Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Things on walls, Part 3

Here's a random mural on a random corner. I can't quite make out the words.

This is not actually on a wall, but rather hanging from a wall, to be precise. It's some sort of strange iron work that surrounds a small structure within an old factory that's been made into an arts center in a town called St. Agustin Etla. I'm just not going to speculate about what's going on here.

Another random street with a random mural. There are a lot of them.

Ok, technically this is on a window, not a wall, but it's one of my favorite quotes, by Pablo Picasso. "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working."

A mural inside a restaurant.

And some political artwork -- "Her future is in your hands. No to the privatization of education!!"

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Things on walls, Part 2

More walls, more things on them.  Here's another one of IAGO's murals.  This one is on the patio where I have my Spanish class.

Here's a wall with a political message for us all. I think you'd translate his as "To leave the struggle is to begin to die." Or, maybe "to stop struggling is to begin to die." Anyway, you get the idea.

A print on a wall. Oaxaca is a center of printmaking. There are dozens of printmaking studios, and people like to share their work publicly. All three of us are learning printmaking, but more about that in another post.

I think Gil Scott-Heron would be happy to know that people still remember this song and have translated it into Spanish.  The revolution will not be televised!

Just a ceramic sun on a street corner.

And, just a nice design -- maybe Aztec, maybe Zapotec, but clearly a design that people have been drawing and painting for hundreds of years.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Things on walls, Part 1

There are lots of murals, posters, graffiti, and other kinds of stuff on the walls in Oaxaca.  Here's a random selection:

First, a great use of a crumbling wall.

This graffiti is the famous Marx quote "Religion is the opiate of the people," but when I first saw it I thought that the last word of the top line was "apio," not "opio," which would translate as "Religion is the celery of the people." I think this is a great slogan, but so far no one outside my family likes it.

Just a nice tile on someone's house.

IAGO, the graphics arts institute, has amazing murals on its walls.

Nice juxtaposition of prints.

Last, and definitely least, is this Chinese restaurant. The food was not very good (sadly, like all the Chinese food in Oaxaca) but it did have this bizarrely-leftover photo of Mao on the wall.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Wandering around town...

Wandering around the streets of Oaxaca, you come across strange and interesting and beautiful things.  Mexico always seems to me to be the land of the unexpected.

Here's a guy who makes beautiful paintings out of string. (Look closely.) When we asked to take his picture, he insisted that my daughter pose with him.

There are a lot of words badly-translated from English, but this variation on "crunchy" seemed particularly apt.

There's a band called "La Seductora." It seems that they will help you propose to your beloved. And there they were, in the center of town, helping the guy in the light blue shirt propose to the woman in the dark blue shirt, who looked as if she wished she were anywhere on Earth but there. I watched for 10 minutes, as the band played on and on...
...the prospective groom crooned to his prospective bride, the clearly hired-for-the-occasion photographer (in the white shirt) took a zillion photos, dozens of people watched and laughed and applauded, and the prospective bride looked more and more miserable.

I had to leave before the wooing was over, but I can't helping hoping she said no.  Seriously, girlfriend, he just doesn't get you.

There's lots and lots of ice cream here, and it often comes in a zillion flavors. The flavors available at this place are mostly fruity, but sometimes they're really strange and have things like grasshoppers and ground-up worms and a variety of vegetables in them.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

We've been to the village of Teotitlan de Valle twice.  This village is famous for its weaving, which is sold all over Oaxaca.  Here's a particularly nice example:

Our first visit was in early July, when we went to visit Indigo's second grade teacher, who was visiting her family there. We saw a Guelaguetza parade, which I previously posted some video of. (I'd link to it if I could, but instead you'll just have to scroll down.)

The Guelaguetza festival consists of dancers from each of the different regions of the state of Oaxaca, representing different indigenous groups and traditions of dance. Teotitlan's traditional dance is Danza de las Plumas, which consists of these guys dancing with these huge round things on their heads, like in the video.

The women march with various types of religious artworks on their heads. It's interesting how, when you go to these parades and festivals in the villages, they all start at the church and involve a lot of religious symbolism, but the big parades and performances in the city of Oaxaca focused only on the dancing, without the religious elements. The role of the church in Mexican life is complicated.

The little girls also get into the act, but with smaller displays on their smaller heads.

Globos -- balloons, but in this case made from cloth -- were featured in all the Guelaguetza festivities we went to.

Everyone in town, it seems, had made something or other to parade with.

Indigo spent some time hanging out with some cousins of the friend we were visiting, watching the parade.

Our second trip to Teotilan was in mid-August. We went particularly because they were having a fair and we wanted to buy some tapetes -- the woven wool rugs that Teotitlan is famous for.

We bought this tapete for Indigo -- it's an "Arbol de Vida," or Tree of Life, a very common image. She liked this one because it has lots of animals, including deer. All of the traditional patterns symbolize something.

For example, this is the one we bought, and there is a complicated story about this design. Each step symbolizes a stage of life and then reincarnation (because each spiral leads into another, or something like that). I know this only because the store where we bought it, like most of the places where they sell stuff outside the central market, is not only a store but also the home and workshop of a family, all of whom are involved in making stuff. When we went to buy this tapete, the family invited us to see their looms.

The young man who made this tapete asked Indigo if she'd like to try to weave, and of course she did. He spent almost an hour weaving with her, while Amy and I talked to his brother, who showed us different tapetes and explained the story behind the pattern on each one.

My favorites were the star patterns. He explained that his grandmother always knew what time it was, even though she never owned a watch or clock. She told time by the position of the sun during the day and the stars at night. He said he was always amazed when he came home late and she would yell at him,  "you were supposed to be home by 11 pm, and it’s almost 2 in the morning."