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Posts Tagged ‘murals’

The walls of Oaxaca are speaking…

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I’m still on the East Coast, now outside of Boston.  It’s cold (not freezing, thank goodness), dark by 4:30 PM, and colors are bland.  Today, as we dashed down an alley, dodging raindrops, from parking lot to restaurant, I caught a brief glimpse of a mural on the side of a building, but it seemed rather lackluster compared to the walls of Oaxaca.

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Calle de Tinoco y Palacios, Oaxaca de Juárez — Oct. 31, 2016

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Calle de Ignacio López Rayón, Oaxaca de Juárez — Nov. 9, 2016

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Emiliano Zapata (corner of I. López Rayón), Oaxaca de Juárez — Nov. 9, 2016

While I LOVE (I think that’s what the last one says) seeing my family and appreciate (more than a little) paper towels that don’t disintegrate, drinking water from the tap, and plumbing that can handle toilet paper, I’m homesick for Oaxaca.  Soon!

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Street art in Oaxaca comes, goes, and appears anew…

p1220634After being away for a month…

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New art greeted me on the walls and poles of Calle de Tinoco y Palacios…

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As I made my way up the hill on Monday’s grocery shopping trip to the Mercado Sánchez Pascuas…

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One of the delights Oaxaca brings to the mundane…

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And, being car-less, one of the joys of errand walking!

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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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For ten years, since the 2006 teacher uprising in Oaxaca, with scissors, paper, paint, and talent, the Lapiztola collective has been cutting through propaganda and meaningless phrases to lead, provoke, and inspire with their art.  Looking across the Alcalá from Santo Domingo, a new stenciled mural in front the Instituto de Artes Gráficas de Oaxaca (IAGO) caught my eye…

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There she was, beckoning, much like the beautiful and haunting mural, We sow dreams and harvest hope on the Tinoco y Palacios wall of Museo Belber Jimenez (before it, along with others, was unceremoniously ordered removed by the city government).  Another mural by Colectivo Lapiztola.

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The symbolism of the corn, the bandana, and a young indigenous girl is rich in the layers of rebellion and resistance of modern-day Oaxaca.  And so I went up the stairs of IAGO and into the courtyard where Benito Juárez presided over the entrance to the exhibit, Corte Aquí (Cut Here), by the Lapiztola collective.

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Lapiztola consists of three artists:  Rosario Martínez, Yankel Balderas, and Roberto Vega.  This small exhibit (3 stencils and 7 graphic works), with its larger-than-life images, covers three rooms and stimulates our hearts and our minds.

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Over the past ten years, as the exhibition demonstrates, Lapiztola has taken on the issues of social protest, disappearances, the protection of natural resources, and drug-trafficking — the latter, as evidenced below.

Also included, is one of the first Lapiztola images that fascinated me.  It covered the front of the Espacio Zapata in 2012 and speaks volumes about modern society.

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If you go to the exhibition, don’t miss the third room; in it hangs the three massive stencils (below) used to produce the brilliant mural I named the Art of Agave, celebrating the human face of agave cultivation.  It once educated and enlivened the wall of Piedra Lumbre on Tinoco y Palacios, before it, too, was painted over.

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I’m not sure how long the exhibition will last.  However, if you are in Oaxaca, I encourage you to pay it a visit and to all, when you are in Oaxaca, make sure to pay attention to the walls — they have something tell you.

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A pause in the Guelaguetza action…

I was last on Callejón de Hidalgo about a month and a half ago and a new (to me) mural charmed me.  I’ve been meaning to post photos, but there has been way too much going on and they got lost in the pictures shuffle.

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Murals are usually a “no-go-zone” for graffiti.  However, yesterday, walking with friends, I again found myself on that lovely little lane, but was dismayed to discover someone(s) had tagged Peter Cottontail and his tree-lined neighborhood with graffiti.

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I don’t know who you are, Mainy-Dauer, but I want you to know your mural made be smile.

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I’m glad I have the above photos to remember it by.

 

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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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Back in Oaxaca… I don’t know the story of this mural that recently appeared at the corner of Allende and Tinoco y Palacios.  However, on this Mother’s Day (in the US), it seems appropriate.

A mother’s eye is always watching…

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A pause in the Cuba coverage to echo Dorothy, “There’s no place like home” — especially if that home is Oaxaca.  I needed (yes, needed!) chocolate and coffee and, thus, headed toward the Benito Juárez and 20 de noviembre mercados.  As always, even just a grocery shopping trip is a feast for the senses.

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First, a calenda on Calle Independencia of students, academics, and workers to launch the registration of candidates for rector of Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca (UAJBO).

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A peek into el pasillo de las carnes asadas (ahhh, the smells) in 20 de noviembre mercado, while waiting for my chocolate guy to finish with other customers.

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A look at the finished murals (and merchandise) in a newly opened shop at Calle Macedonia Alcalá 100.

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Stopping to gaze up at the “Aves Sin Paraíso” exhibition above the Alcalá.

 

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Almost back to Casita Colibrí, a new stencil at the corner of Morelos and Tinoco y Palacios.

By the way, I got the chocolate, but couldn’t find my coffee guy in the maze of temporary stalls set up on the streets surrounding the Benito Juárez mercado (it’s undergoing a much-needed renovation).  There’s always mañana — I’m not completely out, yet.

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In Oaxaca city…

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In Tlacolula de Matamoros…

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They are seen and they are watching.

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In the category of “your just never know,” the two-block long Callejón de Hidalgo is a treasure-trove of murals.

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And, there are more!  Located between Tinoco y Palacios and Porfirio Diaz above Calle Jesus Carranza, it’s well worth the trek up the hill.

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Artist Fabián Calderón Sánchez (aka, Sanez) has changed the face of the building next to Hotel Azucenas again!

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Located on calle Martiniano Aranda, in the 6-1/2 years I’ve lived in the ‘hood, the front of this building has played host to two previous murals by Sanez.

I’ve been a big fan of his distinctive work and was again captivated by his  creative and powerful use of indigenous imagery.

The mural is signed,  Macuilxochitl Losdelaefe — MTY (Monterrey) – OAX (Oaxaca) – GDL (Guadalajara) – www.sanez.mx – 2015.

Let us hope this doesn’t meet the same fate as other murals in my neighborhood recently have.

 

 

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She’s gone…

P1090814_copyAs feared, by order of the government, the beautiful and moving mural by Lapiztola, on the side of Museo Belber Jimenez, has been erased.

P1140922copyOnly her ghost remains.

P1140920 copyI miss her, too.  Color and culture, indeed, seem to be unwelcome.

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Before a “suspendida” order is slapped on this stunning piece by the Lapiztola collective celebrating the human face of agave cultivation, here is another moving work of art for the people, seen on Tinoco y Palacio on the wall of Piedra Lumbre, near the Sanchez Pascuas mercado.  It tells a story…

P1140381The wisdom of cultivation handed down from generation to generation.

P1140382From the agave comes mezcal.

P1140382lgThere are 199 “recognized” species of agave.  How many can be used to make mezcal?  The Mezcal PhD explores the answer.  And, for an illustrated guide to many of the more popular varietals, click The Many Varieties of Mezcal.

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As many of you already know, one of my favorite things about living and being in Oaxaca is, you just never know what you will stumble across.  Rounding a corner, one might come upon a calenda (parade) with band, marmotas, monos, and dancers; a street artist or payaso (clown) entertaining a gathering of nin@s to abuel@s; street art; or a newly opened store.

So (no surprise), a few months ago, walking up Tinoco y Palacios enroute to the Sanchez Pascuas mercado (in need of a few staples like quesillo, aguacates, and tamales), a stunning new mural caught my eye.P1120515Positioned to entice potential customers into Color y Cultura, a newly opened artisan community shop, the mural is the work of Chiquitraca Colectivo from Juchitán.  It worked, I was hooked, and later returned to browse and eventually buy a pair of earrings carved from a gourd.  However, during a return trip to the mercado, I was rather shocked to see unsightly papers defacing the mural.

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Usually, street murals are “hands off” zones for vandalism.  However, closer inspection revealed official notices declaring, “Suspendida” (suspended) and going on to say that the mural violates regulations on the conservation of the historic district.

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And, if this weren’t egregious enough, remember the stunning We sow dreams and harvest hope mural on the side of Museo Belber Jimenez?

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It too now has appalling “Suspendida” notices plastered on it.  WTF is going on???  A little research revealed that a law was recently passed to “criminalize” wall art.  Yes, yes, yes… I understand that the “powers that be” and even ordinary residents are sick of graffiti on historic buildings.  BUT to lump the anarchist “A” spray-painted on the side of the Cathedral with magnificent murals painted on ugly decaying walls and beautiful works of art privately commissioned by businesses and museums to decorate their buildings, is the height of absurdity, never mind assigning a “criminal” aspect to it.  Believe me, Oaxaca has a laundry list of more important issues that it needs to address.

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If in their “infinite wisdom” they are attempting to “clean up” the city to better appeal to tourist dollars, euros, yen, etc., then I think they are barking up the wrong tree — we extranjeros (foreigners) love the street art!  To that end, below is a copy of a letter I sent to the president of Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) last year, when officially authorized murals painted by art students as part of their course work were ordered removed by the university administration.

Dear President Miller:

I am writing to you from the city of Oaxaca de Juárez in southern Mexico, nestled in the valley where corn was first cultivated.  I have the privilege of living in culture that has a deep respect for, and appreciation of, communication through all forms of art.

Oaxaca is filled with museums and public art.  In addition, her walls are covered with murals, both officially sanctioned and unauthorized.  An example of the latter:  My current neighbor, previously lived next to a concrete bench built into a wall along her street.  It’s primary function seemed to serve as a gathering place for garbage and graffiti.  Being an artist, she painted a living room scene around the bench, replete with, a lamp, bouquets of flowers, pillows on the sofa/bench, and a framed painting with the image of a smiling creature holding a sign that quotes Oaxaca’s favorite son and former Mexican president, Benito Juárez:  “El respecto al derecho ajeno es la paz.”  (Respect for the rights of others is peace.)  It is a quote that every Mexican school child learns and in the eighteen years since the bench and mural were first painted, it has become a beloved icon of the street and very little graffiti and garbage have reappeared.

Oaxaca would lose much of her character and lessons would be lost, if we were to wake one morning and find all her murals disappeared.  The story is the same at CCSU and it would be shameful if the beautiful and thought-provoking student murals at CCSU were to be needlessly destroyed.

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