Thursday, July 31, 2008

The symbol of the Cross.

In Mexico religion is an integral part of the culture. As is to create altars anywhere from the church, the home to a sight of an accident. As you drive through the roads in Mexico
you find many small altars with virgins, votive candles, flowers and the symbol of the cross.

Anytime you walk in front of a church or you feel the need for protection you make the sign of the cross. When a construction is started the first thing the workers put in place is a wooden cross to protect them from any accidents.

To me the cross represents the continuity of life from the time we are born to the time we cease to exist. I have started to include the symbol of the cross in my art pieces.

The “ladrillo” (brick).

The most basic of building materials in this area is the “ladrillo”. Todos Santos was built with ladrillos. You can still see in the downtown area the Spanish influence, where the old hacienda brick style houses with arches over giant wooden doors and raw iron windows were the norm. Now a days brick has been replaced by concrete blocks which are a bit cheaper and can be mass produced. However there is still a brick artisan in San Pedro that has a man made kiln with which he makes the most beautiful bricks ever.

Also in the hills of the Sierra Laguna there are several ceramic artisans who gather their own clay from the mountains and build beautiful minimal style pots.

We found this particular brick with the word “Mexico” embedded into it on the side of the road. We have never seen one with words before.

The desert.

It has taken me the better part of a year to come to terms with the desert. At first I found it threatening. The possibility of finding a big rattler or getting pricked or scratched by any of a thousand types of cacti. The eerie, lonely, intensely dry feeling of its environment got the best of me. Then through slow exploration, short walks, up close observation of the many living species of plants. The incredible reality of a cacti plant that apparently seems to be dead, having at the end of its branches a soft beautiful flower or even a delectable fruit. Amazement at the cute lizards of many colors, hares and birds. The snakes I haven’t become to friendly with yet.

But I have to admit that it’s warmed my spirit. Lately I wrote in one of my pieces “El alma del desierto esta ahí muy adentro de ese armazón de espinas. Aquel que la encuentra goza de su dulzura” (The soul of the desert is there deep inside its thick cover full of spines. He who discovers it, will enjoy its sweetness).

The color Red.

It is amazing how an environment can get into you and make you crave certain colors.
It has happened to me with the color “red”. I crave it all the time. From adding it to my work, to using it on my lips, or making me buy a red rebozo (shawl). The sun is intense and the sunsets unbelievably beautiful and “red”. The red multiplies after the sun has set and it bathes the clouds with red brush strokes.

There are also several desert plants that have the most delicate bright red flowers.
When in bloom you see the desert in its brown, ocher coloring and little paint strokes of red everywhere.

Red “pitayas” are cacti fruits that are covered with little spines. But you can buy them on the side of the road already cleaned. When you put them in your mouth it is definitively a sweet red explosion.

The iconic “heart” (el Corazón).

For many years I have collected hearts. The shape, the color, and its meaning of love I was always partial to. Now I realize that in Mexico is much more than that. It is probably the most frequently used icon. It is very prevalent in all of our folk art, and its origin is two-fold.

The heart is used in most of our religious figures. There are hundreds of images of the Virgin and many Saints with painted hearts, emanating rays of love and compassion.
Also in many Churches, specially in the old times there were walls full of “Milagros”.
These are mostly tin cut images of hearts brought in by the people and nailed to one of the inside walls of a Church to thank God and/or a particular Saint for a miracle performed. Today you can also find other types of Milagros such as eyes, legs, small virgin images, hands and others.

These weekly hearts were made out of leftover scraps of wood used for a veranda in the house. The reason why they are seven, each one relating to the day of the week is to remind us that we are meant to love each and every day of our lives.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


There are many kinds of birds that live in our environment. From pelicans, to hummingbirds, sea gulls, hawks, road runners, finches, woodpeckers and others. We could hear them and see some of them. But I decided to device a bird feeder of sorts by placing a clay dish in our garden. We filled it with sun flower seeds and some "alpiste". Then waited to see who might come visit.

A couple of days after, a white dove (maybe pigeon like) came to visit. She is quite pretty and we have named her "Blanquita". She has taken to liking our zen little garden and of course the clay dish that gives her sustenance. Once in a while she shares it with two young quails.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Inspiration at Punta Lobos.

Between 1:30-3:00PM all the fisherman from our area come back with their goods.
It's quite a scene at Punta Lobos as the "pangas" (small motor boats), make it through the rough surf landing on the sand and immediately being dragged by a pick up truck onto a flat area of the beach. There, tables are set next to the boats for the gutting & filleting of the fish. It's pelican heaven.

I am of course a Piscis and have a particular weekness for fish and being in the water.

So my next piece was dedicated to this beautiful "dorado" yellow tail. The ying and yang shapes on the piece represent the double currents in which I find myself often struggling with.

Art is my obsession.

After being able to set up my fifth make shift studio here in Todos Santos. One with a big "sombra"(shade sail material covering our garage), I was able to stretch out without having to worry that one of the corners of my piece was slowly melting away. I have been working non stop. It's been fun incorporating the trash that I found along the roads on my morning walks, giving them a new life within a new environment.

No street names.

In Todos Santos there is no Post Office. Reason being that there are no street names.
Well, there are a few in the center of town. But the surrounding neighborhoods who were all at some point in time agricultural fields, mostly sugar cane but also chile fields.
Slowly these ranchs and farms have been sold off in parcels and no major city development has happened. So there are hundreds of country roads, with home made signs like this one. It's rather quaint... until you need to send a letter to someone.

Plastic everywhere...

It has been a struggle for me to see garbage on the streets, but it has been worst to see the incredible ground covering of plastic. Plastic bottles, containers of all sizes and the queen of them all the plastic bag.

The grocery stores (...well any store) give them out by the hundreds. Later the purchased item is retrieved from the bag and the bag perhaps makes it to a garbage receptacle but most likely catches a bit of wind and flies away. You can see them hooked to numerous tree limbs all along the highways. They are usually black and from a distance they appear to be animal shapes, floating around as if they were dancing.

But the reality is that plastic is not biodegradable and it litters our world.

Efforts are being made by caring environmentalists to bring awareness to the consumer to switch to reusable cotton bags or the old fashioned "canasta o java para el mercado". Bring your own bag!

This piece of art has a smashed coke bottle in the center. It is very common here in Todos Santos for people to drink loads of soda. In this case I framed it with a small poem about "the thirst for life".