Tag Archives: drawing

Oaxaca Artist Gabriel Mendoza Lives Here

Oaxaca artist Gabriel Mendoza Rodriguez lives obscurely and paints large. His works are filled with color, humor, sadness, political and social commentary. They are playful and grotesque, childlike and sophisticated, simple and complex.

Two large paintings in Gabo's studio

Two large paintings in Gabo’s studio

Look into Gabo’s eyes and you know that he feels what he paints — street children, prostitutes, farm animals. These are interpretations of life as he knew it growing up in Mexico City and what he sees here in Oaxaca.

Gabriel "Gabo" Mendoza Rodriguez in front of colonial adobe wall

Gabriel “Gabo” Mendoza Rodriguez in front of colonial adobe wall

I look at Gabo’s work and think back to Mexico’s political satirical movement started by Jose Guadalupe Posada. Diego Rivera revered Posada. So did his contemporaries David Alfaro Siquieros and Jose Clemente Orozco. Many of their paintings seem like a cartoon.  The satirical cartoon is a hallmark of Mexican art and I see it, especially, in Gabriel Mendoza‘s work.

Expansive courtyard where Gabo works

Expansive courtyard where Gabo works

Gabo lives and works within the second courtyard of a vintage colonial adobe home in the historic center of Oaxaca. The front door is now metal with only the street number visible. Inside, the first courtyard is filled with old restaurant equipment and surrounded by vacant rooms.

Three calaveras -- skeletons -- a common theme, a different approach

Three calaveras — skeletons — a common theme, a different approach

Walk further back and you enter an expansive brick patio where Gabo works. Here are easels, a printing press, a table saw for building frames for paintings and doors, murals and drawings on the crumbling stucco walls. Beyond are abandoned rooms where only debris and termite eaten timbers lay waiting for rehabilitation or burial. Work is in progress.

Decades of disuse in a building with great bones

Decades of disuse in a building with great bones

This is studio space that is used by several artists and Gabo hopes that more will come here to create and collaborate.


Please feel free to go and knock on the door. This is a part of Oaxaca worth exploring and a talented young man you will want to meet. With thanks to Dumpster Diver Diva Ellen Benson for the introductions!

Layers of acrylic paint on woven paper, texture and color

Layers of acrylic paint on woven paper, texture and color

Gabriel “Gabo” Mendoza Rodriguez, Xicotencatl #303 (between Guerrero and Colon).  Knock loudly and ring the bell several times! You say the street: She-Koh-Ten-Caht-L


Above left, my artist friend Hollie Taylor visiting from North Carolina. Above right, a painted kitchen cupboard.

Portraits of women, in progress, with cut-out paper doll

Portraits of women, in progress, with cut-out paper doll





Evoking Frida Kahlo: Making Memory Altars and Shrines

Mexico is filled with altars that usually include sacred images and a Virgin of Guadalupe retablo. During Day of the Dead a family altar displays photographs of departed loved ones. We are taking this mixed media art workshop, based in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico, beyond the norm to create a three-dimensional altar suitable for display. Frida Kahlo is our muse.

4 Days, February 25 – 28, 2016

Frida with monkey copy 800 kb self-portrait-with-necklace-of-thorns

e·voke. əˈvōk/. verb

bring or recall to the conscious mind, conjure up, summon up, invoke, elicit, induce, kindle, stimulate, awaken, arouse, call forth

Frida offers us inspiration for constructing an altar about life, womanhood, loved ones, family, health issues, successes and set-backs. We hold up Frida’s image, perhaps in self-reflection, to imagine her life and its challenges and to evoke meaning for our own. We then translate these concepts into an altar or shrine that can be used for wall art, to display on a surface or to design as a shelving unit for collected objects.

Consider making this a self-portrait altar!

Diego_Frida_July2014-115 Frida close up2.800KB.copy

Frida was an avid collector of exvotos and perhaps you would like to merge this simple expression of thanksgiving and devotion in your work, too.

Diego_Frida_July2014-101  Diego_Frida_July2014-107 DiegoFrida4Group2-10

When we think of Frida Kahlo, we may conjure up many images and words to describe her: a woman of strength, power, frailty, independence, weakness, accomplishment, talent. Biographers say she was fierce, passionate, defiant, innovative, creative, vulnerable. We know she was deformed, in pain, proud.


Your personal altar can be based on your own experience. We embrace Frida as a metaphor to jump into a new creative realm. Your altar might be a tribute to someone you love who is living or passed on. Your altar might contain a message to send or include as a gift. It can be about you, friends, family or Frida herself.


About Hollie Taylor, MFA, Workshop Leader

Hollie Taylor earned the BFA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill focusing on painting and printmaking. She then went on to the University of Georgia and received the MFA with a concentration in printmaking.

Hollie taught drawing, printmaking, painting and ceramics at the college, middle and high school levels. For over 20 years, she has taught adult workshops in handmade paper-making, screen-printing, woodcutting, photo-imaging on clay, ceramic hand-building, mixed media art and art journaling.  

She is a recipient of the North Carolina Museum of Art annual artist scholarship award. Her work is published in Art Voices South and The Village Rambler. She earned the prestigious National Board Certification for Teaching Excellence and her students placed repeatedly in national shows. 

Hollie encourages deep personal exploration, offers demonstrations and samples of finished products.  Art produced at her workshops is highly individualistic, broad ranging in style and expressive of the maker. Participants come to the table with varied past creative experiences and she accommodates fully for this range of novice to accomplished artist. She gives personal feedback and encouragement and holds informal discussions to compare intent with outcome, noting what has been learned. A workshop with Hollie is engaging and fun!

A new project for Hollie involves making a book using found family letters and archival photos from Brazil during World War II. This will become a mixed media art show installation based on composites she is rendering in Photoshop to glean new meaning from the material. 


Process and Materials

Using found objects, copies of photographs, paint, paper, memorabilia and embellishments, you will construct either a 8” x 10” three-dimensional sculptural piece or a 12” x 16” flat art wall piece.

Materials We Provide: We provide step-by-step altar-making directions and construction materials, plus selected art supplies such as self-healing cutting mats, box cutters, some acrylic inks, assorted decorative papers, handmade clay medallions and selected ephemera art associated with Frida Kahlo.

8.Frida.Paint altar parts with acrylic ink.800KBcopy

Materials To Bring: A sharp pencil, rubber bands, assorted size small brushes, embellishments such as stamps, charms, shells, milagros, copies of photographs, textiles. Try to imagine what will symbolize the different attribute’s of your altar’s theme and bring what will enhance its meaning. After you register, we will send you a complete list of supplementary supplies to bring. Participants often share for a wider range of choice.


Resources: Hollie recommends Crafting Personal SHRINES, Using Photos, Mementos & Treasures to Create Artful Displays, by Carol Owen, Lark Books, 2004.

Our Schedule: Daily, 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. includes catered lunch  

Day One, Thursday, February 25: We look at images of altars and sacred boxes, visit church and private home altars, and talk about Frida Kahlo – her style and what she valued. You will come with a concept for your creation, and with Hollie’s guidance you will finish the design and begin to build your project.

Day Two, Friday, February 26: Continue to build your altar, wrapping it, painting it, and gluing it together to form a completed container for what will come next. You may also want to add a door and small shadow boxes to display memorabilia reflecting your concept.

Rolling on Matte Medium to seal the foam core.

Rolling on Matte Medium to seal the foam core.

Day Three, Saturday, February 27: Finish altar construction. Begin to decorate and embellish your altar with photos (copies), writing, drawing, found objects and memorabilia you have brought with you.

Day Four, Sunday, February 28: You will add the finishing touches before we hang your finished work for a group show and presentation of your piece, followed by a grand finale mezcal margarita cocktail reception.


Workshop Cost

Base Cost – Workshop Only: $495 per person, includes all instruction, materials to construct your altar or wall art, hand-outs, guided visits to family homes and churches for altar research, 4 lunches and cocktail reception. This option is designed for people who do not need lodging, and want to travel back and forth daily from Oaxaca city.

Upgrade 1 – Workshop + Share Room: $665 per person shared room with private bath en suite. Includes all of the above plus 4 nights lodging, arriving on Wednesday, February 24 and departing Sunday, February 28 by 6 p.m. Includes 4 continental breakfasts. We assign rooms in order of registrations received. Contact us for availability.

Upgrade 2 — Workshop and Private Room/Bath: $795. Includes all of the above.

How to Register

The workshop does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, some meals, and local transportation to and from Oaxaca city.  We can arrange taxi pick-up and return from/to the Oaxaca airport at your own expense (approximately 280 pesos).

Reservations and Cancellations A 50% deposit is required to guarantee your spot. The last payment for the balance due (including any add-ons) shall be paid by January 6, 2016. We accept payment with PayPal only. We will send you an itemized invoice when you tell us you are ready to register.  After January 6, refunds are not possible.  You may send a substitute in your place.  If you cancel before January 6, we will refund 50% of your deposit.


Required–Travel Health/Accident Insurance:  We require that you carry international accident/health/emergency evacuation insurance. Proof of insurance must be sent at least two weeks before departure.  If you do not wish to do this, we ask you email a PDF of a witnessed waiver of responsibility, holding harmless Norma Hawthorne Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. Unforeseen circumstances happen!

Workshop Details and Travel Tips.  Before the workshop begins, we will email you a map, instructions to get to the workshop site from the airport, and documents that includes extensive travel tips and information. To get your questions answered and to register, contact: oaxacaculture@me.com

This retreat is produced by Norma Schafer, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We reserve the right to make itinerary changes and substitutions as necessary.

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