Tag Archives: Galeria Fe y Lola

Omar’s Discovery Tour: A First Visit to the USA

Omar Chavez Santiago is twenty-four years old. He is a weaver and natural dyer from Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico. Last year, he graduated with a degree in industrial engineering after studying for four years at Anahuac University in Oaxaca. He is at a cross-roads.

Fayetteville, Lillington, Coats, NC friends give Omar a warm welcome in Durham. Thanks Becky, Robin and Debbie for your support.

Does he pursue a professional engineering career and move to Monterrey or continue in the generations-old family tradition of his Zapotec culture?

On March 1, 2017, Omar went to Mexico City for an interview appointment at the US Embassy to follow-up on his visitor visa application to enter the USA. He is male. He is young. We didn’t know what his chances would be. Slim, I thought. Very slim. So few are allowed to enter.

I wrote my Congressman G.K. Butterfield ((D-NC) to ask if they would send a message and alert the Embassy staff that Omar would be there on March 1 to present a letter of invitation from me and Wendy Sease, owner of INDIO Durham. We invited him to give a presentation and sale of the family’s 100% naturally dyed wool rugs in early April.

List to this GistYarn Podcast with Omar Chavez Santiago

Omar, age 24, has been weaving since he was eight years old.

An alert is different from a request to approve. No one interferes with US Embassy immigration decisions. An alert just says, Look out for this applicant. I guess they did. At the end of the short interview, Omar was awarded a 10-year visa. Ojala.

Discovering La Superior Carneceria y Super Tienda, Durham

Three weeks later, the paperwork arrived in Teotitlan del Valle, and Omar arrived in Durham, North Carolina on March 28.

I started calling this Omar’s Discovery Tour because everything was new to him. Exciting. Inspiring. Being here gave him the chance to see that what Galeria Fe y Lola creates in Oaxaca is linked to the home goods fashion cycle in the USA, where most of their clients come from. It connected the dots.

A walk through Duke University with Jacob and Hettie.

He discovered that design and color preferences change according to season. Texture and palette compliment. He saw traditional and contemporary side-by-side. He saw cities and farmland. Innovation and comfort. The edges where his countrymen and women live beyond the chi-chi neighborhoods, shopping in grocery stores named La Superior Carneceria or Compare or Tienda Mexicana Guadalupana, where life is familiar and safe. He heard an earful about politics, leadership void and political discontent.

A walk through Duke Gardens with Jacob

Omar thinks we are organized, tidy, friendly, and open to opportunity. (Of course, we know this is NOT a universal truth in the USA.)

Lime bikes propagate in downtown Durham. Take a ride.

He likes that people here greet him with a smile, that cars stop for pedestrians, and he can ride a Lime Bike on the American Tobacco Trail all afternoon for a few dollars, followed by beer and bonding at Ponysaurus with Jacob and Kathryn. He likes that we recycle (some of us). And, he can put on his jogging shoes and run for miles on groomed paths and streets.

Wow, there are REALLY good goat tacos here, just like in Mexico

It got to the point after the first week that he could rank order the best hamburgers in Durham after tastings at many restaurants. In retail shops, he was invited to sit down in a comfy chair or sofa, offered refreshment, and an invitation to kibbitz informally. He saw that deep friendships can be formed well beyond the inner circle of family.

A talk and cochineal dye demo at Echoview Fiber Mill, Weaverville, NC

Then, we went to Asheville and Weaverville, where the fiber arts community welcomed Omar for a cochineal dye demonstration and exhibition. We ate at Buxton Hall Barbecue and White Duck Tacos, and walked the downtown going in and out of fine art and craft galleries. He was mesmerized by the creativity. We slept in a cozy Arts & Crafts Cottage on the Blue Ridge Parkway hosted by Laura and Bryan.

100% naturally dyed churro wool rugs from Galeria Fe y Lola

Omar began to imagine that his dreams could become a reality. He began building new dreams. By the time he went home on Saturday morning after almost three weeks here, he was excited and inspired to create new designs, incorporate new business ideas, capture on cloth that which captured his imagination, and incorporate elements of traditional Zapotec motifs with new energy.

I wish we could give this opportunity to other talented young Mexicans who have dreams, who want to create and add value to their country.

Making the presentation at Echoview Fiber Mill, in collaboration with Local Cloth

Cochineal dye demonstration at Echoview Fiber Mill

I feel much this way when I go to Mexico. I see that families are tightly knit, where ancient ritual gives meaning to life, how reverence for the elderly shapes  continuity, how people take time to be with families and celebrate together.

Art at the Durham Museum Hotel

Travel broadens and opens us up to more than new experiences. It gives us something intangible, a new neural pathway to exploration, learning, becoming. It gives us an opportunity to befriend, to connect and to live expansively with meaning.

Taking a break at Ponysaurus Brewing Company, Durham

It was twelve-and-a-half years ago when I met Omar’s brother Eric and sister Janet in the Teotitlan del Valle rug market. They were both students, not knowing where their paths would lead. Omar was not quite twelve. Through mutual support and effort, our lives were changed.

Thanks to all who supported Omar with a purchase!

Laura and her family with Omar in Asheville

There are many people to thank for making Omar’s Discovery Tour possible: parents Federico Chavez Sosa and Dolores Santiago Arrellenas in Teotitlan del Valle; Wendy Sease, Hettie Johnson, Jacob Singleton, Kathryn Salisbury, Karen Soskin, Steve Haskin, Nick and Rochelle Johnson in Durham; Laura and Bryan Tompkins, Judi Jetson with Local Cloth, Grace Casey-Gouin at Echoview Fiber Mill in Asheville and Weaverville, and our friends everywhere.  Thank you.

We are talking now about when he may return.

 

Galeria Fe y Lola Oaxaca Rugs + Tapestries in Durham, North Carolina — All Weekend

A snapshot of Galeria Fe y Lola rugs and tapestries on exhibition today through Sunday at INDIO in Brightleaf Square, Durham. Color. Quality. Sustainable. 100% natural dyes. Meet Omar Chavez Santiago and hear about how they are made in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico. Please Share!

Mexico in Durham, North Carolina: Art & Textiles Trunk Show

INDIO owner Wendy Sease recently traveled with me to Chiapas. She bought up beautiful treasures for her shop. I’ve just returned to my apartment in Durham, North Carolina, for a couple of months with three suitcases filled with textiles and jewelry. We decided to collaborate.

YOU ARE INVITED. Bring a friend.

Plus, the BIG news is that my godson, twenty-three year old Omar Chavez Santiago, a recent industrial engineering university graduate, just received his FIRST 10-year visa to visit the USA. This is a really big deal, since the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City is pretty thrifty in giving visas.

Omar plans to talk about the 100% natural dyes used to color the pure churro sheep wool his family at Galeria Fe y Lola uses in the rugs they weave and give demonstrations. He will have beautiful tapestry rugs for sale, too. They come in all sizes.

Where is INDIO? Historic Brightleaf Square, Downtown Durham

Brick and mortar sales are hard for people who live far away. I know that. Look for a few pieces I’ll be offering online in the next few weeks, too.

 

Oaxaca Portrait Photography Session with Weaver Federico Chavez Sosa and Family

It’s Good Friday and our fifth portrait photography workshop day.  Between the “on the fly” street photography of village life and religious processions, we visited the home and studio workshop of master weaver Federico Chavez Sosa in Teotitlan del Valle.

If you have ever sat for a family portrait in a photographer’s studio, you know how complicated it can be when four or five or six people get together to have their picture taken.  When one person smiles, another can frown or someone can invariably have their eyes closed.  It’s the photographer’s greatest challenge, I discovered, to keep everyone smiling at the same time and looking straight into the camera’s lens.  Pan Comida today — Piece of Cake!

 

Fortunately for us, Federico Chavez Sosa, his wife Dolores Santiago Arrellanas, and their children Eric Chavez Santiago, Janet Chavez Santiago, Omar Chavez Santiago, and Eric’s novia Elsa Sanchez Diaz were great subjects.  There was a lot of laughter going on during and between the takes.

Everyone in this family is a weaver.  In addition to master weaver Federico, Dolores is also adept at the two-pedal floor loom, and all the children know how to weave.  Eric is the director of education at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, Janet is the educational docent at the new San Pablo Academic and Cultural Center in the historic center of Oaxaca, Omar is a student entering university this fall, and Elsa is the administrator of an art glass blowing studio in San Augustin Etla.

   

What distinguishes this family is not only their knowledge about weaving and Oaxaca textiles, but their use of one hundred percent natural dyes to prepare the wool they use to weave rugs (tapetes).  They prepare their own dye materials, using environmentally sustainable plant materials such as pecan nuts, wild marigold, pomegranates, indigo and the famous bug on the cactus plant, the cochineal.

 

We got both formal and informal photos.  And, at the end of our hour together, we toasted with a bit of mezcal.  The family operates Galeria Fe y Lola in Oaxaca’s historic center one block from Santo Domingo Church in the courtyard at Av. 5 de Mayo #408.  They are there almost every day except Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Check out our next photography workshop:  Oaxaca Photography Expedition-Market Towns and Artisan Villages, set for summer 2012.