Saturday, March 07, 2009

San Miguel Part 1

Come with me now for a dizzying 2 week journey to San Miguel De Allende, Mexico and parts nearby. Of course we love art so there will be that. Food so beautiful that I gave up taking photos of all of it. Cooking class, art making, shopping, people-loving, bolero singing and Birthday having. Lots of walking. Here we go.

On our first night in Leon our waitress makes salsa at our table letting us choose the ingredients from a cart. The meal was one of our finest. We are here after a 3 segment plane ride through Seattle, Ft. Worth and finally Leon.

The best part of any trip is the people. Left to right is my host William (Pepe) Peters, new friend Gabrielle Green (who later on gives us a cooking class) and of course John (Juan). Mes amigos. (BTW, in Mexico my name is "Judita", pronounced hoo-deet-uh.)

The first thing I noticed on arriving at the home of our hosts was the painted plaster in several rooms. This technique involves mixing dry pigment with cal (lime) and painting onto the dry plaster. This wall and another you will see was done by Amber Eagle, a Houston artist who lives in the house part time.

Everywhere I turn is beautiful artistry. See the lizard worked into the lock above? And the dry climate weathers the wood so wonderfully.

I first met Marlene nine years ago through our friends in San Miguel. She was my first artist friend there and I looked forward to seeing her again on this trip. We spent a day together in which we had planned to do assemblage but instead messed about with encaustic.

We didn't have beeswax and damar so we improvised by melting down candles on her kitchen stove. What fun that was!

Here is Marlene's friend Rosemary who joined us on the patio that day. Lots of Marlene's friends dropped by too so we had a lovely lunch and wonderful time dabbling.

One of the themes of this trip turned out to be amaranth and it's amazing health benefits so I did a collage honoring the grain which came down to us from the Aztecs. If you enlarge the photo you will see the cut up Chiclets I used to symbolize the grains and also the label of the key that unlocked the door of the house I stayed in on Quebrada. Very meaningful to me.

This is John standing among the agave plants at the ranch of another person we came to know there. On that day we drove to a nearby antiques yard where the Dona of the estate purchased two exquisite double doors to enclose her huerta (kitchen garden) on the hacienda.

This is one of the items at the antiques yard. Everything was outside in the weather with only one locked room containing dolls, paintings and other antiquities.

There was a mosaic studio at the hacienda where one local man and another from Tunisia cut imported stone and formed them into designs for table tops. This one was for a small table.

Here the workers are placing stones for a larger table. One table top must take weeks of patient stone cutting and setting.

I wanted so badly to get my hands in there and help. I love slow, exacting work like this.

Here spread out on a daybed is a very large table top ready to go into the iron frame that will support it. Really magnificent, reminiscent of the mosaics one sees in Italy and Pompeii.

This is the storefront of the antiquities yard showing more doors and carts. The temperature that day was in the mid-80's.

One of the dogs belonging to the owners befriends John. It seemed like everyone had a dog in Mexico and I fell in love with each of them.

The beautiful hacienda lady had us over on the night of my Birthday and treated us to a marvelous meal topped off with my favorite cake, Tres Leches. She lives in a fairy-tale house close to the central Jardin and the dinner table discussion of Mexican and American politics, economics and permaculture was perfect. I was sung to in two languages. By candlelight. Ahhh.

I sneaked off a few snapshots at the Belles Artes for you. Above is the work of Javier Arevalo who was showing there. One of the main reasons I love Mexican art is because of the originality, power and authenticity of the creators. I think the work above exemplifies this. It is a watercolor on paper.

Above is my long time friend Guy (Ricardo), cracking confetti and powder filled eggs on the heads of people in the Jardin to celebrate Carnival (Mardi Gras). It is a weird custom. See the girl with the bag full of eggs? And notice the silver power on Guy's hands. This is what ends up in your hair and on your clothes during the weekend of egg-cracking. It was mayhem with lots of shrieking and laughter.

On Sunday we went out to Patsy's Place to partake of a feast of margaritas and curried Lamb. I first met Patsy on that same trip 9 years ago and she is a wonder of an entrepreneur and dream creator. I'll show you more photos of her house in a following post. Another magical day.

I can't resist a good knocker.

Shot a photo at Marlene's of a ceramic sculpture. Not sure who made it.

I met this fellow when we travelled to my friends' place in Pozos. We took the children school and art supplies. They are so very poor by our standards but rich in spirit. The need for help is great.

This irresistable girl glued herself to me right away. We compared muscles and did our best to converse in my few words of Spanish. She reminds me of the beautiful Penelope Cruz.

John brought me an entire bush of Gardenias for my Birthday. I cut one perfect flower to press and bring home with me and gave the rest to our lovely housekeeper. I adore the fragrance and the flower has many layers of meaning for me. John knows this and walked miles and miles in the heat to locate this specimen.

Gabriella again, this time listening to the quartet that my friends hired to come to our house and sing to us on my birthday. Gabriella is a film maker, restaurateur and political activist who has traveled widely. I wish you could see her talk. She cracks me up with her keen wit and facial expressions.

On this day she taught us how to cook nopales (those cactus paddles), stuffed peppers, stuffed amaranth rellenos, fava soup and a pasilla chili sauce. OMG, it was delicious.

Here she dips the stuffed amaranth in beaten egg whites in preparation for frying.

Icy cerveza to accompany the meal on the patio. It was a hot day.

And here are our musicians who played for us for at least an hour while we laughed and wept at the overwhelming beauty of the moment. I'm 64 and you do still love me.

This is a composite photo taken at the Nirvana one night. I love the painting.

This senora is pooped after a long session at the keyboard. I'm deluged under mail, bills, email and jet-lag so give me a few days to get my sea legs under me again. I'll continue this later.


Shawn Borror said...

lovely post, so happy you are back, rest well.

honeybee said...

Such gorgeous photos of San Miguel! For some reason, I feel really hungry now. :-)

The gardenia tidbit was beautiful. How sweet.

katie said...

welcome home senora, you have been missed!! what a perfect place for you to celebrate your birthday, and this blog post is the best, BEST!!! thank you for taking the time and effort i know it takes when you're home, pooped, and getting settled, to share with us through photos and words your enlivening experience. i think my mouth hung open and my eyes were wide with anticipation as i went through and savored each photo and description of your time, people, and impressions. i am now in love with Javier Arevalo's work, love! and those men creating the stone mosaic table, oh yes, i can imagine how you would have wanted to jump in and help - i felt that through the screen. rest and catch up - kisses darlin! xoxo

femminismo said...

Yes, so very glad you're back and have shared. We know you have many more tales and photos. Take your time and rest - but hurry! haha

Liesel said...

Oh lovely, luscious, delightful!!! Thank you for carrying us in your pocket so that we may vicariously enjoy this lovely adventure! See you at Artfest!

Donna Heart said...

What a magical and intoxicating place! I found myself longing to jump into those pictures and be there with all those wonderful inspiring and beautiful pices of art everywhere! I'm living vicariously through you!

Candace said...

Judita! Ay caramba! Feliz feliz cumpleaños.
So so good to see you and dip into this lovely post. That last photo is just so school girl on a big adventure.
All these photos are fantastic, and what colours! The food all looks divine and the Dog checking out John is so sweet... I checked out Patsy's site, too.
Impressive! And THANKS for introducing me to yet _another_ artist to obsess over (Javier Arevalo). lol.
Take care and welcome home!
Your Friend in Athens

Sea Mist and Sunsets said...

San Miguel...thank you for so many beautiful reminders of a place I have only visited once, thirty years ago, yet still speak of often. None like it elsewhere I think. The perfect trip to take prior to the busy schedule you have coming up. Love the food, art, antiques and especially the people you've shared here. I'll go to sleep tonight remembering the high walls in and around San Miguel where the dogs walk and keep watch over the haciendas below.
Thanks, Chris

Lynn said...

Your life overwhelms. It's like a very very very good movie. I like watching it...I wish I could taste the tastes but I pretend I can, I almost can, it's so beautiful...I am happy for you and all your experiences. And yes, all the art you saw that you shared with us is awesome.
Happy Birthday!

Ro Bruhn said...

Happy Birthday Judy, what a wonderful way to celebrate. How lovely is John to get you a whole bush of gardenias, their perfume is exquisite. The food looks so delicious and I love the photo of you, look forward to your next post.

Anonymous said...

Welcome Home! Missed you mucho,senorita!!! Thank you for sharing so much--your art,your joys,and your adventures.
You and hubby so inspire me.
Missy from the bayou

Tracey said...

What a fantastic trip! Thanks for inviting us to travel via your photos and narrative. AND Happy birthday, Judy!! Cheers!

Ricë said...

fabulous! happy birthday and welcome home--and on to the next adventure!

Maija said...

WAY cool!

RowanDeVoe said...

Happy Birthday! Ack! I love all these photos! What an amazing time. I went to school at the Art Institue of San Miguel years ago and it was fantastic! I lived with a wonderful family and it was just an amazing and wonderful experience-I am so jealous! I hope I can get back someday.
Take care,

Michelle said...

what a beautiful journey. love all the vibrant colors the foods are making me hungry! thank you for sharing with us!

Seth said...

Happy birthday! Everything about this trip, this place and this post is so creative. Talk about an artist's dream!

bee said...

sweet beautiful.
your journey, your birthday, your art, your life.
you were missed and the joy of anticipation was knowing all that you would share on your return.

it won't be long....

Anonymous said...

Welcome home, what a fab B-Day!
The last photo of you looked just like a painting!
steph b

JenEve said...

Loved your post! San Miguel is on my dream list so i loved seeing the color, the food, the art! thank you for sharing the adventure

mkayteem on scs said...

Oh, that was wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing! How precious and cute was that dog peering over John's shoulder! Recuperate and then tell us more!

Jennifer White said...

Judy, it's like I felt I was on this journey through your fantastic pictures and descriptions....I think Katie said it best, how amazing of you to document this through your blog to share!!! And the time it must've taken....I hope you're able to rest and get can be so exhausting to return home after traveling.

I've never been to San Miguel....but I sure want to include it now on my places to visit.

Cathy said...

What an amazing blog you have. Love all your wonderful and inspiring photographs. My favourite has to be that amazing green wooden horse. I want one just like that for the garden...ha ha.

Jill Berry said...

Dear Judy, Thank you for your kind response to my blog, and thank you for giving me this vicarious trip through Mexico... what a wonder!
See you in a few weeks! I am so excited to be going to Artfest.