Monday, October 27, 2014
I have been through this drill enough to know what I want to do so I am eager to get started. My table does not feature much at this workshop because who can carry all they need to Mexico, after all?
Before class I can saw the front of my box apart. I know this is just the first step in the process but sometimes by just getting the first thing done you can get quite the jump on a process.
I also live by the philosophy of getting the wall hanging devices on the assemblage early.
Michael begins the class promptly at 10:00 a.m. and we are off and running. Colleen Darling, our fearless leader, gives us the lay of the land and Michael gives us an overview of the project we are working on.
The class is called A Plumed Serpent and Moon Goddesses in the Land of the Dead so our goal is either to make a god up or take an actual legend from the area and do an interpretation. Back home, after doing some research, I had decided that my god was going to be Mictlantecuhtli, Lord of Death. According to Wikipedia, "Mictlantecuhtli, in Aztec mythology, was a god of the dead and the king of Mictlan (Chicunauhmictlan), the lowest and northernmost section of the underworld. He was one of the principal gods of the Aztecs and was the most prominent of several gods and goddesses of death and the underworld. The worship of Mictlantecuhtli sometimes involved ritual cannibalism, with human flesh being consumed in and around the temple.
In the class, as you walk around, sometimes you see the strangest things on other people's tables.
Lunches are included in the ticket prices and today we got to El Fogoncito, the same place we ate at on Saturday night. This is a great tapas place and Colleen just orders a million tacos so we can feast as a family.
Michael is well aware that the distractions of Oaxaca are too much for a group of bright shiny objects like us. After today's lunch, some of us went to the religious store and the Benito Juarez market for--bright shiny objects.
The religious store is an interesting place to visit and one ripe for you to be The Ugly American. The store itself is a jumbled mess of inventory displayed throughout multiple rooms with tons of hidden steps just waiting to trip you. Hand lettered signs adorn most of the objects so it is easy to find the prices but you are only looking at a sample of the item. You must find a clerk to order and then negotiate how many you want. Next, the clerk disappears for awhile and returns to tell you they either have the item or they do not. Once you have all the items you want, they then write up a three part slip, sometimes with carbon paper or sometimes they write our each individual sheet. When you have visited the many rooms and have your single or sometimes multiple order sheets, you can then proceed to the cashier. The cashier totals your amount and you pay. Then, the cashier keeps one of the slips and hands the other two to a cashier clerk. The cashier clerk sometimes already has your items if the clerk who wrote out the original order brought them--but if not, this clerk will disappear into the bowels of the shop to hunt down your items. Upon return, there is a careful comparison of the items the clerk has with the slips of inventory. Finally, the clerk wraps the items and hands them to you--and you are done.
During this process, it is important that aggressive, arrogant Americans don"t yell--"what the fuck are you people doing?" This is a good time to remember that the reason you travel to a foreign country is to experience their culture--not to impose your ways upon them.
Today I bought some eyes even though I do not need any because they are the best eyes for assemblage. What I really wanted to buy was very fancy resplendors, or the flame like structure that goes behind a Guadalupe saint. At first, the only ones I could find were flat tin and I ordered six. Then someone pointed out to me they had one fancy kind so I order a bunch of those. After going through the lengthy check out process, I was out of the store.
The Benito Juarez market is a claustrophobic person's nightmare. It is an indoor market where the booths are very close together and stacked very high with a multiplicity of items ranging from food to clothing to tourist items. At this time today, the market was closing so I did not stay very long or find the thing I was looking for--tin in human form.
We made it back to put some time in the workshop. After the workshop we head back through the zocalo to shop at Fantasy. Fantasy is like a holiday craft store and it is stocked with a gillion things. What I am looking for is skulls on a string but I do not see them. Then it was across the street to the Friday Kahlo art store again. This time I am out of a Golden paints color called Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold which I use a lot. The counter girl and I negotiate the purchase of a craft paint
Then our separate groups wander back to the Zocalo for dinner at Terra Nova. We are joined by pretty much everyone in the workshop and the dragged along significant others. During the meal, I hired a mariachi band to perform at our table. Not everyone is into this at first but I love it when the four or five piece bands blast away in our ears while we try to eat. I love it.
That night we worked until midnight in the workshop.
Painting is now possible and the color palette to my great surprise ends up being the good old red, white and blue.
View all the photos from this trip at