Friday, September 30, 2011

Manuel Lepe

I just discovered some note cards that I have had for over 30 some years.  The artist is Manuel Lepe who was born in Puerto Vallarta in 1936.  He was the creator of the naif style which is referred to as Vallarta Art.  He is the only Mexican artist to be registered in the French Directory of Naif Art.  With no formal training, he painted mostly themes based on the landscape and everyday life in Puerto Vallarta.
He lived during the one of Puerto Vallarta's elegant and blooming stages, at the time of the  filming of John Houston's The Night of the Iguana.
This image really depicts the personality of the Mexican children playing, fishing and swimming.
What could be better than a birthday party with a pinata.  
Many of his paintings were used in the town's first posters promoting Puerto Vallarta as a tourist destination.  I can see why, he really captured the spirit of the Mexican people, especially the children.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sensational color at the Denver Botanic Gardens

What a beautiful morning at the Botanic Gardens, the temperature was perfect and the morning light was spectacular.  The Allan Houser sculpture exhibition could not have found a better temporary home but among the plants and flowers in the gardens.  I wrote about his sculptures on Friday but I had to share some of my photos of the brilliant flowers.
The colors just popped in the morning light.
 The shades of pink are so beautiful with the golden center of this Cosmo.
The fresh green and texture of this succulent reminds me of all the ones in the greenhouse at the Botanic Gardens in San Miguel de Allende.  That particular greenhouse has over a 1,000 different cacti and succulents. 
 The lilies in the ponds were attracting a lot of bees.  Almost surreal looking.
This photo looks like one of Monet's water lily paintings.  The deep blue of the water is such a brilliant contrast with the pinks of the water lilies and the leaves.
The trees are starting to turn colors around town, I will have to return soon to see what the gardens have in store for me. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Allan Houser Exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Morning Prayer - 1987 
It was a beautiful morning in Denver and the temperatures were not going to climb up into the 90's so we decided to head over the the Botanic Gardens and see the Allan Houser sculpture exhibition.  Houser is one of the most renowned modern native artists of the 20th century.
Homeward Bound 
The Botanic Gardens is a natural fit with Houser's sculptures.  I just love how the young Indian woman is cradling the little lamb as the sheep take the lead with her dog bringing up the rear. 
Houser was born in 1914 just after the release of his parents from a prison camp in Oklahoma.  His father was with the small band of of Chiracahuas when their leader, Geronimo, surrendered to the US army in 1886 in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico.
He successfully combined abstract and figurative styles with When Friends Meet.   I like how the faces are just a void space.
The morning shadows played beautifully on the Corngrinder.
Sacred Rain Arrow is very reminiscent of the Art Deco motif of an Indian shooing an arrow.  Pretty magnificent.  Just recently, this image was selected for the Oklahoma license plate.
From every angle, these two women pose such a striking composition.
It is an interesting exhibit and one that I would recommend seeing, especially right at 9:00 when the Gardens open. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bittersweet, artisanal cuisine in Denver

Len and I had dinner at Bittersweet over on Alameda and Pennsylvania in Denver the other night with our friends, Kathy and Dennis.  It is in 1950's gas stations that was turned into a "farm-to-table" restaurant.  Chef Olav Peterson harvests veggies and herbs from the raised beds that surround the restaurant and uses those fresh ingredients in his dishes.
Len started with a "sweetbread Rubeun" - sweetbreads on a toasted piece of caraway brioche topped with pickled tomatoes, a creamy Jarlsberg cheese fondue and garnished with a big caper.
My pork belly and seasonal mushrooms mixed in with some potato gnocchi and braising liquid from the pork belly was to die for.  Sublime!
Kathy gave me a taste of the of her duck confit ravioli in a garlic broth.  Next time I will have that as my starter.
I was not denied duck for the evening thou.  I had a flavorful duck served with grilled frisee and a warm melody of cherries, bacon and onion.  Really intense flavors.
The Halibut dish was a pretty presentation the way it was served on a rectangular plate that was painted with a strip of tomato sauce, then a strip of avocados.  The Halibut sat on top of a heirloom tomato salad.  Perfectly grilled.

We definitely will go back.

500 E. Alameda Ave.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Independence Day in San Miguel de Allende

September 16 in Mexico and especially in San Miguel de Allende is a very important day. 
San Miguel’s favorite son, Ignacio Allende, was born here in 1779.  He was a fervent believer in Mexico’s independence from Spain, and on September 16, 1810, he joined Miguel Hidalgo in an armed uprising.  Both Allende and Hidalgo were executed, but in 1821 Mexico finally achieved independence.
San Miguel is decorated for the occasion with everything white, green and red, the colors of the Mexican Flag.  I thought I would share with you some of my favorite "flag" color photos.

This was taken up at the botanic gardens just outside of San Miguel. The fruit (tunas) of the Prickly Pear cactus are ripe for the picking.
The pig was poking around just after a hard rain over in Cocucho, the town in the state of Michoacan well known for its large clay pots.

This is the center part of a ferris wheel that four Papantla voladores (flyers) stand on and go around and around and around....  I don't know how they can walk after all that spinning.
Papel Picados (cut paper banners) in the jardin, the main square in San Miguel.
At brunch one Sunday, Le Crepe had these red Gladiolas with a few white ones thrown in sitting in the window by our table.  Some of my favorite flowers.
Viva Mexico!!!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It was a busy week with flowers!

I have had my design hat on a lot lately,  I've been extremely busy with my interior design business.  I have been helping a friend of mine who lives down the street after her pipes broke this winter and caused some major flooding in her house.  We gutted the kitchen and main floor bathroom, reupholstered living room furniture, bought new rugs, furniture and lighting.  It has been a great project and Julie and I have had so much fun!  Besides running her own business, she has been planning her daughter's wedding...  I was fortunate to be pulled into the loop, on goes my event planning and floral arranging hat.  Last Tuesday I picked up 40 stems of white Star Gazer Lilies, got them home and put them in warm water so the flowers would be completely open for the wedding on Saturday.
Thursday night I put together eleven centerpieces for the rehearsal dinner.  The square glass containers had lime green floral foam oasis in them with a pavee of pink pompoms, yellow yarrow, green hypericum berries and a dusty blue Eryngium (thistle). 
 I just love the combination of hot pink and limey green together.
Friday was the day that I made three huge arrangements, 17 centerpieces and four small arrangements.  Lucky for me, the church was just two blocks from my house.  Julie came over and sat in the back of my Saab with the hatch back open holding one centerpiece at a time as we delivered them to the church.  Of course, I honked all the way down the street like we were in a parade.
Saturday the tables were set up around noon.  I showed Julie how to make "Birds of Paradise" napkins and she folded over 160 napkins.  
The white overlays I had ordered from my friend Guadalupe in San Miguel de Allende.  They are made from re-cycled fabric and the designs are cut out like "papel picados."  The same technique is used to make the banners one sees strung across the streets in San Miguel.  (Guadalupe has a very successful event planning business.  If I were getting married, I know where I would go!  Checkout her website at )   I received the overlays within four weeks from when I ordered them so we had plenty of breathing room before the wedding.  The reception was on the rooftop of the Denver Athletic Club and Julie was worried about the space being rather drab.  I said, make the tables the focal point and no one will look at the roof's covered ceiling with its metal supports.  It worked, the tables settings were elegant.
Julie's daughter, Blair, wanted centerpieces with a lot of greens, textures and white flowers (no roses...).  I used white Lisianthus, white tulips, Queen Anne's Lace, silver Brunia, a dusty blue Eryngium, green hypericum, berried and seeded Eucalyptus.  A perfect Colorado look!
It was a beautiful evening, not a cloud in the sky and one that mother and daughter will never forget.  I am glad I was able to be part of their special week.

Monday, September 5, 2011

El Charco del Ingenio in San Miguel de Allende

The other day I spent the morning up at El Charco del Ingenio, the botanic gardens, just on the outskirts of San Miguel de Allende.  What a colorful outing I had.
El Charco extends over some 250 acres of nature reserve just a few minutes from the center of town.  Twenty years ago this land was purchased by a non-profit group to protect it from developers.  It was considered a sacred place by the Chichimeca Indians, the first settlers of the area.    There are panoramic lookouts, nature trails and picnic areas.  It is paradise for bird watchers.
The gardens have an extensive collection of Mexican plants along with over 1,000 species of cacti and succulents.
The green house is home to many of the different cacti.
The Organ Pipe Cacti make a spectacular wall!
The tunas (fruit) are ripe for the picking on the Prickly Pear Cactus.
At the entrance of El Charco del Ingenio, there is a cute little gift shop along with cacti for sale and an outdoor snack bar.  It is open daily from sunrise to sunset and admission is only a mere 40 pesos.  I like to take a cab up there and then walk home, hitting the market on the way back.  If you are tight on time and have already had your exercise walking the trails, the gal in the gift shop will call you a taxi.   Either way you do it, it makes for a great morning.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Beware of the Dog

I was in Taos for a friend's wedding and my husband, Len, and I were driving around and we came upon a small adobe church in the outskirts of town.  How funny was this little scene with this cat sitting next to the "beware of the dog" sign.  We never did see the dog.