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Tonight, the living began welcoming the dead with a Gran Comparsa through the streets of Oaxaca, beginning at Parque Juárez El Llano and ending at the Plaza de la Danza — the latter, almost on my doorstep! Visitors and Oaxaqueños, young and old, lined the parade route in anticipation.

With bands leading the way, catrinas in regional dress and dancers in traditional muerteada attire whirled and twirled, high-stepped and jumped, and moved and grooved their way through the streets.

Día de Muertos observances are different in the indigenous villages — the mood is more formal and each village has customs and rituals that tradition dictates must be followed. Even the dates and times the difuntos arrive to join their living families can differ. However, in both ciudad and pueblo, the goal is to bring together the living and their dead to eat, drink, and reminisce.

After the comparsa passed, I walked around the corner to Casita Colibrí. However, no sooner had I downloaded my photos, the unmistakable sound of fireworks being launched from the Plaza de la Danza called me out onto my terrace. The music and partying continued until 10:30 PM.

The celebrations have only just begun! Click HERE for the very long list of Día de Muertos cultural events in the City of Oaxaca. And, below are some of the activities happening in many of the villages outside the city. (Click on image to enlarge.)

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With dancers and props arrived and prepped and streets blocked to traffic, this past Saturday’s second Guelaguetza Desfile de Delegaciones (Parade of Delegations) set off from Calzada Porfirio Díaz to again wind its way through the city’s streets.

San Carlos Yautepec, Sierra Sur

Santa Catarina Ticuá, Mixteca

San Francisco del Mar, Istmo

Danza de los Rubios – Santiago Juxtlahuaca, Mixteca

Huautla de Jiménez, Cañada

Danza de los Jardineros – San Andrés Zautla, Valles Centrales

Danza de los Diablos – Llano Grande, Mixteca

Loma Bonita, Papaloapan

H. Cd. de Huajuapan de León, Mixteca

Santiago Pinotepa Nacional, Costa

Asunción Ixtaltepec, Istmo

Danza de la Pluma – Teotitlán del Valle, Valles Centrales

Miahuatlán de Porfirio Díaz, Sierra Sur

Mezcal, pride, and joy were all in abundance!

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There has been so much happening in Oaxaca, this week seems to have gone by in a colorful blur. It’s already Saturday and the city is gearing up for the second Guelaguetza desfile (parade) of delegations from the eight regions of Oaxaca. And, I realized that I never did cover the first parade last Saturday — other than a single photo in the Snapshots from Oaxaca post of the China Oaxaqueña delegation huddled in the rain. I am happy to report that the storm passed and it didn’t rain on the parade.

Chinas Oaxaqueñas Genova Medina, Valles Centrales

Chinas Oaxaquenas Doña Genova,
Valles Centrales

Ejutla de Crespo, Valles Centrales

San Sebastián Tecomaxtlahuaca, Mixteca

Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, Sierra Norte

San Blas Atempa, Istmo

Putla de Guerrero, Sierra Sur

Tiliches of Putla de Guerrero, Sierra Sur

Chalcatongo de Hidalgo, Mixteca

San Juan Bautista Tuxtepec, Papaloapan

San Pedro Pochutla, Costa

Chinas Oaxaqueñas Casilda, Valles Centrales

San Francisco Sola, Sierra Sur

San Felipe Usila, Papaloapan

This wasn’t even all the delegations! Today, a few of the same, plus many more — including “our” Danza de la Pluma guys (and little gals) from Teotitlán del Valle. The sun is shining and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t rain on today’s parade. By the way, they changed the route this year, beginning in Colonia Reforma and ending at Mercado de La Merced — making it longer AND closing Calle Niños Heroes (Carretera Federal 190 — known in the USA as the Pan American Highway) for more than an hour. Glad I wasn’t stuck in that traffic jam!

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Oaxaca is filling with tourists as “Julio, Mes de la Guelaguetza” (July, month of the Guelaguetza) is upon us — a time when Oaxaca recognizes and celebrates the sixteen indigenous groups whose languages, traditions, and rich cultures long predate the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors (both military and religious) and permeate the character of the state.

San Francisco Sola delegation – Guelaguetza July 28, 2018 desfile

Every year more parades, food and artisan fairs, concerts, and regional Guelaguetzas are added.  Drawing both foreigners and nationals, it has become THE major tourist attraction for Oaxaca. [Click on images to enlarge]

While the streets are filled with a party atmosphere and those who can afford the high-priced tickets are treated to a true spectacle — fabulous views, colorful costumes, music and dance — people question how the indigenous communities (over 50% of the state’s population and some of its poorest) actually benefit.

San Juan Bautista Tuxtepec delegation – Guelaguetza July 21, 2018 desfile

The dancers are not professional dancers, are not paid to perform, and most must travel from villages hours and hours away.

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July 22, 2018 morning

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July 22, 2018 evening

They do it for the love of their villages, pride in their heritage, and to share a little of their traditions with the world outside their communities — and I can’t help but be swept along in the joy and moved by their dedication.

Chinas Oaxaqueñas Genoveva Medina delegation – Guelaguetza July 28, 2018 desfile

To support their communities, I strongly recommend you do your shopping at the craft fairs in the city and visit the indigenous villages — buy directly from the artisans or shops that can show provenance.

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July 29, 2019 morning

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July 29, 2019 evening

The above four Guelaguetza performances, along with Donají, La Leyenda (tragic legend of the love between a Zapotec princess and a Mixtec prince — it doesn’t end well, but her face graces the official shield of the city of Oaxaca de Juárez) are usually shown live on CORTV — both on their television station and their YouTube channel.

Putla Villa de Guerrero delegation – Guelaguetza July 28, 2018 desfile

Friends are arriving and my calendar is rapidly filling. Perhaps I’ll run into you at a regional Guelaguetza, at one of the desfiles in the city, the Festival de los Moles, the Feria de Hongos Silvestres in Cuajimoloyas, the Expo Feria Artesanal, the Feria del Tejate y Tamal, or at any one of the scores of other events happening here in July!

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On my way to the supermarket this morning, look what I came upon in the Plaza de la Danza.  The candidates vying to become Diosa Centéotl, the fertility goddess of corn who presides over July’s Guelaguetza festival, were rehearsing the blocking for this evening’s first stage of the competition.

Down the stairs of the Plaza de la Danza they processed to the solemn sound of the Himno a la Diosa Centéotl.

According to the Secretaría de las Culturas y Artes de Oaxaca (Seculta), this year there are 43 women, all over 18 years old, hoping to be the one selected.

Onto the stage to their assigned seats, where, cued by the director, they each, in turn, practiced walking up to the microphone.

Representing the regions of the state, twelve are from the Central Valleys, eleven from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, six from the Sierra Sur, five from the Mixteca, four from the Papaloapan, four from the Coast, and one from the Cañada.

Accompanied by their shadows, they climbed the stairway to the stars to start all over again.

Tonight’s competition begins at 6:00 PM, when each participant will talk about the myths and legends, gastronomy, traditions, and tourist attractions in their village.  The second stage of the competition begins tomorrow (June 30, 2019) at 11:00 AM.

(ps)  This is not only a venue change, the date of the competition was moved up almost three weeks — perhaps to have Diosa Centéotl preside over more of the Guelaguetza’s ancillary events.

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Given that Oaxaca loves parades and processions (the numbers of Muertos comparsas and Guelaguetza desfiles seem to grow every year), yesterday the 1st Muestra de Carnavales de los Valles Centrales took over the Macedonio Alcalá walking street with costumes, devils, painted bodies, cowbells, bands, masked men, mezcal, and more.

Santa Ana Zegache

Santa Ana Zegache

In an effort to promote tourism in the villages, residents and visitors were treated to sampling the variety of Carnaval traditions from five of the Valley of Oaxaca’s communities.

San Jacinto Chilteca

San Jacinto Chilteca

The Spanish brought the tradition of Carnaval to Mexico.  However, like many other seasonal celebrations, it conveniently coincided with indigenous festivals celebrating the “lost days” of the Mesoamerican calendar, “when faces were covered to repel or confuse evil.”

Santa María Coyotepec

Santa María Coyotepec

Apparently, it caught on “because it was one time when normal rules could be broken especially with the use of masks to hide identities from the authorities.”

Barrio de San Pablo Zaachila

Barrio de San Pablo Zaachila

This Día de Carnaval (aka, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Carnival), like previous years, we will be heading out to San Martín Tilcajete.

San Martín Tilcajete

San Martín Tilcajete

However, now I’m thinking we might want to add another stop (or four?) to our itinerary.  We shall see…

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2019 has been proclaimed the International Year of Indigenous Languages by the United Nations.  The issue of “lenguas maternas” (mother tongues) has a particular resonance in Oaxaca, as the state is home to 16 distinct ethnolinguistic groups:  Amuzgos, Chatino, Chinanteco, Chocho, Chontal, Cuicateco, Huave, Ixcateco, Mazateco, Mixe, Mixteco, Náhuatl, Popoloca, Triqui, Zapoteco, and Zoque.

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As anyone who has visited the villages of Oaxaca has discovered, sometimes the abuelos and abuelas only speak their mother tongue, not Spanish.  To honor and celebrate them, their ancestors, and their children and grandchildren, today on the zócalo, Oaxaca celebrated those languages with songs, poetry, and recitations.

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However, like indigenous languages throughout the world, Mexico’s indigenous languages are in danger of disappearing.  The importance of passing these languages and the world views they express to the younger generations cannot be underestimated.

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Thus here in Oaxaca, on February 21, 2019, Mother Language Day, you can walk The roads of the feathered serpent: revaluing one of the variants of the Zapotec Valley of Oaxaca” and “Meet the Zapotec of Teotitlán through storytelling and other activities!” at the Biblioteca Infantil (Children’s Library). 

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As I write, Diosa Centéotl 2018 is presiding over this year’s first Lunes del Cerro (Mondays on the Hill).  This is corn planting season and the figure of the goddess Centéotl represents the deity to whom rituals were offered to guarantee a good harvest.  She was elected from among 27 young indigenous women, representing the eight regions of the state of Oaxaca.

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The first stage of the competition was held Friday morning at the Jardín del Pañuelito, with contestants speaking about their regions and communities.  During stage two, later in the afternoon, the participants talked about their distinctive clothing.  (For a few photos, check out Of Goddesses and Food.)  The judges, including Las Quince Letras cocinera and ambassador of traditional Oaxaca cooking, Celia Florian (2nd from right), then deliberated.

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Saturday morning the venue moved to the elegant early 20th century Macedonio Alcalá theater where at least 500 people listened as the “Court” of the Diosa Centéotl was announced:  Hillary Naxhiely López (San Blas Atempa), Adriana Ramón Guzmán (de Asunción Ixtaltepec), Yoali Josabet López Quiroz (Santo Domingo Tehuantepec), Socorro Hernández Santiago (Putla Villa de Guerrero), and María del Carmen Vásquez Díaz (Santa María Tlahuitoltepec).

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A beautiful scepter, carved and painted by Jacobo and María Ángeles from San Martín Tilcajete, waited in the wings to be presented to the new Diosa Centéotl.

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And, the winner was… Francisca Pérez Bautista from Santa María Zacatepec.  A member of the Tacuate ethnic group in the Sierra Sur region of Oaxaca, she was wearing the traditional cream-colored huipil with red ribbons and embroidery.  On her head, she wore the customary bowl-shaped jícara head covering made from the fruit of the calabaza tree.

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There was a twenty-minute break in the action — the governor, Alejandro Murat, was delayed in traffic.  In the interim there was much affection and camaraderie displayed among the contestants.  Eventually, he arrived and presented the scepter to Francisca.

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There was no rest for the new Diosa Centéotl.  Her official duties began immediately — a luncheon with the Guelaguetza delegations, followed by leading the desfile of delegations through the city’s streets.

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The United Nations declared November 20 as Universal Children’s Day.  However, that is Día de la Revolución in Mexico, thus April 30 was designated Día del Niño — the day Mexico celebrates her children.  Schools organize parties with games and treats, communities organize special activities, and parents may give their hijas and hijos gifts.

However, one of the features of life in Oaxaca that I appreciate most is the way children are welcomed and are included in all of the celebrations that I have had the privilege of attending — and that’s quite a few!  Enjoy the following photos taken during the past year.  (Click on an image for a full description of the event.)

 

¡Feliz Día del Niño!  And parents everywhere, please remember to “teach your children well.”

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What can I say?  Lately, I have been having way too much fun to blog.  A Gran Convite on Tuesday evening kicked off the festivities celebrating Oaxaca’s 486 birthday and inviting one and all to the previously mentioned, 2nd Encuentro de Cocineras Tradicionales de Oaxaca opening the following day.  Beginning at the Cruz de la Piedra, the parade came to a sparkling climax in front of the Cathedral.

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Wednesday began with an early morning ringing of the Cathedral’s bells (and several other churches, I’m pretty sure) and the booms and bangs of cohetes announcing Oaxaca’s official birthday.  Then the event that I had been hungrily awaiting — the opening of the four-day gathering of Oaxaca’s traditional cooks at the Plaza de la Danza.  It was worth the wait!

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Mixtec ritual of Aromas y Sabores del Alma using basil and rosemary to open Encuentro de Cocineras Tradicionales de Oaxaca.

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Machacado mixe, Caldo mixe from Santa María Tlahuitoltepec in the Sierra Norte.

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Chileajo amarillo from Huayuapan de León in the Mixteca.

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Ingredients on display by Carina Santiago of Tierra Antigua restaurant in Teotitlán del Valle, in Oaxaca’s Valles Centrales.

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Cochino a la cubana from the Papaloapan region of Oaxaca being served by cocinera Rosario Cruz Cobos.

There is also an expo-venta of Oaxacan artesanía at the Palacio Municipal adjacent to the Plaza de la Danza.

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Some of the best red clay pottery from San Marcos Tlapazola for sale.

I took yesterday off to do my volunteer gig at the Oaxaca Lending Library, but I’m returning to the Encuentro today, right after I post this.  My stomach is already rumbling!

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It’s been all about boys in my family — two sons, a stepson, and a grandson.  That is, until eleven months ago when finally a girl — my granddaughter — made her much welcomed entrance into the world.  Of course she is adorable, but so were her brother, dad, and uncles.  However, I must admit that clothes shopping for a little girl is so much more fun, especially here in Oaxaca.

Naturally, I had to go to the current Museo Textil de Oaxaca exhibition, Vestir hijos con amor (Dressing children with love) — very timely for the upcoming Día del Niño on April 30

Cotton baby hat – probably Santiago Mexquititlán, Querétaro, Mexico (c. 1960) Otomí village.

Woven baby hat – San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala (c. 1990s) Tz’utuoil community.

The curator’s note explains that the textiles shown “are not the sumptuous accoutrements of an ancient aristocracy, but children’s clothing of the poorest people in Mexico and Guatemala… made of cotton and wool.”

Girl’s huipil from Palín, Guatemala (c. 1980s). Community speaks Pokomam, a Mayan language.

Girl’s huipil from San Bartolomé Ayautla, Oaxaca, Mexico. (c. 1950s) Mazateco community.

“In setting up this exhibit, we have tried to show how textiles intended for children make visible the love felt for them by the first nations of this land.”

Girl’s clothing from Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, Mexico. (c. 1940s) Purépecha village.

Costume of baptism – Chachahuantla, Puebla, Mexico (1999-2017) Community speaks Náhuatl.

Venustiano Carranza, Chiapas, Mexico (c. 1950s). Tsotsil village.

Huipil of black velvet with cotton embroidery from districts of Juchitán and Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico. (c. 1950-1960) Zapotec communities.

Villa Hidalgo Yalálag, Oaxaca, Mexico (c. 1990). Zapotec village.

Villa Hidalgo Yalálag, Oaxaca, Mexico (c. 1990). Zapotec village. Embroidery detail using rayon threads.

It isn’t just the girls who are dressed with love in these indigenous communities.  The clothing of the boys is also just as lovingly detailed and decorated.

Boy’s clothing from San Andrés Tzicuilan, Puebla, Mexico. (c. 1988-1993) Community speaks Náhuatl.

Boy’s clothing from Santiago Ixtayutla, Oaxaca, Mexico. (c. 1990s) Mixtec village.

(R) Boy’s clothing from Venustiano Carranza, Chiapas, Mexico. (c. 1950s). Tsotsil village. (L) Teen boy’s clothing from Sierra Madre Occidental to the north of Jalisco and east of Nayarit. (c. 1930s) Wixárika (Huichol) community.

Detail from teen boy’s clothing from Sierra Madre Occidental to the north of Jalisco and east of Nayarit. (c. 1930s) Wixárika (Huichol) community.

There are so many more pieces to see and there is even an interactive component for children — a play area where they can assemble and decorate textile pieces.  The Museo Textil de Oaxaca is located at Hidalgo 917, at the corner of Fiallo and the exhibition, in the Caracol room, runs until July 1, 2018.

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Día de Carnaval (aka, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Carnival), a day to let the good times roll before the sacrifices of the Lenten season, has come and gone.  And, again, blogger buddy Chris and I headed out to the surreal celebration in San Martín Tilcajete.  Driving into the village, one soon hears, rather than sees, that this isn’t a normal day in this wood carving village 17 miles south of the city — the streets are alive with the sound of cow bells.  Roaming the dirt back roads and paved main street, los encabezados (guys covered in motor oil or paint) come running past — with cow bells tied around their waist — making mischief and startling the unaware.

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Masks, all the better to hide one’s identity when making fun of the powers that be, are an international carnaval tradition.  Thus, in this village, known for its fantastically painted wood carvings, wooden masks play a big role in the celebration — including several by our friend Jesus Sosa Calvo and his family at Matlacihua Arte.

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This is a town where creativity reigns supreme and the costumes seem to get more whimsical and weirder every year.

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Oh, and did I mention there is a wedding?  Well, actually a parody of a traditional village wedding.  There is much pomp and circumstance, hilarity, and music — not to mention, breakfast and lunch for wedding guests — as participants move from the house of the mayor, to the home of the bride, and to City Hall for the civil ceremony.  Dancing in the plaza follows and then, at some predetermined time, there is a procession through the streets before arriving at another house where the happy “couple” kneel before “priest” for the religious ceremony.

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And, you might want to take a second look at those beautiful wedding guests with the smoldering eyes and modeling the gorgeous gowns.  They are not what they seem — and that includes the bride.

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The Spanish brought the Carnaval tradition to Mexico because, like many other seasonal celebrations, it conveniently coincided with indigenous festivals celebrating the “lost days” of the Mesoamerican calendar, “when faces were covered to repel or confuse evil.”  Evidently it caught on, “because it was one time when normal rules could be broken…”  And, San Martín Tilcajete certainly knows how!!!

By the way, many from the creative team of the movie Coco came to enjoy the festivities and renew acquaintances in this town that provided the inspiration for the alebrijes in the film.  “De Oaxaca tomamos los alebrijes, la celebración del Día de los Muertos, toda esa energía y colores están en los paisajes de la película. Quise ser lo más fiel en esta investi­gación y plasmarlo en la cin­ta…”  (“From Oaxaca we take the alebrijes, the celebration of the Day of the Dead, all the energy and colors are in the landscapes of the film…”) (NVI Noticias, 2/14/2018)

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The Guelaguetza Muy Especial, danced by Los Ángeles de Luz, gets bigger every year.

Convite – China Oaxaqueñas, City of Oaxaca

Early yesterday evening, all seating was filled and it was standing room only at the Plaza de la Danza — and that is a very good thing because Los Ángeles de Luz is group of 18 children and young people with Down’s Syndrome.

Jarabe – Ejutla de Crespo, Valles Centrales region

It was formed in 2003 with the purpose of facilitating the integration of people with Down’s syndrome and offering them creative experiences that exercise their motor skills, intelligence, language, and sensitivity in an environment of respect, trust, and love. (Ángeles le dan luz a las fiestas del Lunes del Cerro, 07/25/2016)

Jarabe – Tamazulapam Espiritu Santo, Mixe region

Their talents also extend to theatrical productions, including performances of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and “Romeo and Juliet.”  In addition, they have mounted an interdisciplinary spectacular, “Ellos le bailan a México, a un México muy especial.”

Wedding jarabe – Huautla de Jiménez, Cañada region

At the Guelaguetza Muy Especial, these young people make the requisite costume changes and perform traditional dances from the eight regions of Oaxaca.

Jarabe – San Melchor Betaza, Sierra Norte region

This year’s show brought Oaxaca’s dignitaries, including Diosa Centeotl, Rebeca Itahí Ortiz Santibañez — she looked incredibly moved when they performed dances from her town of San Melchor Betaza.

Rebeca Itahí Ortiz Santibañez – Diosa Centeotl 2017

As I have mentioned before, perhaps it is because I have a special needs nephew or that both my sister-in-law and daughter-in-law are special education teachers, that I am drawn to this event every year.

Jarabe – Pinotepa Nacional, Costa region

Tears always well up in my eyes as I share in the joy and pride exhibited by the dancers from Los Ángeles de Luz.

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On Friday, Diosa Centéotl was selected to reign over the Guelaguetza festivities.  The eight regions of the state of Oaxaca were all represented by the 33 contestants competing for the honor.  (My photos of each of the contestants are from the morning phase of the competition.)

First a little history…  According to the pamphlet that was distributed to the hundreds of locals, family and friends of contestants, and tourists attending the competition at Jardín el Pañuelito, the little “pocket” garden along the side of Santo Domingo de Guzmán:

“In the pre-Hispanic worldview, Goddess Centéotl possessed the divine power to germinate corn and all the plants of the milpa:  tomato, squash, chile, quelites, beans, and other vegetables that constituted the Mesoamerican diet….”

“For that reason, prayers, dances, music and flowers were offered in each planting cycle…”

“[Later] the relationship between peoples, nature and the gods was manifested through a liturgical calendar carried out with much scrupulousness by both priests and the common people, for the survival of all was at stake, since a failed crop condemned them to famine, disease and moral suffering.”

“By contrast, an abundant harvest filled the people with happiness and they understood that the Goddess of Fertility – Centéotl – had listened to their requests.”  — my translation from the Spanish

The competition to be Diosa Centéotl is not a Miss Universe/Miss America style beauty pageant.  Dressed in the typical costumes of their villages or neighborhoods, these young women had to communicate their knowledge of their communities. They were required to give two 4-minute oral presentations in front of five judges:  Jorge Bueno Sánchez (city chronicler), Celia Florián (chef/owner of Las Quince Letras), María Concepción Villalobos (coauthor of Centéotl en los Lunes del Cerro), María Concepción Guzmán Concha (textile expert), and Claudio Sánchez Islas (writer and journalist).

In the morning session of the competition, each was required to speak about their traditional cuisine, crafts, festivals, customs, myths and legends, or tourist attractions. During the afternoon stage, each had to discuss the history, composition, elaboration, and utility of their costumes.  In addition, as Oaxaca has sixteen distinct ethnolinguistic groups, contestants from the various indigenous communities spoke several lines in their materna lengua (mother tongue).

It is in the dignity, pride, and poise expressed by each of the contestants where we see the essence of their beauty expressed.  And the winner is…

Rebeca Itahí Ortiz Santibañez, San Melchor Betaza

Rebeca Itahí Ortiz Santibañez, from San Melchor Betaza in the Sierra Norte region of the state.  At being selected she exclaimed, “Doxhkenho dazhan” —  Muchas gracias in Zapoteco.

(ps)  If anyone has or can find a list of all the contestants, I would really love to add their names and communities to each photo.  I think they all deserve to be recognized.

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Despite 2000 miles between here and there, similarities abound between the two places I call home.

Art on walls.  (Left) A massive new mural in Mill Valley, above the side wall of the Sequoia Theater, by Zio Ziegler.  (Right)  One of the many murals by Sanez (Fabián Calderón Sánchez) in Oaxaca.  By the way, I’ve previously posted murals by both artists:  click Sanez and/or Zio Ziegler.

Agave.  (Left) Of course in Mill Valley (California), it’s solely ornamental for those meticulously landscaped gardens.   (R) Whereas in Oaxaca, it’s vital crop — land without agave means life without mezcal!

Fluttering swags of flags.  (Left) Cloth Tibetan prayer flags flying outside the 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley welcome patrons to the Mountainfilm festival.  (Right) Ubiquitous papel picado found inside and out in Oaxaca, in paper or plastic, for events special or just because.

Sacred mountains.  (Left) Mt. Tamalpais, the Sleeping Lady and mountain of my childhood dreams, teen driving lessons, and adult peace, joy, and renewal.  (Right) Cerro Picacho (in Zapoteco, Quie Guia Betz), brother/sister mountain — the sacred mountain in Teotitlán del Valle, where, among other times, villagers make a pilgrimage to the top on Día de la Santa Cruz (Day of the Holy Cross).

And, last but not least, colorfully costumed couples.  (Left) Soon after arriving at the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival, I ran into this twosome.  Turns out, in the “it’s a small world” universe, they are actually friends of a couple I know in San Miguel de Allende.  (Right) During July’s Guelaguetza in Oaxaca, the delegation from Putla de Guerrero representing their celebration of Carnaval, is garish and gaudy and wild and wacky — in other words, fantastic!

Creativity is a challenge. It requires us to be fully human — autonomous yet engaged, independent yet interdependent. Creativity bridges the conflict between our individualistic and our sociality. It celebrates the commonality of our species while simultaneously setting us apart as unique individuals.  —Greg Graffin

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