Sunday, August 22, 2021

Stop and Take Notice

Certainly, some people don’t like it. It is commonly regarded as vandalism. But that is not true of all the “street” art found in Oaxaca. As an artist, I enjoy graffiti that is well done. Downtown walls in Oaxaca although often brightly painted are humble and plain, except for simple embellishments. All the graffiti gives flavor to the milieu. Oaxaca is one of the world’s printmaking and graphics centers—so it is bound to go out in the streets—especially with revolutionary fervor. Artists in Mexico are traditionally known to be in the vanguard of revolution.
I always carry my Leica camera with me when walking downtown looking for the unusual. It might be a beggar, a child, something thrown in the gutter or a building facade, etc.
Amy, being an artist, likes the wall art as well. Often she will stop in front of a woodblock print, pasted up on a wall and say, Wow! Other times a hand painted cartoon might grab us, such as La Calavera Catrina, lady death made up fancifully.

Yesterday, while we were downtown we walked by a wall with incredible images pasted upon it. An entrance to a restaurant is there, so permission must have been granted. The images were of black slaves in bondage. The pictures were an attempt to remind people that slavery existed in Mexico’s past. The Spaniards brought slaves to work on sugar plantations. I know about slavery in the USA but it is a surprise to learn of it in Mexico too.

Much of the graffiti is making a statement of some kind. So it is meant to provoke. Perhaps tourists and some locals object to this, but when it is done well, I stop and take notice.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Side By Side

Child of Oaxaca, oil on canvas, 80x100 cm

Since moving to Mexico, Amy and I share a studio and make our art side by side. It is a happy arrangement. We listen to music and occasionally look over the shoulder of the other to see what’s happening. She has her own style and so do I. We are different in mind and background when it comes to art. Nonetheless there is plenty of common ground.

Just today we are finishing paintings. I made a large piece with a native Oaxaca girl as subject. She is someone I saw not long ago. With her sister, she was in the the town center sitting on a sidewalk, selling little drawings and sketches made with colored pencils on paper. Amy and I bought a piece from her older sister. I took photos of both of them and the younger one had a slightly forlorn look. People were walking by without slowing down. The girls were dressed very nicely. My painting is made with oil paints.

Between Snakes and Hummingbirds, acrylic on canvas, 60x90 cm

Amy is finishing her second of a three part series titled Daughters of Tonantzin. The new work is entitled, “Quinto Sol / Entre Culebras y Colibríes .“ ( Between Snakes and Hummingbirds) A tribute to the power of innocence; and the magic and majesty of the universe.

Steven Boone Artwork

Amy Cordova y Boone artwork

Sunday, August 01, 2021

Good Neighbor

There are several people who have made a big difference to Amy and I since we moved to San Pedro Ixtlahuaca, the village outside of Oaxaca, Mexico. We arrived in March of this year. Mayolo Galindo was one of the first people we made a good connection with. He liked us and we liked him immediately—we are all artists. Mayolo knows about as much English as I do Spanish, that is, almost none. But Amy knows enough Spanish to get us by.

Mayolo helped design and then made our wonderful stairway banister in the front hall. He made curving curtain rods to go above our arched windows in the master bedroom. And he attached deer heads at the top. Our home is called “Dos Venados," or Two Deers. The railing has two deer heads attached. On my birthday, he gifted us a wonderful tin framed mirror, complete with pounded embellishments and two deer heads with roses. 

It is very difficult to get the art materials I am accustomed to in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. Mayolo said he could build me frames, so I decided to give him a chance. He said he could make something out of tin. I have never framed with this material. I had some doubts. We talked about the design. He is a master with metal and delivered a wonderful frame. 

It now adorns my portrait of Frida Kahlo.  

“The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers.”        —Martin Luther King, Jr.