Archive for June, 2020

Mexico 2019, Part 7.

Friday, June 26th, 2020

Mexican craftpeople! But first, an oxymoron.


Mexican crafts. Moomins and I came across a state-funded exhibition of all the styles of art Mexicans make and there was no way we were going to pass that up. I’m so glad we didn’t because I had no idea. The different materials and the variety of creative outlets, it was mind-boggling. As you well know I like details, the smaller and more complicated the better. And I was not disappointed. Look at these free-handed ceramics.


To give you an idea of how much The Moomins and I differ in our artistic taste, I got soooo excited to see the work of Jacobo y Maria Angeles. Look at the carving, the painting. So precise.

Moomins was disinterested. The one that catches her eye? This.

So, you know, different. Going back to bananas intricacy: candles. Ever thought your wax candles were unexciting? How about making lace and flowers from dripped and carved wax to jazz up those blandles?

Those figures are also made of wax which I totally understand because wax is slightly translucent and therefore looks a great deal like skin. But I hope all these artists live in cool climates because on a hot day all this awesomeness is going to gently slump to the ground.

I was introduced to an art style I never knew existed which is unusual and really neat. See this tapestry? It’s a village scene. Not big, maybe 2′ x 3′. Whatevs.

But wait. It’s made by attaching small pieces of black and white feathers in a meticulous manner. Suddenly every line and section is far more impressive. It’s a very old art in Mexico. Here’s a section of antique featherwork.

You can see the labor put into that. I was impressed as hell.

Something I’ve always enjoyed about Mexican art is how relaxed they are about how animals are represented. Is that a bird? Who knows. Maybe it’s a jaguar? Your guess is as good as mine. Here are some of the better examples of that with what I think the animal might be. Feel free to disagree, we each are probably right and / or wrong.

Fish and deer. That one’s easy.

Lions. With back scales.

Fox owl hybrids.

Crocodiles. Or horses. Definitely crocodiles or horses. Maybe.

Okay, I see a frog off to the left, a bird wearing a hat playing a saxophone off to the right, a cat (?) wearing a hat playing something small near its mouth and a lizard (??) with a horn fused to its snoot (???).



Other art forms represented: Sheet metal sculpture using things like soda cans.



There was a model of a cathedral made of corn husks that I forgot to take a picture of. There was silver jewelry and complex weaving and embroidery art, it was insane. I was blown away. Unrelated to anything, I liked these doves and leaves on this chair.

Coming up next: The beginning of Oaxaca.

Mexico 2019 Part 6.

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020

More art! First, the Museum of Modern Art which has an awesome interior if you like mid-modern architecture. The gift shop is in a pit under the stairs for God’s sake. Big fan.

Outside the museum is a sculpture of the beloved Mexican protein source, the grasshopper. I love his buck teeth.

The modern museum has a sweet little cafe in the back and they will give you a picnic basket full of sandwiches and such so you can go eat in the small but lovely sculpture garden. I didn’t get a chance to do that this time but next time for sure.

Alright, more murals by Not-Diego-Rivera. Now we delve into José Clemente Orozco. Here’s a brief description from Wikipedia:

José Clemente Orozco (November 23, 1883 – September 7, 1949) was a Mexican caricaturist and painter, who specialized in political murals that established the Mexican Mural Renaissance together with murals by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and others. Orozco was the most complex of the Mexican muralists, fond of the theme of human suffering, but less realistic and more fascinated by machines than Rivera. Orozco was known for being a politically committed artist, and he promoted the political causes of peasants and workers.

A truncated version would be, “This dude has STRONG OPINIONS and would like you to know them.” Get ready.

Orozco was commissioned to do a series of murals all around the inside of a courtyard. He started to create them, they were beautiful, they were inspired by Renaissance paintings, etc. And partway through he was like “Too nice! Repaint! Make oppressively depressing!”

Here’s an excellent example. Drunk rich man dancing with Blind Justice who’s blindfold has slipped and who’s wearing fancy shoes, possibly bought by the rich man. Don’t have to look too deep to figure out what Orozco is trying to say with that one.

Workers shaking hands, one of whom has a hammer. Communism? Sure, probably. Wouldn’t surprise me.

This was kind of funny. These beaten workers and folding a flag while Freddy Mercury’s head floats above them. Turns out the head was part of the original Renaissance-style painting and Orozco liked it so he didn’t paint over it, he just left it there.

Say what you want about the grim sentiments of his paintings, Orozco could paint hands. Like, really well.

Upstairs was a painting of God with the fat and rich off to one side wearing halos and on the other side are devils chasing a poor mother carrying her baby.

This was the only painting left from the original painting. It’s supposed to represent motherhood. Isn’t it nice and not a horrifying statement on society? Well, people couldn’t leave it alone. Women were upset because the ladies are naked so Orozco left it to piss those women off. But that’s not all. He said “I’ll make a portrait of you, good upstanding women.” Surprise, it was wildly unflattering.

This mural is called “Motherhood.”

Aaaaaand it’s fat rich women ignoring and stepping on a starving woman in the street. You couldn’t leave well enough alone, could you? You had to antagonize the already angry mural-painter, didn’t you? Nice job. You deserve this.

One more muralist. I can’t remember his name but his story is interesting. The muralist started his mural on one underside of an arch but he kept getting arrested and going to prison for acts of protest so it took him 40 years to finish the mural and you can really see how his work changed and evolved over time by the time he got to the other side.

Here’s a bit of his original style on one side of the stairs.

And the 40-years-later-style on the other side.

Despite the population being literate, murals continue to be a huge part of the Mexican experience. The street art is some of the best I’ve ever seen.

Next, Mexican craftspeople bringing their top-notch skills.