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Posts Tagged ‘urban art’

If it’s Sunday, it must be market day in Tlacolula de Matamoros.  However, it’s not just the market (one of the oldest and biggest in Oaxaca) that keeps me returning, it’s also the prevalence of fabulous murals decorating walls and sides of buildings.  Unfortunately, here in Oaxaca city, there has been a growing intolerance by the powers-that-be to these cultural and often political expressions. However, in Tlacolula, they seem to be encouraged and celebrated — and the Tlacolulokos collective has elevated mural painting to a high art form.

We discovered their latest mural a few weeks ago as we were navigating out way through Tlacolula on our way back from the Feria del Barro Rojo in San Marcos Tlapazola.  As with their previous work, using iconic imagery they continue to explore and honor the strength of the beautiful and brave Zapotec women of Tlacolula — this time, in what seems to be a “blue period.”

I was more than a bit puzzled by the above and very prominent words featured on the mural and had to do a little research — after all, that’s what librarians do!  It turns out, “Tokiolula” refers to the 1960s and 1970s when the Tlacolula market was known for selling cheap and often counterfeit goods — mostly from Asia.  That ended in the 1980s, but, unfortunately, has been creeping back.

As for Guish-Bac… “in Zapotec dialect of Tlacolula, Guish Bac is said to mean ‘in the middle of the sky’ or ‘in the middle of the path'” (Revista Cultural Bení Guish Bac Gulal – my translation) and, according to the footnotes in this dissertation, it refers to “people from Tlacolula.”

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Passing Erika Santiago‘s haunting mural along the wall outside Almacén Mexicano on Calle Valentín Gómez Farías, Sad-Eyed Lady Of the Lowlands began playing in my head.

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Sometimes art brings a song.  And, maybe we are all a little sad these days.

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Even if it looks like the world is crumbling around you…

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On Reforma, at the corner of Constitucion in Oaxaca — courtesy of The Positive Affect project.

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On Calle de Ignacio Allende at the corner of Tinoco y Palacios, a new mural is ready to take you on a magic carpet ride.

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Well, you don’t know what we can find
Why don’t you come with me little girl
On a magic carpet ride
You don’t know what we can see
Why don’t you tell your dreams to me
Fantasy will set you free
Close your eyes girl
Look inside girl
Let the sound take you away

Magic Carpet Ride, written by Normal Cook, Robert Manuel Clivilles, and David Bryon Cole; performed by Steppenwolf.

 

Hopefully, this mural won’t be slapped with “pintura no autorizada” signs like its predecessor.

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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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“What’s your name,” Coraline asked the cat. “Look, I’m Coraline. Okay?”
“Cats don’t have names,” it said.
“No?” said Coraline.
“No,” said the cat. “Now you people have names. That’s because you don’t know who you are. We know who we are, so we don’t need names.”Neil Gaiman, Coraline

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The problem with cats is that they get the exact same look on their face whether they see a moth or an axe-murderer.Paula Poundstone
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“Curiosity killed the cat,” Fesgao remarked, his dark eyes unreadable.
Aly rolled her eyes. Why did everyone say that to her? “People always forget the rest of the saying,” she complained. “‘And satisfaction brought it back.”Tamora Pierce, Trickster’s Choice

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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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The US election results had come in and, with mixed feelings, I was preparing for a trip up into the belly of the beast, to visit family.  A mural seen shortly before I left, on the wall of contemporary art space La Curtiduria on 5 de mayo in Jalatlaco, seemed to speak to me.

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Today, after hearing of the death of Mose Allison, another musical great I had the privilege of seeing in person several times, I’m thinking the wall could very well have been singing…

Your Mind Is On Vacation
by Mose Allison

You’re sitting there yakkin’ right in my face
I guess I’m gonna have to put you in your place
Y’know if silence was golden
You couldn’t raise a dime
Because your mind is on vacation and your mouth is
Working overtime

You’re quoting figures, you’re dropping names
You’re telling stories about the dames
You’re always laughin’ when things ain’t funny
You try to sound like you’re big money
If talk was criminal, you’d lead a life of crime
Because your mind is on vacation and your mouth is
Working overtime

You know that life is short and talk is cheap
Don’t be making promises that you can’t keep
If you don’t like the song I’m singing, just grin and
Bear it
All I can say is if the shoe fits wear it
If you must keep talking please try to make it rhyme
‘Cause your mind is on vacation and your mouth is working
Overtime

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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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Murals seen in mid July on Garcia Vigil, between Independencia and Morelos.  A month later, they have been painted over, but in Oaxaca, god and resistance never die…

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The public school fall semester is scheduled to start Monday, August 22 and, as you can see from the Oaxaca-The Year After blog post, for good reason, no one is holding their breath.

So, while we wait, take a deep breath, exhale, and watch Lila Downs performing Dios Nunca Muere live HERE.

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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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Oaxaca quote of the day, as posted on Facebook by my friend and neighbor, J:  “Antes, no salía sin checar el clima.  Ahora no salgo sin checar los bloqueos.”  Translation:  “Before, I didn’t go out without checking the weather.  Now, I don’t leave without checking for blockades.”

Mexico’s Interior Secretary, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, is refusing further dialogue with the CNTE (teachers and education workers union) until the blockades are lifted, the CNTE is vowing to intensify its actions around the country, and rumor has it that masses of vacant hotel rooms in Oaxaca (thanks to large-scale cancellations) are being filled by federal police.  There’s a dance going on in Oaxaca, I don’t know the steps, but in the meantime, let’s put on our red shoes and dance the blues.

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Let’s Dance
by David Bowie

Let’s dance put on your red shoes and dance the blues

Let’s dance to the song
they’re playin’ on the radio

Let’s sway
while color lights up your face
Let’s sway
sway through the crowd to an empty space

If you say run, I’ll run with you
If you say hide, we’ll hide
Because my love for you
Would break my heart in two
If you should fall
Into my arms
And tremble like a flower

Let’s dance for fear
your grace should fall
Let’s dance for fear tonight is all

Let’s sway you could look into my eyes
Let’s sway under the moonlight,
this serious moonlight

If you say run, I’ll run with you
If you say hide, we’ll hide
Because my love for you
Would break my heart in two
If you should fall
Into my arms
And tremble like a flower

Let’s dance put on your red shoes
and dance the blues

Let’s dance to the song
they’re playin’ on the radio

Let’s sway you could look into my eyes
Let’s sway under the moonlight,
this serious moonlight

 

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It’s halftime in Oaxaca and all is quiet.

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Local vendors are selling food, drink and paraphernalia. Though El Financiero is reporting that grocery chain Soriana is temporarily closing some of their stores in Oaxaca and Chiapas, blaming blockades and security concerns.

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The teams have retired to their respective locker rooms to tend to the wounded and bury the dead (literally).

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Mascots continue to fire up their supporters in a war of Tweets, Facebook posts, and media talking heads…

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As fans (fanáticos en español) await the resumption of play.

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But, all most Oaxaqueños want is a peaceful and fair end to this infernal battle.  Let’s hope something can be worked out when negotiations resume on Monday.

During this lull, English speaking readers might want to check out Dave Miller’s blog and/or listen to an interview with Laura Carlsen (Center for International Policy) for background on the issues involved between the education workers and the government.

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It’s the morning after the day and night before — and I don’t even know where to begin.

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The very short and immediate version is:  Yesterday afternoon about 50 miles north of the city in Nochixtlán, six demonstrators were killed when federal police moved in to breakup a 5-day long blockade by Sección 22 of the teachers union on the main highway between here and Puebla.  As the police moved toward the city, there was another battle about 8 miles north near San Pablo Etla, and then last night about 7:30 a helicopter began flying over the city, smoke rose from near the teachers’ encampment in the zócalo (about 4 blocks away), and shouting and explosions were heard.  It was still going on when I fell asleep around midnight.

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It’s Monday morning, but all was eerily quiet when I awoke.  Very little traffic on my usually busy street and almost no buses to be seen or heard.  Television news and local papers are hopeless, so I began monitoring five Facebook groups dedicated to blockades, demonstrations, traffic, etc. and Twitter for news.

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Needing a few groceries (I know that seems to be a constant theme, but I don’t have a car here, so can only buy what I can carry) and wanting to see what went on last night, my neighbor and I ventured out onto the streets.  The acrid smell of smoke was still evident and, at almost every intersection, beginning with the one half a block down our street, tires were still smoldering.  The closer we got to the zócalo, the more graffiti and damage we saw.

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Oxxo on Morelos at Garcia Vigil had been vandalized and was closed, the windows of Catedral had been broken but the restaurant was open, and all the ATMs in BanNorte had been damaged, but the tellers were in place and banking was being done.  However, it’s like a Sunday morning, with few people on the streets.

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The teachers’ plantón (encampment) on and surrounding the zócalo remains, but it was dirty and depressing and there were a couple of drunk guys, so we opted not to venture further.  Instead, we continued east on Independencia, passing more broken windows, scrawled messages on walls denouncing the federal and state governments and warning all that it has only just begun.

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If you want background and more detailed reports, you can check out posts from Oaxaca at http://elenemigocomun.net/.  Yes, I know, it’s from the perspective of the teachers and protestors — I figure the “mainstream” media has got the government’s point of view covered.

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Stencil photos were taken a few days ago on Garcia Vigil, between Independencia and Morelos.  Yes, I did take photos this morning of the remnants of last night’s events, but I just can’t bring myself to post them.  The mood is sad and wary — no one knows how and when this will end — and the ghosts of 2006 hang over the city.

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