Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Murals in San Cristobal de Las Casas around the main cathedral

Just this month I lead a group of eleven of us around Chiapas, Mexico.  The earthquake in September of 2017 fortunately did not harm many people but it was the old churches,  convents and landmark buildings that suffered the most damage.  We could still enjoy the beautiful facades but entry to many of the buildings was prohibited.
There is Phil and Norma in the photo with the Cathedral de San Cristobal de Las Casas.
Corrugated metal fencing has been installed around all the old buildings that desperately need restoration.  Local artist have painted murals on these temporary barriers which I think are marvelous.  I love how this one vendor has positioned his goods right smack in the middle of the heart surrounded by flowers.
Colorful octopus with all his tentacles and suction cups.
Great Dia de los Muertos skull.
Abstract blue bird with a jaguar behind him.
Pretty goldfish.

She looks rather startled.

A bit of "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."
The side of the cathedral.
Mural of a mask.  
The slits below the blue eyes is where the person who wears the mask sees.  
This one is a Parachico, which is worn by the men in Chiapa de Corzo during the festival in January celebrating Saint Sebastian.  
During the 18th century, a wealthy woman, Maria de Angulo arrived from Spain with her crippled son.  She took her son to a curandero, a local healer called a namandiyuguá.  He instructed her to bath her son in the waters of a small lake called Cumbujuya.  Her son was miraculously cured.   To distract and amuse the boy, a local group disguised themselves as Spaniards with masks and began to dance, “para el chico” which means “for the boy."   According to one version of the story, this is what cured the child.  The tradition of these dancers began in 1711, leading the Spanish to call the event “para el chico”, which eventually evolved into "Parachicos".
Maria de Angulo was so extremely grateful, she donated food and supplies to the people which helped immensely since the region was going through a bad drought.
The giant mask is used in La Danza del Gigante in San Juan Chamula at Carnival. The dance represents the story of David and Goliath.  Goliath, who carries a wooden machete, repeatedly charges the audience and frightens the children.  We were fortunate to be in San Juan Chamula one day during carnival.  It was pretty exciting!
Two Jaguar masks surrounding the Jade mask of King Pakal of Palenque.  Jaguar dances are concerned with maintaining balance in the natural world and the agricultural cycle.

So realistic.
The backside of the cathedral.  I hope the funding comes soon to Chiapas so the beautiful, old buildings can be restored.  Maybe a "Maria de Angulo" will help out!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Museo de Los Altos de Chiapas Ex Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzmán has an unbelievable Maya textile collection

Located in the historic center of San Cristobal de Las Casas is the Museo de Lost Altos de Chiapas Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzmán.  The second floor is home to an amazing Maya textile collection from Chiapas, Mexico and Guatemala.  There are three collections on display from the Formento Cultural Banamex collection (1990 - 2000), the Guatemala collection (1920-2000) and the Pellizzi collection (1950 - 1979). 
The building dates back to the 17th century when the Dominicans occupied the convent until 1853.  It later became a national heritage site.
It is a beautifully displayed museum with drawers under each garment that pull out to showcase other huipils or cloths from the region that the garment that is on display is from.
This particular drawer displayed a women's cloth (pano de mujer), 1930 - 1940, from Chichicastenango, Guatemala.
San Andres Larrainzar, Chiapas huipil from 1975.
A man's ceremonial cloth, 2012, from Venustiano Carranza, Chiapas, the only Tzotzil weaving community in the tropical lowlands. 
Simply gorgeous!
A ceremonial napkin from San Antonio Aguas Calientes, Gautemala.  1950 - 1960.
A beautiful huipil from Chajul in Guatemala, around 1980 - 1990.
The Maya clothing has undergone changes over the years due to political, economic and religious factors.  The dress for the women during the Classic period (A.D. 2000- 90) was a huipil (a handwoven short blouse or long dress) and an enreado (a wrap skirt made of hand-woven fabric.  The configuration of the hand pleating at the waist varies from each region).  The men wore a taparrabo (a loincloth) and a tilma (a cloak-like outer garment).   It was not until the 16th century with the introduction of Catholicism the the dress changed, more of an emphasis that the whole body be covered, especially for the men. The introduction of silk and wool dramatically changed the weaving of the garments.
The 20th century brought major change with the use of industrial cotton thread available in countless colors and man-made fibers such as rayon which replaced silk and acrylic which replaced wool.  There was certainly an explosion of color in the 1970's and 1980's.
Today there is a large movement to bring back the natural dyes and ancient designs.
A gorgeous combination of colors on this huipil from Comalapa, Guatemala.
A wedding Huipil, circa 1970, from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.
Huipils from the Highlands in Chiapas, Mexico.
A huipil from San Juan El Bosque in Chiapas, 1975.  El Bosque is the most northern village in the Highlands where cross-stitch embroidery was originated.  Settled by refugees from San Juan Chamula after the Caste war of 1869.   Due to the warmer climate in El Bosque, the woolen dress from San Juan Chamula was substituted to a blue cotton skirt and a wide, red vertical striped huipil.
Love the colors on this huipil with its ancient designs from Tenejapa, Chiapas. 1972. 
 A huipil from Comalapa, Guatemala / 1986.   Such an interesting selection of colors.
A 1955 huipil from Magdalenas Aldama, Chiapas.  Legion has it that is was Mary Magdalene who taught the women how to weave these elaborate brocaded fabrics at the beginning of the world.  Many of the designs can be traced back to the Maya Classic period.
Pieces from San Juan Chamula (left) and Zinacantan (right).
Guatemala, 1980.
A wool huipil from San Juan Chamula, Chiapas / 1974.   Prior to the Dominicans arrival, woven pelts of rabbit and cotton were worn to ward off the cold.   The introduction of sheep's wool proved to be a far superior fabric.  I have a natural wool hand-woven cape that I use as a throw and it is so beautifully, tightly woven.  I can contest, is does keep you warm!
Huipil from Concepcion Chiquirichapa, Gautemala.  1980.
1990 - Huipil from Nebaj, Guatemala.
Zinacantan, Chiapas / 2015.  A wedding garment, a hand-woven huipil with feathers spun into the thread in the lower border and in the pre-conquest-type rectangular design below the neck opening. 
 Textiles from Guatemala and Mexico
1.  Shawl from Totonicapan, Guatemala / 1910 - 1920
2 and 3. See below
4. Skirt from San Juan Cotzal, Guatemala / 196- - 1970
5. Shawl from Totonicapan, Guatemala / 1980
6. Skirt from Chajul, Guatemala / 1940 - 1950
7. Cloth from Totonicapan, Guatemala / 1930
8.  Belt from Zinacantan, Mexico / 2006
9. Cloth from Santa Maria de Jesus, Guatemala / 1940-1950
10.  Skirt from San Pedro Sacatepequez, Guatemala / 1930 - 1940
11.  Cloth from Santa Maria de Jesus, Guatemala / 1940
12.  Skirt from San Pedro Sacatepequez, Guatemala / 1940 - 1950
13.  Skirt from San Pedro Sacatepequez, Guatemala / 1960 - 1970

2. A Huipil, from Tactic, Guatemala / 1979. 
Talk about a lively combination of color and design.
No. 3 - A skirt from Cuyotenanago, Guatemala / 1990
We visited the museo on the third day of my Magic of the Maya World tour that I lead just this month.  A definite visit when you are in San Cristobal de Las Casas!  I could have spent hours in the textile department.

Museo de Los Altos de Chiapas Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzmán
Avenida 20 de Noviembre s/n
San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Her Paris: Women artists in the Age of Impressionism at the Denver Art Museum

This exhibition showcases over 80 paintings by 37 women artists from 11 different countries who traveled to Paris to study and develop their careers between 1850 - 1920.
Paris was the core of the art world with all its museums, galleries, studios and vibrant city scene.  These women painters fought through the conventional academic system that had excluded them for centuries to create beautiful works that captured the life around them.
Self portraits and paintings of fellow artists were common.  The bulk of their training were from workshops and and special courses for they were not allowed  to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts until 1897.
Marcellini Desbooutin and His friends at The Louvre, before a Fresco by Botticelli
Norbert Goeneutte - 1892
The painting shows a young artist working at her easel duplicating the Botticelli's painting.  The large gap between her and the canvas and the men on the other side to me shows the division of men and women artists.
Berthe Morisot - 1885
Many of the women artist were influenced by some of the men artist of the period such as Degas, Monet and Pissarro.
In the Studio
Marie Bashkirtseff - 1881
An advocate for a women's art academy in Paris, the painting shows women working 
side-by-side at the Academic Julian.
A look of fascination in Mary Cassatt's, The Reader, 1877.  Cassatt came from a wealthy family and could have settled for a traditional role in life by getting married.  Instead she convinced her parents to let her study at the Pennsylvania Academy of fine arts before moving to Paris.
Dans le Bleau (Into the Blue)
Amelie Beaury-Saurel - 1894 
Amelie Beaury-Saurel is a Spanish artist, business woman, art instructor and the wife of the founder of the Academic Julian, Rodolphe Julian.   I really like how she captured the woman staring out into the blue while smoking.  It is speculated it is a self portrait since the identify of the woman is unknown.
Portrait of an Elderly Lady in a Bonnet: Red Background
Mary Cassatt - 1887 
Many critics found her portraits too realistic and not very flattering of the subjects.  I personally love this portrait, the colors and brush strokes are wonderful. 
Woman with Fan
Mary Cassatt - 1891-1892 
With the use of pastels,  sketches could be done spontaneously, right on the spot.  Great movement through out the painting.
Under the lamp
Marie Bracquemond - 1887
Bracquemond was married to a painter and engraver whom she met at the Louvre.  At one point in their life, they collaborated on the manufacturing of porcelain for Haviland.  While Gauguin stayed with them, he influenced her work by using more coarsely woven canvases and to use this rough texture into her work.  As seen above, a chalkier looking surface appears. The dinner portrait of artist Alfred Sisley and his wife is very interesting in that the women takes on a stronger presence where Sisley is rather washed out with the light from the gas lamp and the steam from the bowl, almost like he is part of the wallpaper. 
Lunch in the Greenhouse 
Louise Abbema - 1877
Originally when presented at the Paris Salon of 1877, it was critiqued as being "flat" and that the people were painted with little emotion.   But the year later, it was acquired by the Musee des Beaux-Arts.  I particularly like the wealth and opulence is displays of having a eloquent luncheon in one's greenhouse.
Sita and  Sarita (Woman with a Cat)
Cecilia Beaux - 1893-94 
Elegant! I like how the figure's hair blends with the cats and how Beaux aligned the hazels eyes of both.
Among the Flowers
Louise Abbema - 1892
 As in the Sita and Sarita, the color white dominates.
Three Women with Parasols (The Three Graces)
Marie Bracquemond - 1880
Great color and lighting.
Children Playing on the Beach
Mary Cassatt - 1884
Depictions of children's life were extremely popular.  The famous French art dealer made an contract with Cassatt at the end of the 1880's in which he paid her for a set number of paintings each year.  This was a major break through for it was customary for him to only have such financial agreements with male artists such as Degas, Monet, Pissaro...  This was truly a magnificent achievement by Cassatt.
The Artist's Daughter, Julie with Her Nanny 
Berthe Morisot - 1884
Kitty Kielland - 1890 
After studying in Paris for ten years, Kielland returned to her hometown of Oslo, Norway.  She was instrumental in the development of plein air painting in Norway.   Many times she would venture out in bitter-cold weather conditions and paint on canvases as big as six feet wide.
Autumn, Portrait of Lydia Cassatt
Mary Cassatt - 1880
It was common to represent fashionably dressed women symbolizing the four seasons.  Cassatt paints her sister, Lydia, the portrayal of autumn.  Sadly, Lydia was in her final stages of a kidney disorder that would eventually take her life two years later.   About a dozen of her paintings were of Lydia, the only mementos of their sisterly bond.
The Farm 
Hanna Pauli - 1887 - Sweden
Beach Parasol, Brittany (Portrait of Amanda Sidwall)
Emma Lowstadt-Chadwick - 1880 - Sweden
Lowstadt painted her friend and fellow artist painting on the beach with its beautiful light of the west coast of France.  Like most Swedish artists, she painted plein air. 
Unter den Lind in Berlin
Anna Bilinska-Bohdanowicz - 1890
Anna Bilinska-Bohdanowicz transformed this well known boulevard into a modern urban landscape.  She and her husband planned on returning to Warsaw so she could start a painting school.  Unfortunately this never came to be due to her early death.
The Beach of Dieppe  (View from the Chateau)
Eva Gonzales - 1871-72
Gonzales, whose father was a well-known novelist and mother an exceptional harpist, trained in Paris with Charles Chaplin.  By 1869, she was the only formal pupil of Edouard Manet who taught her to paint in the impressionistic style.
The Tormented
Virginie Demont-Breton - 1905
The daughter of painter and teacher, Jules Breton, she acquired her father's gift of realism and was fascinated with the fisherman families from Wissant, a village she moved to in the north-west part of France.  Such grief and strength is shown in The Tormented.
The Harvesters
Anna Ancher - 1905
She and her artist husband returned from Paris to an artists colony in Skagen, Denmark.
Both devoted their work to the rural life and the working man.  I really like the way she positioned the harvesters and the beautiful color palette that she created in this painting.
Churchgoers (Easter Morning)
Helene Schjerfbeck - 1895-1900
Many of the women artist returned to their native country to find a sharp contrast in life to one they had experienced in Paris, especially in the art world.  Except for this paining Schjerfbeck did not exhibit her work in Finland for almost ten years after returning from Paris.
Peasant Woman from Normandy
Asta Norregaard - 1889
Beautiful depiction of the clothing, the wheat and just how the subject is poised.
Fisher Girl of Picardy
Elizabeth Nourse - 1889
Looking out to sea shows a mother and her son enduring everyday life.
Plowing in Nivernais
Rosa Bonheur - 1850
A head of her time, Bonheur acquired special permission (can you believe it!) from the police to wear men's clothing in public, lived with a women and preferred to paint more masculine subjects such as these Charolais cattle above, a favorite of the farmers at the time.  What great composition and lighting.  It's a large piece, 52.5" high x 102" wide.
Listed for the Connaught Rangers: recruiting in Ireland
Lady Elizabeth Butler - 1878
Lady Butler concentrated on military scenes.  This particular painting stands out not only for its stunning lighting and composition but for its depiction of child soldiers.  For one of her paintings, she went as far as to studying the anatomy of horses at the circus and even bought a field where she requested the British military to run military exercises so she could witness the smoke patterns and even asked them to charge her on horseback.
Offering the Panel to the Bullfighter
Mary Cassatt - 1873 
Cassatt spent most of her life in Paris but she did travel to Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain to study the masters.   While in Seville, she painted a series of paintings depicting the working class.  Above, this flirtatious young lady is offering a glass of panal, a popular drink, to the handsome torero.
The Meeting
Marie Bashkirsteff - 1884
 I see mischief on those young boys faces!
In the Wash House
Anna Elizabeth Klumpke - 1888
Fabulous light streaming in through the large window.

Her Paris 
The Denver Art Museum

I have only hit on a few of my favorite painting in the show.
I suggest purchasing the book on the show, it has very interesting biographies on all the 37 artist and full color photos of each painting featured in the show.
If you have not seen it, go!  The show closes on January 15.