Thursday, April 29, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
The bags are full of good stuff. One special treat is the book, Visions of San Miguel: The Heartland old Mexico, which is full of interesting text and fabulous photography. There are two maps of San Miguel, one with a legend of historic sites. The other map is my own creation with a legend of restaurants, shops and useful places to know about (like a money exchange office, pharmacy, packing/shipping store, location of where you are staying and my house). There are my special lists, such as, "Some of Robin's favorite restaurants," "Some of Robin's favorite shopping spots," and more of Robin's lists. And there are more goodies in the bag. I won't give away all my secrets. Join me on one of my tours and see for yourself. And for those who have been on my tours, please tell your friends and have them check out my blog! Muchas gracias.
Monday, April 26, 2010
My last post was about the Bellas Artes in San Miguel de Allende. On my guided walking tour, we spent some time in the cavernous room towards the back of the school. This 5,555 square foot, eighty-four foot long room was once the nuns dining room. The acoustics are unbelievable! David Alfaro Siqueiros was lecturing at the Bellas Artes and the director, Alfredo Campanella, was under pressure from the GI students to improve the courses so he employed Siqueros to paint a mural. Siqueiros was the founder of the Mexican Mural movement in the 1940's. Other muralist part of that movement were Diego Rivera and Jose Clements Orozco.
Siqueiros had always admired this room and visualized a mural that would cover the entire space; the vaulted ceiling, walls and floor. His plan was to create a perspective of the mural to change as the viewer moved around the room. The mural project started with 24 students and teachers under his supervision. It depicted the life and work of Ignacio Allende, one of the founding fathers of the Mexican Revolution of 1810. The bolt of lightening down the middle of the ceiling symbolizes the struggle of the Mexican Independence.
The mural was never completed, for Siqueiros and Campanella had a falling out. Siqueiros shoved him down the stairs (really!), because of a dispute over salaries and the lack of art supplies. The fact that Siqueiros was a lifelong member of the communist party did not help either. The grievances of students were never met by Campanella and the majority of them left with Siqueiros in support. The school was eventually closed down.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
At one time, the Bellas Artes was part of a magnificent complex and the buildings and gardens went on for blocks. Originally it was a convent created by the donation of the eldest daughter of the Canal family back in 1754. It has seen major changes over the years from a convent, military outpost, a private art school and currently, a government run cultural center, "El Nigromante", for the arts. Today it is host to lectures, art exhibits and many concerts. The interior courtyard is exceptionally large, especially for a convent in Mexico. Thanks to the numerous philanthropic endeavours in town, this garden has been beautifully restored.
In January of 1948, Life magazine ran an article with the headline, "GI Paradise: Veterans go to Mexico to study art, live cheaply and have a good time." Back then, apartments rented for $10 a month, maids were $8 a month, rum was 65 cents a quart & cigarettes 10 cents a pack. Due to this article, 6,000 applied to the Bellas Artes. The town's population at the time was only 10,000! 100 applications were accepted making the total enrollment 140.
After the revolution of 1910 and the decline of the silver mining, San Miguel was dangerously close to becoming a ghost town. It was the arts that has brought San Miguel back to life and it has prospered ever since.
Friday, April 23, 2010
The market in Patzcuaro sells the jarros de barro (clay pots) to make the hot chocolate in. Note that some of the pots are slightly rounded on the bottom and tapered at the top. This is to keep the liquid from splashing out when you are stirring it. It also has a pouring spout and a handle.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Here's Ann and Diane hamming it up for the camera.
I limit the group to 13 people so we can have an intimate experience and move at our own pace. We really enjoy all the sights in San Miguel.
Next door, at a great shop that has beautiful textiles, clothing, rebozas and a lot more, Trudy is trying on a hand made shawl with the help of her daughter, Linda.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
The architecture is completely different from that of San Miguel. I find it to be more like that of Toledo, Spain with is tile roofs, white and reddish, rust painted walls, wood spindles instead of wrought iron in the windows and huge columns and beams everywhere.
We were sitting under the portale above, having something cold to drink. I shot this photo the next morning and the little table and chairs had not been set out yet - with my camera in tow, I was up taking advantage of the morning light and the town was just waking up. (Last time I was here, I was with my husband in August and it was raining "gatos y perros." We sat here for a while until the rain subsided and warmed up with a healthy shot of Jose Cuervo Traditional.)
Back to cooooooling off with my lemonada. This interesting looking gentleman came walking by and I could not help myself but to ask about his attractive clothing. He was so happy to stop and chat. He told us that he is part of an older men's dance group, that they had won first prize in a competition in Morelia and he was on his way to the Casa de la Cultura for an event that started at 7:00. I think his main motivation was that there was going to be free food! He was very impressed and excited about that. This beautiful, old building was constructed over a prehistoric temple. Originally, it was the second Jesuit college in Mexico, Mexico City having the first. The white structure on the left is the Cultural center.
The interior patio was being set up for a performance. What a treat to be here! We sat on the half wall under the arches. It was just a beautiful evening. People kept filtering in and eventually it was a full house. The group, Bola Suriana, playing that night were incredible. They are from the nearby capital of Michoacan, Morelia and have been together for 18 years. Over time, they have developed their own style, a variety of Mexican and Latin American folk music with an emphasis on their own heritage from Michoacan. Many of the songs relate to the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and the name of the group was taken from Zapata's army.
Bola Suriana in Patzcuaro Click on this to check out one of their performances that evening.
Monday, April 12, 2010
It is constructed of corn stalks and glue made from orchid bulbs. The glue not only seals the statue, it also preserves the vegetable matter. Leather thongs were used to emulate muscles and veins. Even though it is life size, it only weights a few pounds.
Back in the 1500's, this statue and a similar one were being delivered by two friars to San Miguel de Allende. They were ambushed out side of town and both friars were murdered. It was rumored that the blood of one of the friars stained one of the statues. One statue was sold back to some Spaniards who in turned donated to La Parroquia.
My group and I were just in this church on my walking tour of San Miguel this week and they were very interested in hearing about the history behind each church. This particular story really intrigued them. One lady, a docent at the Denver Art Museum, had heard about statues being made out of corn husks but had never actually seen one. With the smooth appearance of the statue, one would never know it is made of corn husks. It's a pretty amazing piece of art!
Friday, April 9, 2010
They transformed the property and buildings into a striking home (above) and gallery (below). It has been referred to as "contemporary organic" and even "modern baroque."
Located five miles outside of San Miguel de Allende, their gallery and home sits on eight acres among beautiful, old mesquite trees and lush landscaping.
Yesterday morning, my group and I traveled to the countryside to tour two homes. Both have outstanding art collections and Shacter's property is one of my all time favorite stops.The gallery houses one of the best folk art collections around. Their home also displays their amazing, personal folk art along with a few other pieces for purchase.
Mayer has one of the finest private collections of old serapes from the "post-classic" period dating from 1875 to 1940. They are available to view (and purchase) upon request.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
1/4 cup triple sec
Monday, April 5, 2010
I have bought a few citrus trees here in the past, every time hoping to have brought home a lemon tree. Lemons that we buy in the states are unheard of at the market or grocery store. Well, one out of three purchase wasn't too bad. I now have one grapefruit tree, one lemon tree and one lime tree. Maybe I should get an orange tree! Hmmm, sounds like the start of good sangria! Now, all I need is some vino tinto (red wine) and some brandy.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Thursday, April 1, 2010
This is my particular favorite, Santo Pascal, the patron saint of cooks and the kitchen! Pascal, or more correctly, Pascal Baylon, often served as a cook and was widely known for his unfailing courtesy and humility.
Getting a little hard of hearing, she still greets me with a twinkle in her eye, a gentle handshake and invites me to sit for a visit.