Monday, November 28, 2005

Entry #14

Week of November 21st to 27th, 2005

Wednesday, November 23rd
5pm Slide show and talk by photographer Robert deGast on "Weird WIndows
and Dazzling doors" of San Miguel. It is really fascinating how people decorate their doors in this city. There is no real organization of numbers. Some streets change names three or four times from the top to the bottom of their lengths. There is an amazing variety of personalization in house names and decoration of house number plates. Windows are another story; so many are bricked in or almost doors or left incomplete. DeGast has published several books of San Miguel photosgraphs. Check for a selection. Here is a link to "The Doors of San Miguel":

7:30pm Art Opening: Works by Pita Nieto de Velez...needlepoint art reproductions. It was not the art here but the company that was memorable. I was introduced to Cynthia who had the most wonderful sense of humor and who kept a group of us enthralled with her stories of a traitorous ex-husband, a missing and presumed murdered chef from her B&B, and finally the ordeal she went through to get a B&B licence in San Miguel. She has a actress/comedian daughter who should be a great success if she has inherited half of her mother's comedic talent.

Thursday, November 24th
Alma y Pasiones: Photographs by Raul Touzon at Bellas Artes. This photographer presented one of the Santa Fe Workshops lectures earlier this month, and these photos at the opening were all taken in and around San Miguel during different fiestas.

Friday, November 25th
7-9pm: Opening reception at Galeria Pergola inside the Instituto Allende.
Some of my favorite works on display were by Lupina Flores, Ana Thiel, Yolanda Marroquin, and Raul Oscar Martinez. I wish I had a house here to decorate with all the beautiful and interesting art I have seen the last month. Once again I met old friends who introoduced me to new ones. It is very easy to meet people here.

Saturday, November 26th
I went with 8 other people on a unque tour to the Sierra Gorda valley of Tierra Blanca where we toured an ecological house that used self- composting toilets, recycled "grey" water and collected rainwater. There was a self-watering greenhouse and a temazcal inside of which volcanic rocks are heated and the occupants sweat like in a dry-heat sauna. Later we visited with an indigenous community involved in the Slow Food and ecology movements. The women there prepared a typical comida for us, consisting of foods they grew or harvested from there area. There was a soup of beans, tomatoes, and cactus buds, fresh tortillas hot from the grill, a nopale salad, and a very fresh and spicy salsa. We drank a liquado of guava that was very refreshing and soothing after the hot salsa. I met many interesting people deeply committed to the work they were doing, such as replanting large tracts of land with endangered cacti of many types.

This was a very memorable day. We were all invited back to the pueblo on Thursday for a large meeting of the neighboring indigenous pueblos. There would be dancing in ceremonial costumes, singing and much food. This invitation was not offered lightly. We were made to feel very welcome and a connection between the two communities was being opened.

Sunday, November 27th
I took a long walk in the adjacent neighborhood of Los Balcones. Much new construction is underway. The homes here have great views. Since they are on the top of one of the tallest hills in the area, they get the sun all day, from sunrise to sunset. The Botanical Gardens are adjacent and members can get a key for easier access at the top of the street. I never got a chance to visit the Botanical Garden; it will have to wait for the next time.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Entry #13

Week of November 14th to 20th, 2005

Monday, November 14th
Photography Lecture: Flor Acosta and
Nick Nichols
Flor Acosta teaches photography at the Instituto and her work, "Super Flor" was also on display in the foyer of the Teatro Angela Peralta. This exhibition was comprised of miniature frames of self portraits in costume & poses of goddesses from world mythologies.

Nick Nichols, a National Geographic photographer, showed the audience his latest book, Ndoki: The Last Place on Earthpage by page. It covers a 2000+ mile trek by J. Michael Fay and his pygmy guides as they walked through lands that are still uninhabited. Their efforts led to the creation of 20 or more National Parks. You can see many of the images of this book online. The photos were astonishing and the trip itself was gruelling as the team made its way through extrmemly rough terrain. Check out Nichols' web site for some of the most amazing photos you will ever see.

Wednesday November 16th
Photography Lecture: Ralph Lee Hopkins
Jock Sturges

has taken photographs in many of the world's most remote places: the Arctic, Antarctic, the Galapagos, the Grand Canyon and Baja California. His presentation was easy going and good humored. His photographs took us to those far away places he knows so well: he made 25 visits last year to Baja! (or some outrageous number like that.)

work is no less controversial today than it was when the FBI arrested him for being a pornographer. His photography is founded upon classical Greek art and Impressionism; many of his subjects' poses are reminiscent of Matisse, Degas and Renoir. However, because all his subjects are young, pre-pubescent even, and without exception lithe and beautiful, one wonders why the naked bodies of large women are not represented. He said that his wife, after delivering their newest child, did not want to be photographed because she was unhappy with her shape, although he thought she was still beautiful. Different body types and women of middle and old age would have made his arguments more valid to many more people in the room.

Thursday November 17th
Indian Curry Luncheon hosted by Mujeres en Cambio. This scholarship fundraiser was prepared by a well known female chef . The evenet was held at the beautiful Hacienda de las Flores, on Calle Hospicio #16. The meal was delicious and it gave me an opportunity to meet more people and find out about the good work that Mujeres en Cambio does in the community. For information about this group go to their web site:

5-8pm Art Opening: Works by
Gene Johnson at Casa de la Cuesta, which has a permanent collection of over 200 indigenous masks that have all been used in ceremonial dances. This opening gave me an opportunity not only to see Johnson's work but to have a look at the very impressive and somewhat scary mask collection and a tour of the B&B itself.

Feria de la Lana y el Laiton : Ballet Folklorico Michoacan & craft fare

Friday November 18th
5pm Movie:
Kikujiru No Natsu (2000) This was a quirky film that was both sad and very funny. There are many scenes that will stay with me a long time: the octopus, smashing the watermelon, fishing in water that has no fish, the space alien. The pacing is odd, sometimes it seems so slow, I wished it would end, then something memorable would happen like the hit and run scene. Some people think it is one of director Kitano's best films. It also has a very good soundtrack. See it if you get the chance.

7pm Art Opening: Encaustic paintings and Icons by Eschwan Winding at Galerie LeNoir. These were beautiful. Especially impressive were her series of icons that illustrated the four elements of earth, air, water and fire. The goddesses had familiar faces, like Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy Onassis and other notable women. The icons were triptychs with six sides. They are made to sit on a table, not to be hung on a wall, so all surfaces may be observed.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Entry #12

The week of November 7th to 13th, 2005

Monday November 7th
In Jewelry class today I started work on two bracelets-- one for my daughter and one for myself, and a pair of earrings for my mother. Each piece uses a different technique. I am having so much fun. I wish the jewelry class were every day instead of only three days a week.

Tonight's Santa Fe Workshops Photography Lectures are given by Marcela Taboada and Debbie Fleming Caffery

Check out their web sites for samples of their work.

Wednesday November 9th
Tonight I went to two films back to back. At 5 pm I saw
The Dream of Sparrows (USA/Iraq, 2004). This is the synopsis from from Atencion: "Most Americans will never realize the plight of Iraqis as they struggle to lead normal lives uner American occupation. This historic documentary explores the controversial occupation of Iraq through interviews with Iraqi painters, writers and filmmakers. With the tragic killing of producer Sa'ad Fahker, the filmmakers find their own beliefs shaken to the core." Producer Aaron Raskin was in attendance to answer questions after the film. Americans and Canadians need to see this film.

After a coffee break, I stayed at the Biblioteca for the 7:30pm show: 1 Giant Leap, which uses music and visuals from 25 countries. The directors went on "a global journey that included Senegal, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda, India, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, America and Europe, equipped solely with a digital video camera, a laptop and a vision - to capture and weave together a unique fusion of sound, image and spoken word from some of the world's most happening musicians, authors, scientists and thinkers and to explore 'The Unity in the Diversity'."
Both were memorable films, but
1 Giant Leap was inspriational. This would be an excellent film to have in my own DVD collection and I plan on purchasing it after I return home. Who would ever think that Dennis Hopper and Ram Das had more than one thing in common?

Thursday November 10th
Author of On Mexican Time, Tony Cohan adapted the prison diary and letters of Nigerian journalist and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was falsely accused of the murder of four of his Okoni tribesmen/ relatives and executed ten years ago today. All around the world today PEN chapters are commemoorating Saro-Wiwa, his writings and his mission: to bring world attention to the plight of Nigeria's tribal populations and the exploitation of them and their environment by multinational oil companies like Royal Dutch Shell Group. Find more about Ken Saro-Wiwa at

Friday November 11th
At 6pm there was a gallery opening of paintings by Chi Kaplan. His work uses multimedia and text, reminding me a bit of Basquiat. Also in the gallery at 21 Recreo were many beautiful pieces of jewelry---necklaces and matching earrings at reasonable prices. I had a ticket for the 7pm benefit concert by local musicians Mayahuel, just south of the Allende Institute. The concert was sold out. The musicians donated their time for the charity Jovenes Adelante, which raises money to educate rural young women from middle school through university. The students are recommended by their principals and they are given a no-strings attached scholarship that continues throughout their educations
. Their only obligation is to stay in school and earn a B average.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Entry #11

Friday, November 4, 2005 to Sunday November 6, 2005

Fabrica La Aurora,
a converted factory, is a new space for artists, artisans, and merchants of antiques and home furnishings. Tonight, starting at 5pm, there was a complex wide opening for Dia De Muertos with "cocktel, altares, musica" . Every gallery staged an altar in the middle of its showcased art. There were painters, sculptors, fabric artists, silversmiths, furniture artisans --all fine arts were included. I met some friends there and we explored at least twenty galleries, getting lost once or twice in the maze of corridors. But we didn't mind. The refreshments were excellent and every gallery was a treat for the senses. I know I saw perhaps half of La Fabrica, so I plan to return before I leave San Miguel in December.

Next we took a taxi to the Museo Historico de San Miguel de Allende at the Jardin for the opening "Encounters"--- the paintings of two artists Stefanie Graves and David Lucht. Check out their work at
We walked a few streets over to Bellas Artes, which is the oldest fine arts school in San Miguel. In their Sala de Alumnos there was the Opening for "Ceramics" by Ana Rivera.

Today, the "Adventure Tour" run by Lucha and El Centro de Crecimiento went to the studio of internationally recognized glass artist Ana Thiel. She showed us her large studio, a former chicken coop, explaining the process of working with glass. She collects wire, rusted pieces of metal, things we might see as garbage, to use in her sculptures. At the moment she is completing a "column" composed of segments that look like vertebrae, each with materials of natural or man-made embedded in them. You can see it piled on a table behind her in the photograph.
She showed us her home gallery and then offered us cookies made with pecans from her garden and a drink made from hibiscus flowers. She bakes, she said, as therapy. She was a most gracious host. This studio tour has been a highlight of my stay here.

Lucha then took us to a mansion in Atascadero-- a neighborhood like Westmount, high on a hill overlooking Centro San Miguel. The home belongs to the Cardenas family who visit from Mexico City only on long weekends and holidays.

At 3pm I had an invitation to attend the birthday party for Therese H., the owner of the apartment I am renting. It was a wonderful party and I met many interesting people there, including artists whose work I had seen in San Miguel galleries.

The final event this evening was a Gypsy Jazz show at Finnigan's restaurant near the Instituto. It reminded me a bit of Calexico.

When I went next door to thank Jim & Therese for the wonderful time I had at their party, they invited me in and we chatted for an hour. Then they served me a lunch of the same delicious
chiles poblano rellanos covered in yoghurt and garnished with pomegranate seeds that were yesterday's main course. This is a recipe to acquire and perfect. Therese said it was labor intensive but the work is worth it---an outstanding meal hot or cold!

At 5pm the San Miguel Actors Lab was presenting its final reading of "Couples....Till Death Do Us Part" at the Biblioteca. The show was composed of scenes from six famous Broadway plays:
Dylan Goes to America, The Odd Couple, Waltz of the Toreadors, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Prisoner of 2nd Avenue, and Blithe Spirit. Most were humorous scenes, but there was enough emotional range to make the evening meaningful.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Entry #10

Monday, October 31, 2005 
to November 2, 2005

"Creative Jewelry" at the Instituto Allende began today. It meets from 9-12 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The teacher Abelardo Gill (Abe) had me working immediately on a pendant after I bought a sheet of silver and a beautiful green stone. He showed me each step of the process: cutting, heating, stretching and shaping the silver into first a bezel, then a back and finally a loop from which to hang it on a chain. When I left the jewelry studio I was choked up, almost crying tears of joy--I was so happy. It was very satisfying to learn a new skill and make something beautiful.

I finished the pendant Tuesday morning and started on a matching ring. On Wednesday I started a third piece, but everything went wrong. When I soldered the edges of the bezel, it collapsed and melted. I worked on it all morning, but had to put it aside, determined to return to it when I have more skills.

The Santa Fe Workshops Photography lectures Monday night were given by Ricardo Vidargas and Keith Carter . In the dark theater, the photos are able to transport me to another place, to see the world, one I don't necessarily know at all, from the photographer's unique point of view.

Tuesday evening I went to the opening of the annual Ofrenda exhibit at the Cine Los Aldama. The entire exhibit was created by artist Luis Pantoja.
He made all the papier-maché figures and decorated all the ofrendas. He had been preparing for the two night show for months. It was such a popular event that people were lined up outside to see the many ofrendas, each one dedicated to the memory of a deceased Latino movie star. There was also a candle-light parade through the Centro-- people of all ages walking in silence, holding shaded candles. The mood was solemn, a time of remembering, yet it was nevertheless a party, a time to face death and laugh at our own mortality.

Wednesday I met my friend Cynthia and we went to a gallery opening, "Skulls in the Boneyard" where we saw many impressive pieces: A glass spider web made by Susan Plum evoked Spiderwoman the creation goddess who spins the web of existence from her own body; Rosa Torres made a papier-maché skeleton covered in monarch butterflies---it is a celebration of transformation.

Theresa Seregneri made two large mobiles covered in dangling "Skeleton Women". Each one is different and beautiful despite the bony projections of ribs and skulls. They are dressed in feathers, beads and brilliant fabrics. If only they were sold separately!

What a great show! The work of nine artists and free refreshments: delicious guacamole, tostidas and mezcal!