Thursday nights are Arte Walk Oaxaca. There’s a nice little black and white map that pinpoints the independent art spaces and workshops. My favorites (plus one not listed on the map) are clustered in the neighborhood just a few blocks from the Zocalo, bounded by Hidalgo, Doblado, Xicotencatl and Colon. It’s becoming Oaxaca’s SOHO (south of Hidalgo) arts district.
While you can find the artists, a coterie of Oaxaca local art lovers spilling out onto the sidewalk outside postage stamp galleries, along with shots of mezcal, beers and bowls of spicy peanuts, Thursdays aren’t the only time to enjoy what Oaxaca is known for: GREAT GRAPHIC ART.
Most galleries are open Monday through Sunday, though often it’s catch as catch can. As is the case with many small, locally owned and/or operated shops here. Many of the galleries are cooperatives, so they are staffed by rotating volunteer artists who need a venue to show and sell their work directly. THERE IS A LOT OF TALENT HERE.
Last night, Friday, Gabriel Gabo Mendoza (tel: 951-142-7508) held an open studio where he lives and works at Xicotencatl #303. He isn’t on the map. Carol, David and I meandered in around 7 p.m. just as night was falling and the promise of a new moon hung in the sky.
Gabo’s courtyard was lit with purple twinkle lights. There were new murals on the wall. The large space will become a studio workshop for many. A table-top display held recycled Ixtlan wood mezcal boxes hand-painted with agave varieties of 750 liter bottles contained within. The mezcal is sourced locally by some of the best mezcaleros in Oaxaca and private labeled. Organic and artisanal. A great gift!
We looked through Gabo’s newest work. Talked about how artists develop and evolve over time, and how this reflects in their work along with life experiences, tragedies and joy. It was interesting to talk about the transitions from then to now, sharing life stories, sipping Agua de Jamaica (hibiscus water) and feeling the glow of the space.
Then, we moved on to Taller de Grafica La Chicharra at Xicotencatl #317. This is a cooperative workshop studio where you can also take classes. Tonight, Saturday, March 19, there is a new show opening and they were readying for it. Spectacular work here, too, by MK Kabrito (Alan Altamirano) plus many others, much of it affordable! Check out the T-Shirts.
After a stop into Proyecto 30-30, Hidalgo #1208, where a graphic arts show of humorous political images hang. By now, it was close to 8 p.m. and I knew Cooperativa Grafica Oaxaca at Manuel Doblado #210 closed at 7 p.m. I had stopped in there earlier in the afternoon to get some great prints on fabric buttons that I will give as gifts. Agave, calavera skulls and animal images make great hat adornment.
We decided it was time to get a bite to eat, so walked a few blocks north on Xicotencatl that changes name to Pino Suarez when it crosses Independencia. El Sol y La Luna Restaurante Bar, Pino Suarez #304 was our destination. Open 7 p.m. t0 midnight. Artisanal beer on tap, mezcal and sueros are featured beverages. I watched as thin crusted pizzas a la the best of Italy came out of the kitchen. We ordered cheese stuffed calzones — each crusty deliciousness. Next time, maybe a hamburger. They looked good, too.
Evenings this time of year are delightful. A wind comes up. Chills the hot air. Takes the edge off the beginning of the hot, spring rainy season (the rains haven’t come yet, though). Everything is in bloom. Purple Jacaranda line the avenues. A perfect time for an evening stroll to enjoy this city’s art scene and support the young artists who have so much to say through their work.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook: artewalkoaxaca
Women Weavers’ Cooperative Vida Nueva, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca: Part Two
This post continues the narrative about women weavers in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca. See Part One for my introduction.
Honoring Mother’s Day: For all women who gave and received life!
Vida Nueva (“New Life”) Cooperative at the International Folk Art Market
Twenty years ago, Vida Nueva cooperative was founded by six single women from the same extended family group, three of whom where sisters. Some of the women had husbands who never returned to Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, after migrating out for work. Some had not married. Some were widows. They needed to support their families and weaving had the biggest potential economic reward for their labor.
But, weaving was not women’s work.
Pomegranate dyed wool
The traditional role for women was (and still is, for the most part) to stay at home, keep house, tend the children, cook and raise small animals like chicken, sheep, pigs and goats.
Twenty years ago, weaving and then selling/marketing the product was not a usual role for women, plus it was unheard of to go to the city to develop customers. Most women of the time went barefoot, wore indigenous dress and did not go beyond the family compound expect to daily market. Entering the city was foreign, uncomfortable, intimidating.
Cleaning the finished rug
Since the height of the Bracero program, when men migrated to the U.S. as temporary farm workers, and women learned to weave out of economic necessity, the number of women who now weave is substantial. Today, most women work alongside husband, father or brother, to weave in a family centric enterprise. A few also participate in selling and receive recognition for their contributions.
It took a while for Vida Nueva to get started, but they had the help of a non-governmental agency, Grupo del Apoyo a la Educacion de la Mejor (now defunct). Through donations and business development guidance, Vida Nueva began producing rugs for sale in 2001. Their first clients, arranged by the NGO, were adult Spanish language students who were visiting Oaxaca from the United States.
Take a One-Day Natural Dye Weaving & Textile Study Tour
The cooperative meets regularly, makes decisions together, created a mission statement, a vision, goals and objectives for the organization that includes a marketing plan, and have built distribution markets over time. They also put money aside each year to invest in an annual community project that can benefit everyone in Teotitlan del Valle.
Using the stone metate to crush indigo to powder for dye
Not all the rugs woven by Vida Nueva are made with natural dyes. Most are woven with synthetic colors because most buyers don’t want to pay the price for a naturally dyed rug and prefer bright, electric colors. But, the cooperative will do custom orders for naturally dyed rugs and from time-to-time, may have some on-hand.
Today there are 12 cooperative members, two of whom are married. Their clientele has developed by word of mouth over the years, and they also have been invited to participate in shows/sales in the U.S.A. including the International Folk Art Market and the Feria at Lake Chapala, Mexico Arts Show.
Vida Nueva Women’s Cooperative Contact Information
Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca
Telephone: 951 524-4250
Some Useful Resources
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Posted in Cultural Commentary, Oaxaca rug weaving and natural dyes, Teotitlan del Valle, Textiles, Tapestries & Weaving, Travel & Tourism
Tagged Bracero program, cooperatives, economic development, Mexico, Oaxaca, social history, sociology, Teotitlan del Valle, Vida Nueva, weavers, weaving, Women, women's studies