Sunday, July 25, 2021

Daughter of Tonantzín

When Amy gets an idea for a painting, I can “see” the light go on. Then, with a burst of energy she goes to work. It is like tapping pure water, rising from an aquifer deep in the earth, bringing life to flow over the terrain.

Daughter of Tonantzín. acrylic on canvas, 24" x 36"

I enjoyed being near her while she painted her most recent work called, Daughter of Tonantzín.

Amy said:

“I have been a bit slow in getting to my paints since moving to Mexico last spring. My art has always had its inspiration from landscapes, people and places I have lived. I must feel them before I can paint them. So southern Mexico is very new and my DNA hasn’t fully absorbed the magic and majesty.

I have always loved Guadalupe, the dark skinned Madonna and her predecessor Tonantzín, the ancient mother goddess of Mexico. I intend to do a series of three paintings, which depict the descendants of Tonantzín who walk the rocky paths of my new home. The Zapotec women are humble and quiet; they are the daughters of Tonantzín/Guadalupe. Sacred in their own right.”

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Have The Life That Is Waiting

 The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek. ― Joseph Campbell

Outside my back door is a small shady glade with canna lilies ten feet tall. They are always blooming. The place is so magical that it instantly claims my sense of place and time. When I arrive there, no matter what I’ve been thinking or doing, I am transported to the “here and now”. 

I am living with the earth. Every day roaming on the property, planting, pulling weeds, tending, cutting grass, observing. Secretly, I think I have wanted to do this for a long time but was not in the right place and time of life. Even so, today I confided to Amy that I feared losing my creative edge; after all, I am an artist. “Don’t worry,” she said, “ that won’t happen.”
For the time being, photography has taken precedence over painting. This has happened in the past particularly when I have been traveling extensively. Being out and about exploring, it is easy to have my camera at hand. My artistic eye for subject matter and composition guides my hand. 

Meanwhile, adventures continue. We went to a birthday party with food, drink, orchestra and forty dancers in traditional costumes. And as a backdrop to the events were wall murals painted by art students that copied Amy’s illustrations from the book Dreamcarver.

At Dainzú site

San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya

We took a hike with a group that explored the ancient ruins of Dainzú, a Zapotec archaeological site first occupied 700-600 BC. Then sauntered through fields of agave (used to produce mezcal spirits—takes about twenty years before the plants are ready) until we reached a village, San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya, that is home to a gem of a church. The construction of this work dates from the middle of the 16th century and its creators were Dominican friars. We could not go inside, but the doors were open and let enough light in that I could stand and marvel at the wall and ceiling decorations and sacred paintings and sculptures.

Our Mexican friends Mayolo and Marta went with us to the village of Tlacolula de Matamoros which has a thriving Sunday market that we wandered through. I bought a watering can hand made from tin, some herbal medicine and sundries, while Amy bought handmade aprons and some organic foods to take home. We visited the village church: the spectacular Capilla del Señor de Tlacolula (16th century), also known as the Chapel of the Martyrs. It is completely covered with polychrome stucco and mirrors, and contains a series of statues of the most macabre martyrs (crucified, beheaded, stabbed, with an ax to the head ...). Precious wrought iron gates stand amid the baroque interior.

Church at Tlacolula

No sooner had we begun the forty-five minute drive back to Oaxaca than we encountered stalled traffic on the highway. Mayolo got out and hiked to a police car only to find that protestors had closed the highway. This is the second time Amy and I have had the bad luck to encounter such civil disobedience. 
It would be a three hour wait! We turned around and went to Mitla, a nearby town famous for an archaeological zone—one of the most important in the state of Oaxaca . It was inhabited by the Zapotecs after the fall of Monte Albán and later occupied by the Mixtecs. In this archaeological zone, the mosaic frets stand out, as well as the presence of thousands of carved pieces. “Mitla comes from Mictlan, a word of Nahuatl origin that means 'place of the dead’, and in Zapotec it is known as Liobaa, “house of tombs”. At the fall of Monte Albán, around AD 750, Mitla was one of the cities in which the political and religious power of the Zapotecs of the Central Valleys was concentrated until the arrival of the Spanish. “ —Arqueologiamexicana

At last, we headed home, this time without delay.

 We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ― Joseph Campbell

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Little Devil


Little devil on the roof said, “Black snake, black snake!” 
Fog obscured the land at sunrise. On the roof top veranda I could not see hills, fields or mountains—only a couple lights gleaming nearby. I liked the mysterious atmosphere and had my camera to take a few pictures.
“What about the black snake, little devil?” 
“The neighbor is afraid of the black snake. His children see it in your grass.”

Because of the rain that comes each day, my property is wild in green verdure, and thick with vegetation—transformed suddenly from the end of the dry season when it looked like a brown moonscape.

Yesterday, Amy came to me and said, “The neighbor wants to take a machete to cut the plants on our side of the fence.” 

We have several neighbors, and this one is volatile, unkempt, and unpredictable. He is about 33 years old, lives in little more than a shack and has five children. His property is strewn with garbage, and ours would be too if not for the fence. 
I went up the hill through the tall grass to see him. Amy followed close behind. Standing by his home, he saw me and from the other side of the fence began speaking excitedly. I don’t understand Spanish, but know the word “niños” or children. He used the word culebra several times. It means snake. Amy heard him and said, “He says a big black snake is in the grass and has been scaring his children. He wants to cut the plants down.” Furthermore, he said that since the man across the road plowed his field to plant corn, the rats and mice have come to live in the grasses at our property; thus the snake that feeds on them. I looked at his squalid property, with hardly a nice plant showing. A little boy peered out from between his legs, eyes bulging and mouth open.

We had heard of the big snake that lives on our property. The former owner, a German agronomist, liked it. Our cleaning lady says it has been here since before the house. We hear that there are more than one, and once the German woman had to call a man to the house to kill a snake that she discovered under her refrigerator.

I am a “plant person”. The vegetable kingdom talks with me and I have a green thumb. I can hear plants talk. So I don’t like killing or maiming them and apologize. Now, Amy said, “Let him do it, for the children.” So I pointed out the trees and shrubs I wanted to save. He came over and began whacking away with his machete. I helped for a while with a weed cutter, then stepped away. When I got back, he had cut a small tree and some of the tall ornamental grasses. 

Later, at the house Amy saw me upset and said, “Let it go.”

Meanwhile, the fog had lifted and little devil on the roof sat complacent in the morning sun.