Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Library in Patzcuaro, Mexico

A few weeks ago, I was in Patzcuaro and the surrounding area traveling around and visiting many of the local artisans. It's a place that is very special to me along with San Miguel de Allende! In addition to the guided tours that I lead in and around San Miguel, I am planning a special tour to Patzcuaro and the area in 2011 (I have not selected the exact dates yet). Patzcuaro is a little over a three hour drive south of San Miguel de Allende. I always enjoy going to the Plaza Chica in Patzcuaro and going into the Gertudis Bocanega Library. I shot this from the patio of my hotel room one morning with the clouds hanging low over the lake. This will be one of my stops on my "Special 2011 Patzcuaro" tour.
Originally, this building was the San Augustin Convent founded in 1570. The library is named after the town's local heroine from Mexico's struggle for Independence in which she was later executed for her participation.
Not only is interior spectacular with it's beautiful vaulted, wood ceiling, but the library's mural painted by Juan O'Gorman is very interesting. O'Gorman was born in 1905 to a mining engineer/artist father of Irish origin and a Mexican mother. He became a well known architect and one of the first architects to break away from the traditional Mexican style. He was largely influenced by Le Corbusier. He built the home-with-studio for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. He was also a distinguished painter and muralist.
He began this mural in February of 1941 and finished it exactly a year later. Like most murals, this tells of the history of the state of Michoacan.

At the top of the mural is an erupting volcano. I find this particularly interesting because it was one year later that the nearby volcano, Paricutin, erupted. Aspects of the indigenous life and customs are depicted such as agriculture, hunting, mining along with ritual bathing.

Further down in the mural, O'Gorman depicts the evils of the Spanish conquest but also the good things that came of it, such as several priests who brought education and a variety of crafts. It was the first Bishop of Michoacan, Vasco de Quiroga, who introduced the Tarascan Indians of the region to the many skills in which have been passed down to their descendants. Such skills include pottery, copper products and woven wool goods. On my "Special 2011 Patzcuaro Tour," I will be taking a group to some of the remote villages in the area where weaving, ceramics and copper are still the main source of income.
Also interesting in the mural, if you carefully study the faces of the invading Spaniards, you will see the faces of Mussolini and Hitler. The Conquistadors, Fascists and Nazis were all considered the same.

It is an interesting piece of work and one that I know my group will love to see.

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