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Posters for Ayotzinapa

Eight months and counting… Tonight, eight months ago, 43 students from the Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero went missing.  I am sadly resigned that marking this horrific anniversary has become a regular feature on my blog.  As a mother, a guest resident of Mexico, and someone who believes that the peoples of the world deserve social justice, I can’t ignore this tragedy.

I dare you to leave Carteles por Ayotzinapa, the current exhibition at Instituto de Artes Gráficas de Oaxaca (IAGO), with a dry eye.  The 49 posters on display are only a fraction of the over 700 posters submitted to the First International Poster Biennial 2014 Convocation Ayotzinapa, an initiative of Oaxaca’s internationally renown artist, Francisco Toledo.  In addition to Mexico, artists from Argentina to Greece; Iran to Lebanon; and Poland to the USA responded to his call, recognizing as Toledo explained, the tragedy of Ayotzinapa has outraged people from beyond the borders of Mexico.

Photo courtesy of Oaxaca Media

Photo courtesy of Oaxaca Media

Irwin Homero Carreño Garnica, a graphic design student, originally from Ocotlán de Morelos, Oaxaca, was awarded first prize for his heartbreaking work, “México fracturado por Ayotzinapa” (Mexico fractured by Ayotzinapa).  As you can see above, it is a map of Mexico in the shape of a skeleton, with a break in the femur, where Ayotzinapa, Guerrero is located.  Like the work of the Tlacolulokos, the use of an iconic image (skeleton) and a primary palette of black, white, and greys, increases the emotional impact, much like Picasso’s, “Guernica.

Second place was won by Damian Kłaczkiewicz (Poland) and third place went to Daniela Diaz (Mexico).  The three winning posters will be reproduced for distribution throughout Mexico.

The exhibition runs through June 26, 2015.

With fire in the hands

The previously mentioned Tlacolulokos collective has brought their artistry and social commentary to a wall on the upper floor of the Casa de la Ciudad.  The mural, “Con el fuego en las manos” shows two young women, almost mirror images of each other or, perhaps, two sides of the same woman.

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The young women/woman wear the traditional clothing of San Bartolome Quialana, a village near Tlacolula de Matamoros, home of the Tlacolulokos collective.  Like communities throughout Oaxaca, much of the male population has migrated to the United States, in search of work leaving the women to carry on alone.

As the introduction to the exhibit on the Casa de la Ciudad website explains, With a critical view towards the current cultural context, Tlacolulokos group, headed by Darío Canul and Cosijoesa Cernas, seeks to question the idealized images of the Oaxacan culture, tourism product discourse, and insights from the reality currently experienced by the people of Oaxaca.

There are elements in her clothing belonging to the Latina culture of the southern United States, as the cholo bandana that she wears on her head, or the tattoos on her arms that add a critical and provocative tinge to this cultural mix, a product of migration.  [ Google translation, with a little help from yours truly]

One of the trademarks of  the Tlacolulokos group is the power their images acquire and the emotion they elicit by limiting the palette to black, white, and grays.  For more background and a better understanding of the mural, a video (en español) of the artists discussing their work can be found here.

“Con el fuego en las manos”  is scheduled to run until December 2015 at the Casa de la Ciudad (Porfirio Diaz No. 115, at the corner of Morelos in Oaxaca’s Historic District).  Hours are 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Monday through Sunday.

Stick-to-itiveness

Situated metaphorically at the busy intersection of imagery and content—and informed by history, mass media, commerce, and pop culture—stickers address both the personal and the political.  — Street Art Graphics, The Richard F. Brush Art Gallery, St. Lawrence University.

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Stick-to-itiveness:  the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult or unpleasant.

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Street art stickers — a metaphor for Mexico, methinks.

The gods are watching

Just so you know…  The gods are watching you on Tinoco y Palacios, between Morelos and Matamoros.

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Hmmm…. sometime between January, when I first photographed the mural and a few days ago, when I returned, an airplane landed on the tongue.

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Recently, BBCtrending posted the video, Aztec to urban — Mexico’s street art explosion, highlighting the use of Mexico’s pre-Columbian imagery in contemporary street art.  I don’t know the name of the artist who painted the mural above, but seeing the “Dioses Urbanos” of Diego Alvarez (aka, Ocote) in the video, brought it to mind.

The old school VW way

Long ago, in a land far, far away, I once had a Volkswagen Beetle.   It was so old, it didn’t even have a gas gauge, only a reserve tank.  My little bug would inevitably begin running out of gas when I was putt-putting up a hill, requiring me to take my foot off the gas pedal to kick over the reserve tank.  Needless to say, I would hold my breath and offer up silent prayers that I wouldn’t get rear-ended and that there was, indeed, gas in the reserve tank!  But, I loved that car…

So, only a block from Casita Colibrí, how could I resist stopping to admire this beauty?

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Made in Oaxaca — or at least, tricked out in Oaxaca.

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Ready to rally again on the Pan American Highway?  It’s just up the road apiece.

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Stay calm… Doing it the old school Beetle way!

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Hmmm… last month’s Old VWs never die and now this post.  Bugs, of the VW variety, might just have to become a regular feature.

Yesterday, on the terrace of my neighbor, his Echinopsis eyriesii was putting on quite a show…

P1090361P1090362P1090360P1090359Listening to the Putamayo World Music Hour’s tribute to mothers and sending mothers everywhere wishes for peace, justice, love, and much joy.

And, the librarian in me can’t resist adding a couple of Mother’s Day reference sources:

¡Feliz día de la madre!

The sunburned shoulders have turned brown and the leg muscles are no longer sore.  I’ve fully recovered from last Sunday’s annual Día de la Santa Cruz (Day of the Holy Cross) hike up Cerro Picacho (in zapoteco, Quie Guia Betz), the sacred mountain in Teotitlán del Valle.

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All that remains, are memories and photographs from another lovely, if strenuous, day.  The cicadas (cigarras or chicharras, en español) again provided the  soundtrack, as we wound our way up the trail from the presa (dam).  The climb begins rather benignly but rapidly gets steeper and steeper.  That little speck in the lower right of the photo below is the car — and this was less than a tenth of the way to the summit!

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At 10 AM, when we began our ascent, it was already hot and experience told us shade trees were few and far between.  We were the only extranjeros (foreigners) on the trail and were frequently passed by Teotitecos (people from Teotitlán) going up and coming down and never failing to greet us with “buenos días.”  After several rest and water sipping breaks, we eventually reached our destination.

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This 2.9 mile (4.7 km) hike took us from 5,750 feet (1,752 meters) to 6,830 feet (2,082 meters).  However, once we arrived, we were immediately offered much-needed and appreciated cups of agua de jamaica (hibiscus water) and later we were fed amarillo tamales pulled from steaming pots in the makeshift kitchen.  No doubt, the gals in this alfresco cocina appreciated the newly constructed shade structure and counter that had been bolted into the side of the mountain, as I’m sure did the young man who sat down to serenade us.

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However, the best was yet to come — the spectacular views of the village and the mountains beyond that unfold when one reaches the summit.

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Even more overwhelming is the sense of oneness with the natural world and with generations of Zapotecos who have been climbing and honoring El Picacho for thousands of years.

P1090266As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, May 3 is Día de la Santa Cruz.  The committee members who organize Teotitlán’s celebration change from year to year, so each year takes on a slightly different character.  This year brought the newly built kitchen space and, unlike last year, no foot race up the mountain and the absence of massive speakers blasting music — for which we were grateful!

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Three permanent crosses can be found atop Picacho and for Día de la Santa Cruz, all were decorated with fragrant garlands of frangipani blossoms.  A cross of concrete and stone crowns an altar and two wooden crosses, which I’ve been told were carved in Chiapas, preside above the altar and look out over the valley.

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Teotitlán (Teocaltitlán, in náhuatl) means “land of the gods.”  Sitting on top of Cerro Picacho, it certainly felt as if I was indeed gazing out at the land of the gods.

Feliz 5 de mayo

It’s Cinco de Mayo, but in Oaxaca, like most of Mexico, it’s a business as usual kind of day; schools are in session, businesses and banks are open, and deliveries are being made.  The cervesas and mezcal may be flowing and guacamole may be served, but no more than usual.  Only in Puebla, where the significantly outnumbered Mexican troops defeated the French army in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, is it a big deal.  However, most every city and village has a street named 5 de mayo and in many, like Oaxaca, a street has been named for Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín, the general who commanded the Mexican army at the Battle of Puebla.  By the way, he was born in what was the Mexican village of Bahía del Espíritu Santo, now Goliad, Texas, USA.

As the walls of Oaxaca continue to show, it’s the current battles that remain front and center…

P1050917 copy P1080998 copy P1080893 copy P1080997 P1050398As the mother in the stencil above explains, against the odds like her ancestors 153 years ago, “I will fight today because I don’t want to see you die tomorrow.”

Why they march

It’s International Workers’ Day and workers all over the globe are marching.

P1090214 They march to celebrate past victories; they march to proclaim the dignity of work; they march to defend the right to collective bargaining; they march to demand living wages and safe working conditions; and they march to secure a better future for their children.

P1090223If you have any doubts about why workers in Mexico are marching today:  19.5 Million Mexicans Are Tethered To The Minimum Salary, The Lowest In The Americas.  According to the article (translated from the original Spanish by Peter W. Davis),

Mexico has a minimum wage of around 69 pesos a day ($4.50 US), the lowest in Latin America….the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean placed Mexico as the only country with a minimum wage below the poverty line.  Furthermore 14% of employees receive a salary even lower than this minimum.

P1090220It’s no wonder that, as I write, there are marches converging on Oaxaca’s zócalo from points north, south, east, and west.  When I was out and about an hour ago, I ran into healthcare workers from as far away as Tuxtepec, in the northeast of the state, and Huatulco, in the southwest.

¡Feliz Día del Trabajo a tod@s!  The struggle continues…

To the children…

Feliz Día del Niño (Day of the Child) to children everywhere!

Forever Young
by Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

Flamboyant flamboyantes

The Flamboyant trees (aka, Delonix regia and Royal Poinciana) have outdone themselves this year.  And yesterday, walking home from the market, I was captured and enraptured by their canopy.  P1090203On Independencia below the Basilica de la Soledad.

Yesterday, the city of Oaxaca celebrated its 483rd birthday as a Spanish chartered city.  Early in the morning bells were rung, Las Mañanitas was sung, tamales and atole were served, an air force flyover buzzed the city several times, multiple musical events were held, a convite paraded through the streets, fireworks exploded from the Plaza de la Danza, and more, and it continues.  I was going to write about it, but…

Today a more urgent anniversary requires our attention:  Mexico Marks 7 Months Since 43 Ayotzinapa Students Disappeared.  Family, fellow classmates, friends, and supporters around the world keep their names alive and cry for justice.  And artists continue to reach into our minds and hearts through their music, artwork, and film making.

In the documentary, Ayotzinapa’s 43 Disappeared: Family & Friends Remember, we hear the voices of their classmates and relatives. They don’t trust the official story and are determined to find out what happened.

Near the end of the song, “La Patria Madrina,” from her new album, Balas y Chocolate (Bullets and Chocolat), Lila Downs chants the Ayotzinapa 43 mantra that can be seen and heard all over Mexico, ¡Vivos los llevaron, vivos los queremos!  (They were taken alive, and we want them back alive!)

And, on walls throughout Mexico, our attention is called to the missing 43 students from the Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos, teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.

Oaxaca de Juárez

Oaxaca de Juárez

Mexico City

Mexico City

Mexico City

Mexico City

Oaxaca de Juárez

Oaxaca de Juárez

Old VWs never die…

Old Volkswagens never die.

P1090066They cruise on down to Oaxaca…

P1090067Put on some bling…

P1090068copyAnd, stop traffic!

When atop the massive plateau that is the archaelogical site of Monte Albán, one can’t help but reflect on the pre-Hispanic cultures that built and inhabited this place; cultures whose gods were of the environment — the elements and the agricultural gifts, to man and beast, those elements provided.

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Today, as we celebrate Earth Day, perhaps we need a return to the old gods…

Kiss the girl goodbye

Love and adventure on Calle de Los Mártires de Tacubaya!!!

Before he plunges into the deep to do battle with the giant pulpo, one last kiss goodbye from the girl in the red car.

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Kiss the Girl Goodbye

Kiss the girl goodbye
It’s time for me to fly
Wipe the tears away
I’ll be home some day, baby
So baby, please wait for me
Don’t want no one to take my place
You’re the one for me
And that’s the way love should be We’ve been apart so many times before
One more time won’t change things
I’ll even love you more We’ve been apart so many times before
One more time won’t change things
I’ll even love you more (Kiss me) kiss the girl goodbye (goodbye) it’s time to fly
(Kiss me) wipe the tears away (goodbye)
(Kiss me) kiss the girl goodbye (goodbye) it’s time to fly
(Kiss me) wipe the tears away (bye)
(Kiss me) kiss the girl goodbye (goodbye) it’s time to fly
(Kiss me) wipe the tears away

Songwriters:  Peter Criss, S. Penridge
Kiss The Girl Goodbye lyrics © Reach Music Publishing-Digital Obo Rock Steady Music

(Not their typical fare, but still, I can’t believe I’ve posted a song from Kiss!!!)

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