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SPANISH HEARTS March 15 2019, 0 Comments

I've just returned from Mexico to Canada. In Mexico City I moved through history every day, on the streets and in the museums and the galleries. There are extraordinary works of art in Mexico, ancient and modern. Strangers smiled and warmly greeted me. Food invited me. There were earthquakes somewhere, but they were far away.

In Mexico, colour expresses itself everywhere. And it made me feel happy.

Colour is in the streets, in mercados, the food and in love potions, the clothing (ask Frida), fine art, and folk art,  ceramics in dance, and in Day of the Dead celebrations. The  Museo de Arte Polular is an especially joyous colour riot.

I brought some of Mexico's colour back with me. I've arranged many colourful hand-painted mirrored tin hearts on my wall. I see them first thing in the morning, then I look out my window, and look back to the colourful wall.

 

 I leave you with this song about the Spanish Heart by Chick Corea.

Hasta luego amigos.

Val

 


TIN HEARTS FROM A WARM CLIMATE February 21 2019, 0 Comments

I’m going down to Mexico City soon, with side trips to Zacatecas and Puebla. I’m looking forward to seeing again the fabulous art and architecture, ancient and modern, the food of course, and the music.

One of Mexico’s most appealing expressions of its culture is its folk art.

         

Although I love all Mexican folk art, my favourite is the hojalata (in English tin), the colourful charming tin art. Mexico celebrates Day of the Dead  and  Christmas with tin folk art.

In Mexico, the hojalata goes back to the 16th century to Spanish colonial times. Today, in Mexico, many people have tin folk art displayed in their homes, while other places such as cathedrals have symbolic religious tin art displayed.

Sheets of tin are cut, shaped and embossed with a pattern, then bright lacquer and enamel paint is applied. All tin folk art is handmade by Mexican artisans and craftsmen and craftswomen, who create with a sense of humour and imagination.

 

The mirrored tin heart is my favourite. Here are some hearts I brought back when I last visited Mexico.

I'll be wandering through mercados looking for more tin hearts. They'll soon be available on my website for your enjoyment and purchase. They are joyful things.

 

Hasta luego,

Val

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


LA CATRINA FINDS YOU August 15 2018, 0 Comments

La Catrina is an icon of the Day of the Dead in Mexico. Even though she is a skeleton, La Catrina is a tradition full of life wearing her elaborate somberero and elegant dress.

     

Death is not feared in Mexico: offerings, songs, respect and humor are common Mexican expressions towards death, and Catrina, the Grande Dame of Death, is admired and respected. Her beginnings as Mictēcacihuātl go back to the Aztec era. During the twentieth century, in the creative hands of artist Jose Guadalupe Posada, Catrina's image was transformed. She gained political importance and became a cultural icon.

 

In Diego Rivera's satirical political mural Sueño de una Tarde Dominical en la Alameda Central, Catrina dominates the centre.

 

                                                    

Catrina's image is seen all over Mexico:  on the streets, in the parks, and in the tiendas/shops.  El Museo de Arte Popular has a fantastical collection of Catrinas. A search on the web shows the many forms Catrina takes: tatoos, makeup, chocolates, candy. Clothing such as dresses, hats, headbands, shoes, baby and children's clothes, dog clothes, display her image. She appears on the top of cakes, as a bride, and as a pregnant woman.

In Mexico you don't have to look for Catrina. She finds you. She is an extraordinary example of how the Mexican people embrace the reality of death and bring it into their every day life. La Catrina is educating me.

For now, and only now,

Hasta leugo amigos

Val

 

 


VANITY VANITAS July 25 2018, 0 Comments

SKULLS IN ART

          
        Symbolism of Chance (Fortuna's Wheel)                      16th-17th French ivory pendant
Skull symbolism is the the attachment of symbolic meaning to the human skull. The most common symbolic use of the skull is as a representation of death and mortality. This iconic image populates the history of art.

      

        

ivory Renaissance memento mori                                    ancient Tibetan citipati skull mask

In many countries memento mori is an object which serves as a warning or reminder of death. Images of death are portrayed in all cultures through the ages, from classic antiquity, medieval Europe, the Victorian era, Buddhism, Japanese Zen, Tibet, and in Native American culture.

   

      18th century was tableau Queen Elizabeth                                        early 20th century postcard

Anika Burgess in her article introduces us to some masterpieces of memento moriMenachem Wecker's article suggests that memento mori is one of art history's spookiest and misunderstood genre.

In the fashion industry today, skull imagery is glorified, and this has been the case since ancient times when people wore bone necklaces to show respect and as signs of power. Today we find skull imagery on jewellery, clothing, ceramics, home furnishings, on stationery, baby clothes, even doggie clothes. The skull also makes its appearance on outlaw biker gear, on vehicles, and in tattoos.

     

Sugar skulls appear all over Mexico for Day of the Dead celebrations. Mexican folk art abounds with fantastical images of the skull. 

Death was once defined as the cessation of heartbeat. But now without a functioning heart or lungs, life can sometimes be sustained with a combination of life support devices, organ transplants and pacemakers. My emergency trips to the hospital for heart complications have saved my life. Early detection and state-of-the-art treatment for cancer have saved many lives. My life was one of them.

I know a truth: No matter one's station in life, the Dance Macabre unites all.

My near death experiences have inspired me to explore the symbolic depictions of death in art. My skull art collection had begun.

Hasta luego amigos.

Val


Amo México - Walking in Colour July 11 2018, 0 Comments

I’m inspired to create by what I see around me, and what's inside me. Exciting colours and complex patterns motivate me to explore. Artists, past and contemporary, influence my creations. I don't feel alone when I’m in unknown territory.

I see a lot while I'm walking though Mexican cities and villages. A spiraling Mexican cactus at the side of the road and colourful paper cutouts overhead in the mercado stay in my memory sketch book.

An ancient gold Aztec lip plug in the shape of a serpent's head offers the opportunity to explore mystery and the dark side. I believe that ancient creations have inspired many modern jewellery creations.

 

Rambling through the bohemian quarter in Condesa in Mexico City with all the  colourful casas simply makes me happy and playful. And I like to recreate those feelings in my own creations.

 
You'll find some of my creations on Society6. There's a colourful skull to tell you the time and a pillow to help you dream. And there's more....

While you here, you can visit my website to see some new card designs.

Hasta luego amigos,

Val


Amo México - Death Inspires Art July 05 2018, 0 Comments

Calaveras - Skulls in Art in Mexico

                     

Mexican art and religion celebrates death and uses images of skulls and skeletons as their motifs. That's because death in Mexico is treated differently than in other parts of the world. Death is a daily part of life. It is not mourned or shunned. In November, on the Day of the Dead - Día de Muertos, deceased loved ones are celebrated. Altars (ofrendas) are built and favourite foods and confectionaries in the shapes of skulls populate those altars.

Mexicanidad

Artistic representation of the skull began in ancient times, but was suppressed during the Spanish-Aztec War (1519-21), then emerged as a symbol of Mexicanidad after Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821. 

Famous Mexican illustrator José Guadalupe Posada (1851–1913) was known for his satirical and politically acute Calaveras. His skeleton images became iconic when they took on a whole different meaning socially and politically, and came to represent the feelings of the Mexican people leading up to the Mexican Revolution.

Famous internationally known artists Frida Kalho, Diego Rivera and Rufino Tamayo added their creativity in support of Mexicanidad.

                     

From sculptures and monuments in ancient times in Mexico to present day artists like  Damien Hirst,  people have been inspired to look death in the face, and create.

                                   

                    Aztec Calendar Stone                     Damien Hirst

 

In my next post I'll reveal new skull motif designs which are inspired by the skulls in Mexican folk art.

Hasta luego amigos, Val

 


Amo México May 28 2018, 0 Comments

Just back from Mexico. I love Mexico: Mexican art, Mexican colours, Mexican customs and celebrations, Mexican food. I've visited the country many times and each time I get to see something new, and see some of the same things in a different way. Mexico always surprises and delights me.

 

    

During my visit to Mexico City in May this year, two unique events were taking place at the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts)the exhibition: HYBRIDS the Body as Imaginary and a performance by the American composer Phillip Glass.

The Palacio de Bellas Artes is a prominent cultural center in Mexico City. It has hosted some of the most notable events in music, dance, theatre, opera and literature and has held important exhibitions of painting, sculpture and photography. The palace is a mixture of two architectural styles: an Art Nouveau exterior, and an Art Deco interior. And I was pleased to find out that there many Art Deco buildings and Art Nouveau buildings in Mexico City.

HYBRIDS The Body as Imaginary

This exhibition included incredible images across time from ancient Egypt to contemporary artistic works. Some of the artists included were Victor Brauner, Prune Nourry, Pieter Brueghel, and Mathew Barney.

The hybrid beings created by the diverse cultures that have inhabited the planet throughout history and their role within the western imaginary of the 19th and 20th centuries are some of the topics that the temporary exhibition Hybrids addresses: the body as imaginary.


 

Victor Brauner (1903-1966)Estereofigura (Steréofigure), 1959 
Prune Nourry (b. 1985) Squatting Holy Daughter, 2010.
Pieter Brueghel, el Joven (1564-1637) La tentación de San Antonio, ca.1625

 

On May 12th I saw Philip Glass perform with Mexican musicians Daniel Medina de la Rosa Raweri (Violin Wixarika), and  Erasmo Medina Medina ,  Kanari (Guitarra Wixárika), the work Hikuri (The Sacred Cactus).

Phillip Glass loves to experiment with many types of musicians. My Mexican friend Luis was very proud to be experiencing this moment. This inspiring performance was followed by the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional.

 And this was just the beginning of my ongoing explorations in Mexico City....

Hasta luego,

Val