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