Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Fridays in Ocotlan, Oaxaca

Only twenty miles south of Oaxaca City lies the town of Ocotlan de Morelos and every Friday the market is bustling with activity.   It is one of the regions oldest and largest markets.  The market has more of a rustic atmosphere.  People come from the countryside, el campo, some local and some as far away as the Pacific coast.
Taking a break before completing their shopping for the week.
A successful sale of a spoon and a molinillo (the wood utensil on the right).    Securing the money inside her blouse followed by the sign of the cross in thanks to God for her first sale of the day.  A molinillo is a traditional wooden utensil that is used to mix the chocolate and milk together for the hot chocolate.  Made from one piece of wood, there are several loose rings that spin when rubbing the handle back and forth between your palms.
Pottery typical of the area, especially the green-glazed clay pieces.  The large jarros (pitchers) are great for margaritas and sangria and even work beautifully as a flower vase. Aren't those large wicker baskets in the background spectacular!
And of course my group and I had to stop and talk to this nice lady who was selling the typical embroidered apron, an ubiquitous item of clothing worn by nearly every women in every market in Mexico.  Most of us had to buy one.
Embroidered blouse, shirts and dresses that come in all sizes and colors.
This charming lady was from the weaving town of Teotitlan de Valle.  Her stall had an assortment of hand-woven rugs and purses that she is proudly displaying on her shoulders.
And baskets that are so beautifully woven.  I am a sucker every time.  I buy a taller natural-colored one to bring home to use as a laundry basket or trash can.  It fits perfectly into my suitcase and I just fill it with my clothes.
 Step right up and sample some Pulque or Tepache.  Pulque is a pre-Columbian drink made from 100% fermented (not distilled) sap of the maguey plant.  The milky white, midly alcoholic drink varies in strength by its age.  Locals usually add a splash of hot sauce or chili powder, a squeeze of lime and salt. Tepache is water mixed with Panela (unrefined sugar) and rinds of extremely ripe pineapple. The alcoholic drink ferments in three days, then is strained and served in colorfully painted, dried gourd halves.
There is a stall full of leather goods from beautifully crafted saddles to belts.
And no market in the Oaxaca valley is complete without their Chapulines, roasted grasshoppers.  This young man was pushing a large cart overflowing with Chapulines of all sizes.  The Chapulines are collected a certain time of year; from May which is their hatching time to late summer and early fall. 
A display of some of my favorite type of mangoes, the Ataulfo.  It's a vibrant yellow mango with a firm flesh that is void of any stringy fibers with a sweet, creamy flavor.
I love how the small onions are bundled up on display for sale.
I am always impressed by these giant wood paddles and spoons. 
Once inside the expansive indoor market, you will encounter numerous stalls selling bread, fish, dried chilies, chocolate...  There are many stands offering moles, tlayudas, empanadas, tacos and hot chocolate.  The tables between the stands are spotlessly clean with fancy oilcloth draping the tables and fresh flowers arranged in the regional pots.
One place that is a definite stop is La Cocina de Frida which has a picture of Frida Kahlo in it signage and owner, Beatriz Vasquez Gomez, who remarkable resembles the famous artist. 
The day is young, but she is off in another world.
Need your axe sharpened?
On the way out of the market, there is a stall selling an assortment of candles for your offerings in the church.
It is not uncommon to see tethered turkeys or goats for sale.
Gathering around the fountain, the ladies in their aprons sharing tales of their shopping day awaiting for a family member to take them back to their rancho.
It's a grand market and I could spend the whole day there exploring each vendor ans stall.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Fritz Scholder exhibition at the Denver Art Museum

Fritz Scholder's exhibition at the Denver Art Museum is a colorful, bold and impressive show.  It wasn't until 1967 that he began his Indian series in response to the stereo-type Indian on how the art world depicted of him; the noble warrior with all the cliche trappings.
He vowed never to paint an Indian but it was at the Institute of American Indian Arts that he changed his mind starting with the above Indian No. 1.  He thought that this image really did not look like an American Indian so he stenciled the word "Indian" onto the canvas.
Hopi Dancers - First State and Hopi Dancers - Second State -  Lithographs - 1974
Scholder was able to experiment with colors in his lithographs in a manner that he could not with paint.  He was able to create a black-and-white and a colorful image of the most common subjects, the Hopi dancers.  It is similar in placement of the images of Marilyn Monroe and Mao that Andy Warhol was famous for during the Pop art period.
Seated Indian with Rifle (After Remington) - 1976
Scholder borrowed this figure that was found in the 1885 painting, The Captive by Henry F. Farry. He originally thought this painting was by Remington.  

Farry's painted depicted this Indian guarding his captive.  Scholder chose to only feature the sitting Indian embraced in a sea of pink, thus letting the viewer imagine what role this Indian was portraying.
Matinee Cowboy and Indian - 1978
The division of the bright yellow between the two figures along with the stone-like stares on both of their faces makes it look like it is not the friendly encounter of two men shaking hands that one would imagine.  As time went on, his canvases grew stronger, bolder and more forceful.
Indian Power - 1972.
Even though he said he was not a protest painter, the fist in the air of this orange-colored rider on top of his purple and black, rather menacing mount speaks differently.  This became a popular poster among the native American people in the 1970's.
Walking to the Next Bar - 1974 
Pop Art was already a trend in the art world with artists like Andy Warhol showcasing images from popular culture from Campbell soup cans to Brillo pads in his paintings.
Scholder broke taboo when he portrayed the Indian as real people along with icons of the time.  Love the parking meters.
 Indian with Dog - 1972
I really like the composition of this piece and how the dog is outlined in the florescent green that continues to run along the floor where it meets the wall.
Indian and Rhinoceros - 1968
Again, another painting full of political symbols.  The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is a federal agency noted for breaking treaties.  Scholder associates the BIA with the rhinoceros which during the Cold War period that fought against fascism and communism, the Rhino was the nickname for the Russian Military tank.  And then he paints this Indian cradling a peace pipe in his left arm.  In the gallery, you can see a faint self-portrait of Scholder in the circle above his signature.
American Portrait with One Eye - 1975
He used bold, brilliant colors with wild brush strokes to call attention to the psychological reality of being an Indian in a white dominated environment.  He once said, "Color is what makes paintings different than any other medium and the challenge for any visual artist is to produce a strong and new visual experience for the viewer."  I do appreciate the way he worked the canvas and created such bold, colorful compositions.
Insane Indian No. 26 - 1972
The dark colors of the figure and the distorted, rather disturbing face contrasts perfectly with the yellow.
Indian with Blue Aura - 1967
The aura is the same successful technique he used with Indian with Dog.  Striking!

Great show and such a contrast from the previous blog I wrote about on Uffer and Hennings.  Enjoyed them both.