Mexico City Part 2: Artitecture

Aha! You thought you caught a typo in the title of this post, didn’t you? Nope. Just me being clever with my art and architecture theme.

First, ART! We simply had a blast exploring the art fairs and stalls filled with folk and contemporary art. It was invaluable to have our friend and host, Hershey, along explaining each traditional craft as well as introducing us to artists – her friends as well as those she’s frequented and supported over the years.

One of those artist friends was Victor Uhthoff. We met him at the Saturday Bazaar in San Jacinto Plaza. A panoramic image of the plaza is below followed by Joel’s picture of me trying to take that panoramic. You can click on the panoramic image if you’d like to see it larger.

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We loved Victor’s artwork and kept thinking about it as we wandered around the other stalls. By the time we returned to his, our favorite was sold! Luckily for us he promised to paint another one that would be ready for pickup a week later, the day before we left for home. And so we visited his studio that next week (very cool!) to pick up our piece. A few pictures of his creative space are below (that’s me on the phone chatting with Joel’s sister, Jane, who was art shopping via us!)

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And here is a pic of Victor pretending to paint our piece and the next with it still lying on his desk with paints nearby.

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And the full image – it reminds us of our close-knit neighborhood, West Central, with the houses tight together and the neighborly folks popping up.

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We loved his place so much that we bought a second colorful piece.

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And here is me modeling the one that Jane purchased. It was a win-win-win day for all of us!

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Here’s one we almost bought before he offered to make one for us. It’s called Aquarium. Isn’t it fun?

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A couple of other treasures came home with us from the Saturday Bazaar. Do you guys remember that time that Luchador Adam offered de-masked Luchador Eve a hostess cupcake and Eve turned away in disgust thinking, ‘Seriously? It’s been just the two of us in this garden for how long and he still doesn’t know I prefer Twinkies?’ All the while the baby-faced snake looked on happily.  It’s my favorite part of the story and we thought artist Mauro Teran captured it perfectly.

We also loved the folk-art paintings by the Lorenzo family and purchased two luchador prints for Calvin and Drew. Their family story about this sacred art form is so interesting. One of the Lorenzo sons selling at the fair told us that he is still learning the craft and thus contributes to the group paintings at this point, but does not do any on his own. The two pieces below were done by son, Aureliano, who has mastered the craft.

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And of course one for me because there’s nothing like the sacred masculine and feminine represented with the Virgin de Guadalupe and a pink Luchador. I believe there is a rule that if artwork makes you laugh out loud you are supposed to buy it. This piece was completed by Jesus, another Lorenzo son.

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So with those awesome purchases behind us, we set out on one of our missions for the week – to find a replacement set of talavera salt and pepper shakers for daughter, Alexandra. She bought some for herself in Puebla, Mexico when she was there for school and left them behind in Boulder when she moved to South Korea. (Wow! Just writing that sentence reminded me of the colorful life she’s created for herself!) It took several markets and many texted pictures of options sent before we landed on this set.

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We also stumbled upon some hand carved utensils at, of all places, a plant nursery and bought them for her to help furnish her kitchen.

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A highlight of the trip was a jaunt to a papel picado studio/factory in Xochimilco. If you’re not sure what that is, you’ll recognize it immediately when you visit here. Being a paper cutting artist myself, it was so interesting to see the artisans at work creating the colorful paper flags BY HAND, 100 at a time!! A still photo and a video are below. (Notice the carpal tunnel wrist brace. Ouch!)

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And a close up of the tools used along with the lead base goes under the stack of papers to cut. Those shorter tools are those used most often and thus banged down in size.

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Music, another art form, made its way into our trip as well. We stumbled upon the Coyoacan International Jazz Festival one evening and heard the most tremendous band. Later we learned that the lead bassist had played with Chick Corea.

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But we didn’t need to go far to enjoy good music. Every day we were serenaded by the concert pianist that lives in the apartment below the one in which we stayed – Guadalupe Parrondo. We felt like we should leave her a daily tip or at least offer her a standing ovation. Instead, she gave US one of her CDs as we were leaving. It’s beautiful. I’m listening to it as I write this. Check her out.

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And of course there were hosts of small mariachi bands as well as street and bus performers everywhere. We learned what a true, traditional mariachi band was like at the Ballet Folklorico. The folk dancing was terrific, but it was the mariachis that blew us away. No pictures from the show itself except this teaser.

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We do however have photos of the drop-dead gorgeous Palacio de Bellas Artes where the Ballet Folklorico was staged. Which is a perfect segue to the architecture of our trip. Here it is lit up at night.

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And inside is equally mind blowing. The stage’s curtain is made of Tiffany glass and rises straight up when the show begins.

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This is another gem of the city’s center. I can’t recall what it is, but it’s a beaut!

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The Angel of Independence lit up at night.

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The post office. You know, where you go to mail a letter, buy stamps and gawk.

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And then there’s the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral – two photos straight on taken from the Zocalo plaza and then one pic of both of us on the side of the Cathedral.

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Inside the Cathedral is jaw dropping, but what grabbed me was the little chapel dedicated to the Saint of the Rebozo which is the typical shawl worn by Mexican women.

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Looking from the Cathedral across the street at the Zocalo. This is where huge gatherings occur including protests. Pretty quiet on this day.

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A panoramic of the Zocalo and its surrounding buildings. Feel free to click on it to see it larger.

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The Cathedral is magnificent, of course, but the fact that it’s built nearly on top of the ancient Aztec sacred Templo Mayor makes it even more amazing. In the front courtyard of the Cathedral there are windows in the ground so you can see the ruins of the temple below. The inside scoop is that when Cortes ordered it to be built, the Spaniards asked the indigenous people where the ancient temple had been. Knowing that they were going to desecrate their sacred ground with their own structure, they pointed about 100 yards away from the center of their long-ago-destroyed temple. Thus, the heart of the Templo Mayor was able to be later uncovered. So of course we wandered through the its unccovered ruins.

Here is a picture of Hershey and me in front of the temple ruins with the Cathedral in the background on the left and a modern skyscraper with its spire further recessed. I just love the old and new side by side. (And I don’t mean me and Hershey!)

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A couple of close ups. Yeah, those are skulls in the second pic.

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The white building in the picture below across from the Temple has a rooftop restaurant where we had a beer and a snack prior to venturing into the ruins. The pic below that shows us at that restaurant looking down over the ruins.

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On another day we combined art and architecture and wandered around the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) where murals abound! That’s actually a mosaic mural covering all four sides of the library!

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Also on campus is Espacio Escultorio or the Mexican Stonehenge as Hershey calls it – a collaboration by several artists in the 1970’s creating identical impressive stone sculptures in a circle around volcanic rocks. It’s so large it’s impossible to get a full photo of it. Concerts are sometimes held on those flat lava rocks where we’re standing. Can you imagine the acoustics?

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Climbing up to the top of one was MUCH easier than getting back down.

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We wandered into the Museo Casa del Risco in the San Angel neighborhood to bear witness to this beauty – a 1931 mosaic fountain made from abalone shells, Chinese porcelain and Talavera ceramic plates from Puebla. It honestly made me want to immediately start gluing some stuff together, aka mosaic-ing.

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All of this big-city impressive architecture and art was wonderful, AND we loved wandering the quieter streets of the Coyoacan neighborhood where Hershey (and let’s not forget, Frida) live(d).

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I mean, where else can you see mannequin legs out a window other than on quaint side streets?

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One last image taken in Xochimilco. Art or architecture? You decide. All I know is that someone forgot their ladder today.14

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4 Comments on “Mexico City Part 2: Artitecture

  1. Hi there,
    I was wondering if you have Victor Uhthoff’s email address. Just returned from Mexico and got 2 0f his paintings and would like him to paint one more for me.
    Thanks,
    Cristina

    Like

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Regina Leffers McCaleb, Ph.D.

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