Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’

In Oaxaca, murals, stencils, and other forms of street art are ubiquitous — and often with cultural and political themes.

The same is true for San Francisco and her neighboring cities of Oakland and San Jose — primarily thanks to significant populations of color and the cultural expressions they bring.

However, in my white-bread hometown of Mill Valley, it’s only in the past several years that murals have begun popping up and they have seldom addressed social and political issues — until now.

In response to the killing of George Floyd and a controversy in the town regarding the tone-deaf attitude toward the Black Lives Matter movement and its own issues of racial discrimination and profiling, artist Wesley Cabral painted these two murals which now adorn a prominent wall in downtown Mill Valley.

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It’s been a wonderful Bay Area visit, but Saturday at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass the performance by Los Cenzontles with Max and Josh Baca of Los Texmaniacs brought a wave of homesickness for Mexico.

Guess it’s time for me to go…  Next stop, Mexico City!

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Tonight, from the valley where corn was first cultivated, I’ll be watching my San Francisco Giants play game one of Major League Baseball’s, 2014 World Series.

I was amazed to discover that one of San Francisco’s ace relief pitchers, Yusmeiro Petit, the Giants’ do-everything man, played for the Oaxaca Guerreros in 2011!!!   The Guerreros, a Triple-A team in the Mexican League play at Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos, within walking distance (albeit, a long walk) from my apartment.  I attended several of the Guerreros’ games in 2011 and, who knows, maybe I saw him.

When I was in Mexico, I always said to myself, “This is going to be my goal, to go back to the United States and be successful,” said Petit, through a translator. “I always knew that this could happen. I didn’t know how it was going to happen, but I knew this could happen.”  (from article, Giants’ do-everything man Petit ready for any task)

 (AP Photo/Don Boomer, File)

(AP Photo/Don Boomer, File)

And, from another article:

Petit thinks his experience with the Oaxaca Warriors was crucial in his career surge.   In Mexico he learned to mix his pitches and mastered the curve.  “I was in a slump, which happens to anyone,” he said. “But in Mexico I learned that I had to work harder to keep going and to reach what I was looking for, which was to come back (to the majors) and stay here.”

¡Felicidades Yusmeiro Petit y vamos Gigantes!


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One of the things I always notice when in El Norte this time of year is the longer length of the day — and today it’s at its longest.  Light came through the curtains to wake me at 5:45 AM and the sun won’t dip behind Mt. Tamalpais and into the Pacific until 8:30 PM.  The further north one goes, the longer this day lasts.  Of course, the reverse is true in the winter.  No wonder the Summer Solstice is such a big deal in the northern latitudes!

As much as I miss Oaxaca, this really has been a spectacular spring in the Bay Area — perfect for strolling along the San Francisco Embarcadero with a Oaxaca buddy.

The City By the Bay at her best!

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It may not be Oaxaca, but there is some major league urban art celebrating Major League Baseball’s 2012 World Series champion, San Francisco Giants.  The mural, by the Ex-Vandals, currently can be seen at Columbus at Union Street in San Francisco’s, North Beach neighborhood.

But, did the city’s Planning Commission have to deface the mural with its Notice of Public Hearing?  Couldn’t they have posted their notice in a more discrete location?  Honestly, have they no respect?!!

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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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As hoped, I managed to make my way to the Mexican Consulate in San Francisco for .  It’s the exhibit (I mentioned a few days ago) that celebrates the Zapotec artists of Oaxaca from Rufino Tamayo and Francisco Toledo to those they encouraged and influenced.

On the consulate’s ground floor the scene was a familiar one — signage and conversations en español; the eagle, serpent and green, white, and red of the Mexican flag prominently displayed; waiting room filled with patiently waiting people — a sliver of Mexico in San Francisco.  Climbing the two flights of stairs (elevator was broken) up to the third floor, a friend and I found the exhibit…

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According to the article, Oaxacan surrealism hits the SF Mexican consulate, the consulate’s cultural affairs attache, Marimar Suárez Peñalva, hopes the gallery and its exhibitions will offer Mexican expats an opportunity to connect with the creativity, not just the bureaucracy (my word), of their culture.  However, I don’t know how many of those waiting on the first floor make it up to the third floor; early in the afternoon, we had the gallery to ourselves.

And yes, works by Tamayo and Toledo are included, but I thought I’d feature some of the lesser known artists.  By the way, did you notice the name, Alejandro Santiago Ramírez?  This is the same Alejandro Santiago of the 2501 Migrantes sculptures that I’ve previously written about.

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I’m again in the San Francisco Bay Area, visiting family and friends and taking care of the odds and ends of still maintaining a presence here, while living in Oaxaca.  We’ve had clear blue skies and sun and, except for the high-speed pace and exorbitant price of food, it “almost” feels like home.  Hey, I even bought some resin chairs for my son’s backyard and ate some of the best Mexican food ever (in the USA) at Doña Tomás in Oakland.  (FYI:  The Callos con Sopa de Elote — puréed corn soup with seared day boat scallops and fingerling potatoes, roasted poblano chiles and cilantro, served with arroz achiote — was divine.)

To also keep from getting too homesick for Oaxaca, there are a currently a couple of exhibits in San Francisco I plan to see while here.  I found out about The Magic Surrealists of Oaxaca, Mexico from the Oaxacan surrealism hits the SF Mexican consulate article in the SFBG, which explains…

Aquatint etching

Francisco Toledo’s aquatint etching “Self Portrait”

The Zapotec identity … is one of the unifiers of the exhibit, which contains the works of not only [Rufino] Tamayo and [Francisco] Toledo but also artists who were inspired by their work like Justina Fuentes Zárate, she of the reclining mermaid and arresting red dress. Perhaps the works don’t look similar, but they represent the diversity and breadth of the work to come out of the surrealist Zapotec tradition in Oaxaca.

And, then I read the NPR story, In Mexico, Mixed Genders And ‘Muxes’, about a Galería de la Raza exhibit.

Parade of Muxes in traje of Juchitán

Photo from the exhibit

Searching for Queertopia revisits the experiences of Alexander Hernandez’s participation and Neil Rivas’ visual documentation of what is called, the Vela de ‘Las Intrépidas.’ This event, a 3-day celebration, is held annually in the town of Juchitán de Zaragoza, Oaxaca, México, in honor of its Muxe community.

Hmmm… maybe I’ll take the ferry over to “The City” tomorrow.

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Chapulines, illegal???  Say it ain’t so, Joe!!!

Woman selling chapulines from two large baskets.

One of the ubiquitous chapulines vendors in a Oaxacan mercado.

Article from yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle’s Inside Scoop:

La Oaxaquena banned from selling grasshopper tacos and fried tarantula

Posted on 06/08/2011 at 1:29 pm by Paolo Lucchesi in Controversy

A Channel 7 news report last night brought to light an insect crackdown at popular Mission taqueria La Oaxaquena.
In short, the health department said that La Oaxaquena could no longer sell its grasshopper tacos, because the insects — imported from Mexico — don’t come from an FDA-approved source.
Owner Harry Persaud tells Scoop that the ban actually happened about two months ago, and that it also put the kibosh on La Oaxaquena’s fried tarantula tortas.
“The City is worried people will get sick,” he says, pointing out that no one has gotten sick in the two-and-a-half years the exotic treats have been on the menu.
Persaud says it’s not a substantial loss in revenue, though the unique menu items definitely helped lure out-of-state visitors who wouldn’t otherwise head to La Oaxaquena. Also, he’s sent the tacos to different universities who want to do something clever for their biology department dinner or something like that. The City suggested he raise his own grasshoppers, so he’s flirting with that idea.
(But as Jonathan Kauffman points out, you can still get grasshoppers in San Jose.)
So why did the health department crack down now, after over two-plus years of carefree grasshopper and tarantula dining?
Persaud has a simple answer:
“Because we were in the news too much!”
SF won’t let restaurant owner sell grasshopper tacos [ABC]
La Oaxaquena: 2128 Mission Street, between 17th and 18th; (415) 621-5446

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Every year for 20+ years, on Christmas Eve day, my older son and I would take the ferry across the San Francisco Bay for a day of soaking in the holiday sights of the City. No shopping was allowed, save for a new ornament for the tree, but there was lots of walking, and hot chocolate for him and cafe mocha for me… a much needed warm-up from that damp San Francisco cold.

This year, with son remaining on the East Coast with his wife’s family, I jumped at the opportunity to meet an old (long time, not aged!) friend in the City on Dec. 24. I didn’t even consider driving or taking the bus; the mode of transport was to be the Larkspur Ferry. The weather cooperated… a day’s break from the relentless gray and wet.

San Francisco Ferry Building

Nothing but blue skies do I see... at the San Francisco Ferry Building.

San Francisco Ferry Building ceiling

Looking up... San Francisco Ferry Building

Port of San Francisco

You are now leaving the Port of San Francisco

It really is a beautiful city…

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