Showing posts with label artist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label artist. Show all posts

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Vibrant Culture of Oaxaca

Living in our rural village of San Pedro Ixtlahuaca, my wife Amy and I are privileged to experience the vibrant culture of nearby Oaxaca in its most authentic form. Every July, we eagerly anticipate the Guelaguetza festivities, an annual festival celebrated in Oaxaca, Mexico, that showcases the rich cultural diversity of the region. Here are the key aspects of the Guelaguetza festivities:

1. Timing and Location: The festival takes place on the last two Mondays of July in Oaxaca City and surrounding areas. The main events are held at the Guelaguetza Auditorium on Cerro del Fortín, a hill overlooking the city.

2. Cultural Significance: "Guelaguetza" means "offering" or "reciprocal exchange of gifts" in Zapotec, reflecting the festival's emphasis on community sharing and mutual interdependence.

3. Historical Roots: The festival has origins dating back over 3,000 years, initially as a celebration of the Oaxacan corn goddess. It later incorporated Catholic elements after Spanish colonization.

4. Regional Representation: Delegations from Oaxaca's eight culturally diverse regions participate, showcasing their unique traditions.

5. Performances: The festival features traditional dances, music, and costumes specific to each region. Performers often distribute gifts to the audience, such as fruit, baskets, candy, or local goods.

6. Parades: Colorful parades called "calendas" are an integral part of the festivities, featuring dancers, singers, and musicians.

7. Food and Drink: The festival celebrates Oaxacan cuisine, including specialties like mole and mezcal.

8. Artisanal Crafts: A market (mercado) showcases handmade items from Oaxaca, including traditional apparel and crafts.

9. Additional Events: The celebration includes side events such as the performance of "Princess Donaji," an epic pre-Hispanic theatrical presentation.

10. Tourist Attraction: While the Guelaguetza has become a significant tourist draw, it remains deeply important for preserving and celebrating the indigenous cultures of Oaxaca.

Friday we went to watch some street festivities. Marching brass and percussion bands filled the air with lively rhythms, creating an infectious energy that reverberates through the streets. Costumed dancers marched and danced, carrying icons. The crowds are mostly Mexican natives with a good dose of tourists mixed in. 

We are both stimulated by cultural extravaganzas. I am a photographer as well as painter so try and angle for the best photos. Amy is an artist too, and quite good recording moments on her iPhone. 

The dancers are a sight to behold. Adorned in native costumes, they step and twirl with grace and precision, their movements telling stories passed down through generations. Each region of Oaxaca showcases its unique heritage through these performances, from the vibrant dresses of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to the feathered headdresses of the Mixtec dancers. The vivid colors and intricate designs of their costumes are mesmerizing, a testament to the rich cultural tapestry of our region. Often women dance and twirl with baskets of flowers or fruit on their head. 

As the sun sets, festivities take on a magical glow. Street vendors offer an array of delicious Oaxacan treats, from tlayudas to chapulines, and we indulge in these local delicacies while soaking in the festive atmosphere. A sense of community is overwhelming, as locals and visitors alike come together to celebrate and honor Oaxaca's heritage.

Driving back to San Pedro Ixtlahuaca, we felt a deep sense of satisfaction, joy and pride. Guelaguetza is more than just a festival; it is a celebration of life, culture, and unity. It reminds us of the beauty of our traditions and the importance of coming together as a community.

Every year, this journey reaffirms our love for Oaxaca and its vibrant culture. We return home with hearts full of memories, eagerly awaiting the next Guelaguetza and the joy it will undoubtedly bring.

I will be sharing more, as the main, big parades have not begun yet. 

Sunday, July 08, 2018


I have loved drawing nudes for as long as I have been an artist. It is an age-old practice in western art. Art history books are full of them. Some of the most famous museum pieces in the world are “au naturel”. The most impressive I have seen in person is Michelangelo’s colossal sculpture in Florence, Italy, called David

 The drawing group I attend on Tuesday nights is devoted to figures. A model of either sex takes poses for three hours. This particular group likes mostly short “gesture” poses lasting from 1-10 minutes.

When I am drawing a gesture pose, my skills from years of study are used fluidly and instinctively. I don’t have time to worry about mistakes—or correcting anything. It  is all impulse.

The longest pose is about forty minutes. Then I can gauge proportions, study foreshortening, make corrections and take time shading.

What greater art is there than the human form?

Sunday, February 04, 2018

The Horizon I have Been Dreaming

During my youth I daydreamed and used imagination to make simple pencil drawings. I often drew a road beginning under my feet extending toward the horizon, getting smaller until at last disappearing there.

Even now, as an artist many decades later, I make paintings with disappearing roads, paths or rivers in a landscape.

I have a passion for street photography. It takes me on thoroughfares across the globe. I begin with a known place underfoot and start traveling—soon to disappear into the horizon of the unknown. I feel free.

Erice, Sicily, Italy

When I am making street photos, surprise is my ally. I look for the odd, or combinations of elements that combined make for a visual poem.

Venice, Italy

As I grow older, my road steadily nears an unseen and mysterious end.

Central India

I look forward to meeting that horizon I have been dreaming of all my life.

More art of: Steven Boone

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Pure Creativity

"Homage to O"Keefe," mixed-media, 24x36 inches
For most businesses it is essential to build a “brand.” Artists are self-employed so have to think of being profitable. Thus, more often than not, they develop their own type of brand.
"Aspen Trail," o/l, 24x20 inches, SOLD

"Traveler," Mixed-media, 24x18 inches

I have always experimented and been uncomfortable being branded. Pure creativity is primal impulse and can be vitiated by commercial pressures to conform. Fortunately, for most of my life as an artist, I have had my own gallery, and could show a broad range of work. Over three decades, I have seen popular taste shift. In the last couple weeks, the majority of the work I have sold is “experimental.” That is gratifying and leads me to conclude I can be authentic and received.
"Afternoon Leisure," oil/canvas, 12x12 inches
"Afro Mask," oil/linen, 20x20 inches

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Unseen Hand

An unseen hand is holding my fragile life. I can feel it. A little more than a year ago my beloved father passed away, and then my wife decided to leave too. Before she left, something was prompting me to pray each day, “Oh God, satisfy my needs, redeem my debts, protect me from deceit, and help me to see the truth.” Pretty soon, all my debts had cleared away, and it became apparent that my wife was not devoted to marriage. OK, that hurt and still does, but almost immediately after our separation, abundance began increasing for me in many ways. Despite my heartbreak that re-opened the wound I have of my daughter's death in 1999 at the age of nineteen, and perhaps my father's death too, I could see good happening and it was as if I was attracting it. As if a tender gardener were lovingly revivifying a crushed flower whose stem was broken. I have been aware and thankful of this and been praying at least an hour a day . . . as well as reflecting and writing.

"The Last Drama", oil on linen, 48 x 60 inches

An example of grace relates to something I wrote about last week (See: Rain On The Parade). I am an artist and have no certain income. It fluctuates depending on if my artwork sells. At this time, I do not have a gallery representing me, but sales have been occurring anyway. I had been accepted to participate in an outdoor art festival in Denver, Colorado, and decided to go all out and have two booths rather than one. There were numerous exhibition fees involved, and travel costs including a downtown hotel, etc. but I had a feeling I might do well.

From the start the weather was bad. I mean by the middle of the second day I knew I was finished. My booth was flooded and people were barely coming to the event. The first evening had been clear for a brief period and there had been promise because I had made good contacts but it was all downhill afterward and I considered the whole affair a loss by Saturday evening. I left early Sunday, despite the sky being clear, because the forecast was for more storms and I did not want to be trapped trying to take down my art in the rain. None of the artists were happy about the show, and a few were leaving early like me. I drove one day and arrived back home in Santa Fe, calculating my loss.

But grace had something in store for me, because from a contact the first night, my biggest painting sold through email conversations! I am shipping it back to Denver to a happy couple who will hang it over their fireplace. Grace and the unseen hand.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

See Things Differently

Golden Gate Bridge, viewed from the Sausalito side
There is something about travel—new places bring new vision. That is, when we leave what we are accustomed to and set forth into the unknown, we will be surprised and see things differently. For some, this is dreadful . . . and for others, like me, it is necessary. My mother has not been away from her home for thirty years. She reads five books a week, watches the birds outside of her dining room window, smells the roses that are freshly cut and brought indoors from her garden, and sleeps whenever she feels like it. All comfortable to her so that she stays relaxed.

When I went to San Francisco last Tuesday, I took only sandals and a few light clothes to pack in my suitcase with art supplies. When the plane landed, the temperature was cool and moist, and because my favorite hotel is near the Pacific by the Golden Gate Bridge, it was even cooler, and foggy. OK, I was a bit cold, and wondered why I did not pack shoes. Even so, I love the place so much that during the next several days, wearing sandals with socks, I set about going forth to places that stimulate me and also hold memory from my last days with Naomi before she died. 

Painting of Muir Beach, oil on board, 12x9 inches
Wednesday, after coffee at my favorite java joint along Ocean beach, down the hill from my hotel, I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge toward Sausalito. It was cold and foggy but I knew that likely, the sun would be shining warmly on the other side. Sure enough, across the bridge, the clouds dissipated, and I was cruising through the hills in picturesque brilliance, arriving at Muir Beach. Flowers bloomed along the rugged coast and I set up my easel to paint in the early afternoon. I had the place to my self and worked undisturbed for a couple hours, listening to the breaking waves, smelling the sage and scented earth, feeling my primitive earth connection, and letting the spectacular scenery fill my eyes. While painting, the joy of giving freedom to impulse through art holds me to one place, and rather than be bored, I am struggling to express and give birth to art.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Essential Substance Of Life

Self-portrait, taken in Montevideo, Uruguay
Matrix is a word that I arrive at often when thinking of my creative process. During my one-year sojourn around the world, I intended to disappear into the matrix, and from there, let my creative energies flow. What does it mean? For me, matrix describes the essential substance of life from which everything is born. It is always in flux, receiving the dying forms and casting forth the newborn upon the shores of existence.

The perfect place from which to create is one of boundlessness. A musician is in the flow and notes seem to come from out of nowhere. A painter is fluidly creating his painting and his marks sometimes are surprising . . . he has gone outside his boundaries and is in the realm of discovery.

Creation is timeless, and when an artist is creating he often is not aware of the passage of the moments. He begins, and when he looks up again, is finished, and then wonders, where did the time go?

Self-portrait, Paris, France

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Tightrope Walker

Being an artist is like being a tightrope walker, trying to keep balanced between creativity and staying in public favor. To lose either is to fall, but losing creativity is death, whereas public favor is capricious, not essential for life. Most artists depend upon public sanction and approval in order to provide for themselves and family. Everyone knows the tragic story of Vincent van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890). He passionately gave his talents to the world, but the public did not receive his gifts. Thus he was impoverished and depended upon the charity of his brother to survive. At the tender age of 37, he killed himself, and then some years later when public taste shifted, his work gained favor. Now, van Gogh is an icon and his work is among the most sought after in the world. And what if he had acknowledged and followed advice? We all would be poorer if he had conformed to the taste required by society and painted academic paintings with subdued tones and little flair or personality. Then, his unique and wondrous gift of authenticity would have been diminished and blighted and his greatest work would not have been achieved.

In contrast, Pablo Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973) set the world on fire and after a brief initial struggle getting established, had the public eating out of his hand. Much of his work could not be understood, but perhaps because society was hungry for change and he was the man of the hour and capable of fantastic feats of creativity, his bold advances were met enthusiastically and he became very rich. His art is also among the most sought after in the world.

Common advice for an artist is to create a niche and be identified much as commercial brands are recognized. Then, grow the brand.  Most artists do this.  Norman Rockwell, Andrew Wyeth, or even Jackson Pollock, are painters who settled upon a technique and then harvested results. This practice extends to other art forms, such as poetry and writing, where some are haiku writers or fiction novelists, but not both. Very few are like Leonardo daVinci, a painter, inventor, sculptor, poet and scientist.

I admit that the public sometimes factors into my thoughts when I am in my studio. I have had success as a landscape painter, but other work has met with less enthusiasm. Some of my paintings, like the Hangup series, (faces hanging from clothespins on a line), have met with delight and wonder, but also revulsion and hatred. When I made the first, I was responding to a quirky inner vision, not public taste. I had decided to follow through with an odd momentary vision, and eventually produced thirty-five paintings. At one point I stopped painting, since I felt I was coming unglued, but now count the Hangup paintings as among my most important work. To prove the point, one of them, Van Gogh, All Hung Up is part of the permanent collection of the Foundation Vincent Van Gogh, in Arles, France, among paintings by luminaries of contemporary art.

Writing, photography, painting, drawing, making books, graphic design, public speaking, traveling, meditation, philosophy . . . the main thing is to follow the thread of the heart.

Visit the Steven Boone website.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

We Manifest Our World

It came as a shock to hear that Michael Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) died. Certainly, he was a giant among entertainers, and had millions of fans. Nonetheless, it is incredible the amount of attention that has been garnered by his death. It is as big a news event as any, and I dare say if a nuclear bomb went off somewhere in the world, it would not provoke any more news coverage.
Here is another story. Years ago, I was outdoors with my easel and paints, making a picture along a quiet road in Santa Fe when a man my age approached and struck up a conversation. He was an artist, and before he departed we arranged to see each other again and go painting together. Over time, we became good friends. Eventually he moved from Santa Fe with his young family and lived in Michigan before later moving to San Luis Obispo, California. Occasionally we met each other and always shared an easy ambience of artistic brotherhood.
Ken perhaps was the more bohemian, not caring much about money or fortune except for his family, enjoying good times when they came and indulging in marijuana and drink if it was available. The family seemed to live on the margins, but he remained a conscientious father and faithful husband. His daughters grew, while I lost my oldest, Naomi to cancer and eventually my second wife and I divorced when our daughter turned twenty.
Ken often confided his own discontent in marriage and ruminated about the life he wanted to live as a free spirit. Before he had married, he had led the life of a vagabond artist, bicycling around France, living in Paris and becoming fluent in French. In marriage, he barely managed to support the family from his meager earnings as a painter. In San Luis Obispo, his wife became the primary breadwinner as a school teacher.
About 1 week ago, Ken called and informed me that he and his wife was separating. I felt bad, but understood. He asked me for my new address and told me he wanted to send me a letter. A few days ago, I received a packet from Ken. I opened it and there were some newspaper clippings and his letter. I always enjoy Ken’s letters because he writes poignantly about his life and immediate experiences, and also adds a bit of philosophy.
He wrote about the difficulties of his separation, the family, his plan to go to France for a break, and then he wrote a sentence that did not make sense: “Naturally winning a million dollars is a good thing, but it has created a lot of headaches too.” I read on and he told me he hoped to relax and paint more in France, and that he had been playing golf. He closed by saying he hoped I was well and that maybe we could get together “one of these days.” I put the letter down and reached into the large envelope, pulling out the paper that was folded neatly in half. Imagine my shock when I saw that it was the front page of the San Luis Obispo newspaper with a picture of him beside the headline: LOCAL ARTIST WINS 1 MILLION DOLLARS. The article was titled, A Painterly Stroke of Luck, COLOR OSOS ARTIST RICH. The newspaper quoted Ken: "I think twice about going out to lunch. It's very rare that I spend money like that. I did not tell my wife because I didn't want her to know I had spent money on something so frivolous."
I am still incredulous. Of course I called Ken, and he explained that he had been reading a book called Ask And It Is Given, about how we manifest our world by the way we think, and around the same time, he saw an advertisement in the Los Angeles Times for a raffle to benefit a charitable arts organization. The price of a ticket was steep—one hundred and fifty dollars, but the prize was a house in Santa Barbara or 1 million dollars. Ken never gambled or entered lotteries, but for this time, he dug under his mattress and without telling his wife bought a ticket, thinking that he would win. And then a month later, he was announced the winner. “I was not surprised”, Ken told me.