Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

One Reason to love Mexico City:
Diego Rivera’s Anahuacalli Museum in Coyoacan.
Over his lifetime, Diego Rivera collected 50,000 pieces of pre-hispanic art. According to the museum staff he bought from ‘archaeologists’ who robbed temple sites and had a hand in taking pieces himself.

In return, he built this volcanic rock house which mimics a pyramid inside, to give the historic art collection a home and share them with the Mexican people.
The house took 28 years to build and was unfinished upon his death.  With the generous support of Dolores Olmeda, the house was finished and opened to the public.  I have to say it is an amazing piece of architecture that they say was built with some consultation from Frank Lloyd Wright.

Inside, you are walking inside a pyramid laden with stone mosaics of prehispanic images on both the floor and ceilings, the walls made of volcanic rock from the land the house sits on.  The top floor is home to some of his large mural sketches and houses contemporary shows. It’s beautiful and a must see if you are in Mexico city.

View the slideshow below:

© Suzanne da Rosa 2012

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Mexico City, the museum of anthropology.

There’s more than I can write pecking a letter at a time on my iPhone so here’s some photos until I can get to my computer














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Cien Años de la Artesania en Hojalata de San Miguel de Allende

An update to the post below – the film has been selected to be shown this Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 6pm on the main stage in the Jardin in San Miguel as part of the opening ceremonies for this year’s feria de lana y laton (wool and brass fair) and on Monday November 8, 7-9pm in the same location.  If you missed Thursday’s show, be sure to come by the Jardin during those times to see it.

The post:

If you are in town this Thursday at 7pm, you can see the video documentary I have made about the history of decorative (and utilitarian) tin work in San Miguel de Allende.

If you live here, or have just visited, you can’t miss the tinkering of tools on metal here.  It’s everywhere, in all neighborhoods.  Literally hundreds, if not a thougsand people or more work in tin here. Over the years, because of purchasing tin work for our store in the U.S., I’ve been going in and out of these shops wondering how it all began.

There are a handful of families that go back exactly one hundred years, to 1910, when a metal worker, Aucensio Llamas moved to San Miguel from Jerez Zacatecas.  For twenty five years he made and repaired milk cans, oil lamps and colanders for making atole.  There was no tourism, no market for decorative or religious tin work.

In the late 1930’s and into the 40’s when Stirling Dickinson arrived and began to bring more foreigners to attend the art school he helped to found, a market for decorative pieces developed along with creative inspiration and eventually an industry that put almost all of San Miguel to work.

I won’t go into the rest because … we’d like you to come see it on Thursday.  Many of the artisan families who are in the movie will be there for the premiere and we’ll have a question and answer afterwards so you can meet the original families, now in their third and fourth generations of family business.

The film includes these men talking about their history in tin work,, the unfolding of an international business market for them along with their personal feelings about their work and how it has changed over the years.  Voices are overlayed with photos and video footage of them creating pieces in their workshops.

These men create some of the most beautiful tin work in San Miguel today.  The documentary combines these men talking about their families, the lean and boom times, what it was like to begin making decorative pieces after doing utilitarian work and what it was life was like here in the early part of the 20th century.  It’s a new perspective on the history of the town, told by the families who lived and grew through the ups and downs of of town economies that are driven by tourism.

The film will be shown at the Santa Ana Theatre at the Biblioteca on Calle Insurgente.  Thursday Nov. 4, 2010 7pm, with an introduction to the artisans after the show.

film duration: 40 minutes.
In the words of the artisans, in Spanish, with English subtitles.

The film is for sale at la Conexion and at the artist booths of Chilo Botes (Cecilio Hernández, Eleazar and Enrique Badillo and Artes de Mexico on the Calzada de la Aurora.  It will also be available through our online store website after November 8th at :  www.mexicanfolkart.com

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Over the years of exporting Mexican Artesania, I have continually been drawn back to the tin artisans who reside not only in San Miguel de Allende, but in Oaxaca, Guanajuato, Celaya, Mexico City.

The malleable quality of tin (hojolata) copper (cobre) and brass (laton) they work in allows the artist to create beautiful repousse, punched and multi layered work.  It is nothing short of miraculous to see a solid surface become bowl like, the shape of animals, trees, hearts.

Most of the work here is still done the old way, hammered on lead plugs or into indentations on their palos – tree stumps with smoothed out indentations from the years of hammering and rolling the ball edge of a hammer around a piece of tin.

This year, I began video interviews with the oldest tin workers.  Those who were here when metal work was only done for utilitarian pieces – milk cans, oil lamps, cooking stoves, utensils for the home.  Those artists who were here before foreigners came to town with ideas for decorative pieces and the money to entice the metal workers to fabricate the first decorative pieces for the home, the pieces that would lead to the metal art you find today.

The project, which has become an obsession of sorts, is coming together, starting with the history of metal and metal arts including artists who have been working in tin for over 40 years, the story of how it happened here in San Miguel de Allende.

Here is a 2 minute short of one of the oldest artists, who remembers what it was like in 1944 when San Miguel de Allende was a town of about 7,000 people,  and no artisan metalwork being done.  It was a time where metal work was of utilitarian purpose, made and carried on the backs of burros to the ranchos to sell.

[Vimeo 14131039]

The entire documentary will be exhibited/shown in the Jardin as a part of the Feria de la Lana y el Laton this November as a tribute to these older artisan families.

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Just outside the city limits, on the way to Dolores Hidalgo, there’s a roadside attraction – a mini theme park of sorts called Mexico Lindo.  Enter at your own risk beneath a large, sun-bleached cow skull, facing Christo Rey who resides as a centerpiece in front of a lush palm, welcoming all to this replica of a ghost town.  It’s a zoo of sorts with large iron giraffes, painted carved animals, a carved drunk sitting atop a roof and it houses a very large collection of paintings, carvings and memorabilia. It’s a quirky desert oasis residing on several acres of very relaxed native landscaping.

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Mexico Lindo is really an art gallery. There are hundreds of paintings on wood and metal.  Every saint you can imagine is here along with a large collection of Botero style women and men in all poses from saints to prostitutes to musicians. Old wood cabinet doors are covered in traditional village scenes, fruits and vegetables. It all exists in a setting of cantera saints, skeletons, animals, plus a few modern Navajo style cantera carvings.

The park serves as the family residence and barnyard as well, housing an unknown number of people, burros, roosters and chickens.  The grounds are covered with makeshift buildings and outhouses that have walls made of organ cactus and decrepit antique tequila bars – freshly painted of course. You can even buy a carved deer which has been covered in aluminum and milagros for all the good luck you will need.

On your way out, you’ll find an old hearse. Inside lies an old wood plank coffin, complete with bouquets of fading plasic flowers resting atop. It is elaborately painted with the national symbol of the eagle with a snake in his mouth. A scrolled banner  touting the of the last words of it’s inhabitant decorate the back.  The entire family runs this place, right down to the youngest child who makes sure you have had something to drink, a taco, or a piece of gum.

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Kate McKenna, photographer and friend, has a show at the Oasis Boutique Hotel.

She photographs cactus, large and close-up then works them into prints on canvas.

The process of blowing these up life size causes them to mature and transform into a completely new work.

They are reborn in the nature of a painting –  or so it seems until you are right up close where the magnification of the image combined with the texture of the canvas enters the eye and mind in a new way that disassembles the assumptions one has about cactus in a desert climate. They are colorful, vibrant and restful pieces that say ‘come closer, there’s more inside.’

Go by and have a look for yourself.  It’s something you have to see up close.

The show runs from today, March 5-20, 2010, 12-4pm Monday through Friday.
Chiquitos #1A.

You can reach Kate at her website and view her photographs by clicking here.

It is an unusual and beautiful show, curated by Kate and Kathleen Eckles Mann, in a beautiful location.

You won’t want to miss it.

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The Frida Kahlo Museum and the house that she grew up in, the house she was nursed back to health in after her tragic accident, the house she learned to paint in. This was her family home, which after one of her break ups with Diego Rivera, she moved back to. She painted it blue. She and Diego later brought the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his wife here to live. She spent her last days and died here. (slideshow at the bottom of this post)

The grounds outside the room where Frida's day bed was.

I was truly stunned by the size of the grounds, as well as the design of the structures which skirted the outer perimeter near the street, different than I had imagined.  I was equally surprised at how many preconceived ideas about Frida Kahlo’s life I had adopted which this visit  dispelled by just being in the presence of the real thing.  This always happens to me with art galleries anyway.  For example Goya’s dark series, which are housed at the Prado in Madrid, you can’t imagine what these paintings really are through photographs of them.  You think you can, but when you stand right in front of them, they convey emotion, compassion, anger and the power of their story and they become real.  You have to spend time with the emotion they create inside you afterwards. (more…)

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