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Posts Tagged ‘murals’

After three weeks in el norte, all my bags are packed and I’m ready to return to Oaxaca.  While malls and supermarkets abound here in the San Francisco Bay Area, shopping doesn’t hold a candle to experiencing the Sunday market in Tlacolula de Matamoros.

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Sidewalk murals greet shoppers on their way to the mercado.

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Wearing traditional skirts, blouses, rebozos, and aprons, vendors compete for customers.

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Stopping inside the mercado for barbacoa de chivo is a delicious way to take a break.

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The apron selection, like everything else, is mind boggling!

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Lastly, another sidewalk mural to send shoppers on their way home.

There is nothing like the life and color of shopping in Oaxaca.  ¡Hasta pronto!

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A day late, but not a dollar short, I finally made my way to the San Francisco Bay Area a week and a half ago.  The days have been filled with family, friends, and appointments. However, today there was nothing on the agenda, I was worn out from all the activities, and baby it was cold outside.  Thus, time to look back through photos earmarked for blog posts that had gone unwritten.

Leaving San Pablo Villa de Mitla after shopping for Pan de Muertos during Day of the Dead, we took a different route out of town and discovered a gymnasium with murals on the walls, both outside…

… and inside.  Traditional, political, and colorful imagery to inspire playing your best!

You just never know what you will find when you take the road less traveled.

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Walls of murals may be welcomed and encouraged in Tlacolula de Matamoros and Villa de Zaachila but, alas, such is not the case in the city of Oaxaca.  Remember the image on my Surfin’ safari post in September?

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Calle de Ignacio Allende at the corner of Tinoco y Palacios

And it wasn’t even finished — it is even more impressive now!

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However, do you see the two sheets of paper defacing the mural?

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Here we go again…  Like Color and culture, unwelcome and Lapiztola’s incredibly moving mural on the side of Museo Belber Jimenez, the authorities have declared this wonderful piece of art did not have their permission and will, most probably, be painted over.  Don’t they have more pressing problems to deal with?  Hint:  The multiple buildings “en mal estado” scattered throughout the Historic District that are in danger of collapsing onto pedestrians and drivers.

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Last week in Tlacolula, as friends and I were studying the “¡Solo Dios perdona!” mural by the Tlacolulokos collective, the storekeeper next door advised us that if we liked that one, we should check out another spectacular Tlacolulokos mural a few blocks away.  So we did.

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He was right — it was indeed stunning in SO many ways!  We came face-to-face with three strong, proud, and beautiful Zapotec women of Tlacolula wearing their stories.

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There was the traditional white blouse with its crocheted yolk, the black and white rebozo twisted into a head covering, and there were the prized gold and pearl earrings.

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But, so too were the tattoos of iconic Catholic imagery of Virgen María and Jésus wearing his crown of thorns juxtaposed with pre-Conquest grecas of Mitla, a Spanish galleon, and the heart-dagger of betrayal.  This is one powerful mural!  And, the story doesn’t end here in Oaxaca.

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It is estimated that 250,000 Zapotecs live in the greater Los Angeles area — “making it the largest concentration of Oaxacans outside of Oaxaca thus earning its unofficial title among Oaxacan in the United States as Oaxacalifornia.”  (The Voice of Indigenous Resistance in Oaxacalifornia)  Thus it was appropriate that Cosijoesa Cernas and Dario Canul of the Tlacolulokos collective were invited to create eight massive murals, “Visualizing Language: Oaxaca in L.A” for an exhibition at the Los Angeles Public Library.  They hang “below murals by Dean Cornwell, whose depictions of California’s history, completed in 1933, ignore Native Californian cultures and ‘fail to recognize the suffering of native peoples during the European conquest, as well as their exclusion from society…'” (New Murals Celebrate the Culture of Oaxaca in L.A.)

The murals at the Downtown Central Library in Los Angeles will be on exhibit in the library’s rotunda until January 31, 2018.

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The transportation workers of the CTM (Confederación de Trabajadores de México) pretty much shut down main roads into and out of the city on Tuesday (just ask blogger buddy Chris) and Sección XXII of the teachers’ union yesterday blocked streets, today picketed government offices, and are now moving full force into the zócalo and surrounding streets.

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Sigh, but don’t cry for Oaxaca.  Ten thousand years of history, this valley and her people will survive.  Listen and watch Lila Downs sing La Martiniana and remember its words

Porque si lloras yo peno,
en cambio si tú me cantas, mi vida,
yo siempre vivo, yo nunca muero.
~~~
Because if you cry, I’ll be filled with sorrow
Instead, if you sing to me
I will live forever, I’ll never die.

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Día de Muertos is coming…

That means the departed will soon return to eat, drink, and be merry with their living loved ones.

Due to earthquake damage the Panteón General in the city is closed, but the traditional evening of the dead will take place at the Panteón Xochimilco.

As the schedule of over 100 cultural activities (between October 28 and November 4) states, despite earthquakes and hurricanes, “Oaxaca is more alive than ever!”

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I can’t believe it has been three years since 43 student teachers went missing one night in Iguala, Guerrero.  And, I can’t believe the key questions remain.

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Who is responsible?  What happened that night?  Where are they?  Why are there still no answers?  How can 43 human beings be disappeared so completely?  When will the truth be revealed?

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In the midst of our current tragedies, let us not forget the 43 normalistas from Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos, Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.

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Three years without answers must seem like an eternity to their families….

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Here in Oaxaca we continue surfing the temblors and tormentas…

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Calle de Ignacio Allende at the corner of Tinoco y Palacios

Torrential downpours and flooding have returned.  Aftershocks from the September 7 earthquake continue.  But, aside from difficulty navigating the flooding and potholes, suffering from frayed nerves, and being worried sick about friends and family in the critically affected areas of central and southern Mexico, we are okay in the city and surrounding villages.

Re geography:  Oaxaca is the name of both a state and its capital city.  The epicenter of the September 7th earthquake in Oaxaca was in the southeast part of the state — as the crow flies, it is almost 150 miles and through the Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range from Oaxaca city.   To see where Oaxaca’s earthquakes are happening, check out Earthquake Track.

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Oaxaca continues to be inundated with rain.  I’m in Colorado now (inhaling smoke from fires throughout the west), but friends in Oaxaca are describing flooding, leaking roofs, water coming through windows and doors, and rain without end. Today’s news is reporting more than 13 communities are incommunicado and that urban development is a major cause of flooding by the Atoyac River that runs through the valley of Oaxaca.

Perhaps there are lessons to be learned from the builders of Monte Albán, where the Pre-Hispanic drainage works better than current systems.

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On day three of B’s week in Oaxaca, Benito (Discover Oaxaca) returned to pick us up a little after 9:00 AM.  We wound our way up to the archeological site, Monte Albán — the imposing former capital of the Zapotecs.  Construction of this commanding site, on top of an artificially flattened mountain, began around 500 B.C.  By 350-550 A.D., it had become the economic, political, and religious center for the Zapotecs, and one of the first urban complexes in Mesoamerica.  Though we were only there for two hours, I learned more from Benito than I had on my previous five or six unguided visits.  While we were there, a specially fitted drone (archaeocopter) was being used by archaeologists — the sound was annoying, but once we figured out it was for research, it became more tolerable and rather intriguing.  There is still so much to be uncovered!

Monte Albán – looking down onto the main plaza.

Coming down off the mountain, we took the scenic route, circling around the western base of Monte Albán, often bouncing along on dirt roads as we headed south to the Ex-monastery of Santiago Apóstol in Cuilapam de Guerrero.  Construction began on this massive and elaborate Dominican complex in 1556 but was temporarily halted in the 1570s and never resumed — leaving behind a towering roofless basilica, ornate frescoes, and a magnificent Gothic cloister.  There are several theories as to why it was never finished — lack of funds due to the extravagance, a dispute over land ownership, the decimation of the local indigenous population from 43,000 in the 1520s down to 7,000 in 1600, leaving few workers to construct it and natives left to convert.  Climbing the stairs up to the second story terrace yields an impressive view and site from which to contemplate the impact of the Spanish conquest.

Murals inside the Ex-monastery of Santiago Apóstol, Cuilapam de Guerrero.

After an hour of roaming through the unfinished remains of the Ex-monastery, we returned to the van for the 4-mile drive to Villa de Zaachila.  Thursday is market day and the village was alive with shoppers.  From where we parked, we walked through the market, with B marveling at all there was for sale — from fresh fruits and vegetables to tools and kitchen ware to clothing and needlework to…. And, we never even made it to the livestock market.

Moto taxis taking people to and from the tianguis on market day in Villa de Zaachila.

Once through the market, we walked past the church and up a hill to the small archaeological site of the last capital of the Zapotecs and later conquered by the Mixtecs, not long before the Spanish arrived.  It is mostly unexcavated, but has two small tombs that can be accessed.

Tomb 1 – The Owl (Tecolote, Búho) of Zaachila.

We were about to head to lunch, when we were waylaid by Benito’s inquiry if we knew about and would like to see the Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) murals decorating the walls of Calle Coquiza — a street that connects the church with the municipal cemetery.  Of course we responded that we would love to see them!  If you are in Zaachila, they are worth checking out.  You can see more of the murals on my blog post, Muertos murals in Zaachila.

Muertos mural along Calle Coquiza, Villa de Zaachila.

We were starving by the time we had walked the length and back of Calle Coquiza, so we made a beeline for the van that would take us to Restaurante La Capilla de Zaachila.  It felt so good to sit, relax, and eat!

Tortilla Zachileña de guisado al horno.

It was a fairly quiet return to the city — we were satiated by food, sights, and information.  However, following a few hours of rest, B and I met up again to stroll down to the zócalo, sip mezcal on rooftop terrace of Casa Crespo  — though the music was a bit loud, the mezcal was good and the view of Santo Domingo couldn’t be beat.

By the way, this day’s travels took us to many of the major sites where the legend of Donaji takes place.

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One of the great things about having friends come to visit, is going places and doing things not on the usual agenda.  Thus, last week, while accompanying my friend B on a private tour of sights outside Oaxaca city, the guide asked if we knew about the Muertos murals in Villa de Zaachila and would we like to see them.  Absolutely, we said!

In late October, prior to Día de Muertos, young artists are invited to paint Day of the Dead related murals on the walls of Calle Coquiza, the street that connects the church, Santa María Natividad, to the municipal cemetery.  Customs, beliefs, and legends provide the inspiration, as well as day-to-day activities.

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Flor de Piña dancers welcome residents and visitors to step through the doorway to the land beyond.

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Where electric meters serve as faces.

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And, telephone poles add a third dimension to the design.

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Painted pitchers and candles nestle in vegetation escaping from under a portón.

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And, a dancer frolics in sand waiting to be mixed into concrete for construction next door.

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Skeletons use an electric meter to get a leg up in climbing the conduit.

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Trees provide shade, as Pan de Muertos is baked in an outdoor oven.

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Leaves flutter above, as Bu’pu del Valle (chocolate atole) is frothed with a molinillo before being served in traditional hand-painted jicaras.

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Flowers tumble over the wall to adorn a catrina portrait’s hat.

The murals along the walls of Calle Coquiza remain throughout the year — until replaced by the next Día de Muertos artists’ offerings.  In addition, during Day of the Dead, this Calzada de los Muertos (Road of the Dead) is paved with sand paintings.  It is definitely going on my Muertos “must see” itinerary.

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It’s good to be back in Oaxaca — land of mezcal.  Even the walls sing its praises.

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And, they are not alone — so does National Geographic, with their article, A Mezcal Boom Spurs Creativity.

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The walls of Oaxaca are speaking…

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No comment necessary.

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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…

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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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