Tag Archives: Mauricio Cervantes

Oaxaca Matria Therapeutic Art Garden: Cultural Center for Music and More

Matria Jardin Arterapeutico is the manifestation of artist Maurico Cervantes’ imagination.  With the help of many, many others plus foundation funding, a decayed, roofless 17th century colonial building in Oaxaca’s historic center has become a cultural mecca.  It is at once a moveable art installation, organic garden, educational teaching center, music and arts venue, and inspiration for innovation — a fine example of what to do with aging space with great bones.

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Despite a late Sunday afternoon rainstorm (much needed, I might say), Matria hosts Sandmann and The Voodoo Cat, a three-person cabaret-style ensemble for our listening pleasure.  Tucked inside the only area with shelter from the sky, Kati Sandmann (vocals, guitar), Dabeat Morales (percussion), and Ricardo Chavez (guitar) perform as if the 40 of us is a sold-out audience of hundreds at Carnegie Hall.

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Their range goes from blues to folk to swing to rock with a hint of jazz. Kati’s voice sounds like Edith Piaf or Lotte Lenya, extending from alto to alto soprano.  She sings multi-lingual in German, French, Spanish and English. It is at times atonal, dissonant and altogether appealing.  I hear Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht, Bob Dylan, Jacques Brel, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen, and Ray Charles.

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Not too long into the concert the skies opened and out came the umbrellas. The band played on — unflappable.  We stayed, enraptured with the sound, and the rain coming through the porous roof.  At this moment, church bells sound calling people to Sunday evening mass.  The bells blend perfectly with the music. Two standing ovations brought two more songs before the concert ended. When in Oaxaca during the summer, the best advice is to carry a paragua when going out.

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The concert ended.  The skies cleared. I returned to the courtyard, rain reflected on organic food, in mirrors, in the bathtub lily pond encased in an old bed frame.


Lots of ideas here for gardening and imagining and meditating.

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Matria Jardin Arteterapeutico, Murguia #103, between Macedonio Alcala and 5 de Mayo.  Check out their Facebook page for upcoming events.

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El Sueño de Elpis: Oaxaca Art Interprets Hope

While Elpis was locked inside Pandora´s box, a miracle furrowed through her dreams: the possibility of a 360-degree turn for humanity, a change that would make the world a better place. She dreamed of the virtues that abounded back in the days when the world honored the sacred feminine ways: actual times in which life and all of its processes were in tune with Earth’s natural rhythms, the seasonal cycles, the equality of all beings — animate and inanimate, equality among genders, among the most diverse species.  When she awoke, she told men and women about her dream and the miracle started to materialize.


Artist Mauricio Cervantes‘ interpretation of Elpis’ dream is manifested through a multimedia art installation at Murguia #103 in Oaxaca’s historic district.  The exhibition will be open through Sunday, November 4, 2012.

The space is magical and inspiring. A roofless historic adobe building, living spaces undefined, texture, mood, and altars that are bed frames and yellow chairs adorned with cempasuchitl, the flowers of the dead, ubiquitous during this time of Day of the Dead in Oaxaca.  The altars are suspended, floating, reflected, rooted.


Photography workshop participant Helene Haviland and I met Mauricio in the patio of the 17th century once-splendid home hours before the official opening, when the light and shadow were perfect.  Art students were putting the finishing touches on a mural.  Curator Pablo Rico was taking a break, and Mauricio, always generous with his time, explained the meaning of the installation to us.


There is so much here that is rich for reflection.  The cracks in the mortar, the decay, the dreams of the builders, the ability to take what is a shell and reconstruct it into something magnificent, beautiful, and strong.  Even stronger.  We go to the core in this space to ask, who are we and what is our hope for humanity.


And finally, the camera often shows us what our eyes do not — the many layers of life waiting to be excavated, that we choose our altars, our prayers and the path to salvation.  The cut flowers will die, their scent will dissipate, but our dreams live on in the collective ambition to create a better, cleaner, safer world.

Day of the Dead teaches us that life is cyclical and the spirit of life regenerates.

Coming Up:  Street Photography starts January 16.  Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat starts March 8.  There is always something wonderful happening in Oaxaca to capture.


Portrait Photography in Oaxaca, Day One

Oaxaca, Mexico is a perfect portrait photography learning laboratory for a workshop. Her people are expressive, colorful and make great subjects for photographers.  Yesterday morning, we gathered in the courtyard of El Diablo y La Sandia for a learning session with Matt Nager, our talented instructor from Denver, Colorado.  Then, we went out on the street to practice what we learned.

After lunch, we went into the studio space of artist Mauricio Cervantes who is preparing for an upcoming exhibition in the Chelsea district of Manhattan, New York City.  We posed Mauricio for a series of portraits that each of us took turns taking.

Here are my best shots of the day of Mauricio Cervantes:


And, my best street shots.  [The difficult part for me was to go up to complete strangers and ask their permission to take their photographs, standing no more than 2 feet away from them.  This requires establishing a relationship. That’s very different from using a telephoto lens and doing sleuth photography.  Sometimes, I got turned down and just carried on.]



Next photography workshop is Oaxaca Photography Expedition: Market Towns and Artisan Villages this summer.  If you are interested in the next Street and Portrait Photography Workshop with Matt Nager, send me an email.







Artist’s Studio: Mauricio Cervantes, Oaxaca, Mexico

There is a robust contemporary art scene in Oaxaca that is rooted in the Mexican art traditions of Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros with influences by Francisco Toledo, Oaxaca’s living art treasure.  Mauricio Cervantes is one of the new generation who taps deeply into his cultural history.


Hidden behind a peacock-blue facade on Avenida Benito Juarez near the corner of Murguia in the historic district of Oaxaca, Mexico, is the studio and home of artist Mauricio Cervantes.  I reach for the polished brass knocker shaped like a hand that adorns the door painted glossy iron red.  Its placement on the door is high and off-center.  Even the black stain of soot from spent candles on the entry wall is artful like a stencil of feathers or apparition.

Mauricio and I are acquainted through a mutual friend who introduced us last year.  Recently, he invited me to visit and I accepted this chance to know him better through his work. He is preparing for a show that will open on April 19 at Heskin Contemporary art gallery in Chelsea, New York City, and his studio is abuzz with assistants.

We sit comfortably at either end of a sofa in a great room that combines kitchen, dining and gathering area.  Most of the rooms that frame the central patio of the historic adobe home are given over to studio space.  A pot of stew simmers on the stove.  I ask Mauricio to tell me about the ingredients of his work. Bundles of cempazuchitl line the horizontal space behind the food preparation area. Hammering and sanding are background music.

“I paint time and antiquity,” says Mauricio.  “I am in love with the rust patina of ancient frescoes and facades.”  Antiquity to Mauricio does not mean history with dates, names of heroes or places of import.  It is conceptual and mythical, an undefined archetypical expression of space and time open to interpretation.

Forms float suspended, anchored on tiles of concrete that are prepared in a style called baldosas hidrolicas.  This is a type of fresco technique but instead of using wet plaster, he uses acids, oil paint and sometimes gold leaf.  Mauricio points to one of his works hanging in the kitchen, explaining that it is a portrait of a family.  In another piece, he describes what could be interpreted as a procession, a dream sequence, or a partner relationship.  His work feels introspective.  From deep within he extracts subterranean figures that are intertwined and relational, as if they were one.

Trained in classical painting, etching and drawing techniques at UNAM in Mexico City, Mauricio remembers that his professors were excellent artists, engravers and painters.  The fine, sharp edges in his work are reminiscent of an engraving.


As a child growing up in Puebla, Mauricio was influenced by his Swiss-German teachers, who were interested in anthropology, art and literature.  He traveled with his class on field trips to the Sierra Norte of Puebla where they explored archeological sites and indigenous villages, and then later to Germany.  These experiences inspired Mauricio to search for meaning through art.


For Mauricio, space is an essential component for creativity.  “To create beauty you have to be living in a beautiful space.  Art is drama, like life.  To create and transform, you have to be living in a container to support you to go further.  The space must be soothing, not disturbing,”  he says.  He is surrounded by touches of flowers, sleek clay sculpture, painted wood furniture with the character of age, and the utensils of his craft.

In years past, he rented outside the city in remote neighborhoods to have the space he needed.  Perhaps the location was an island in the midst of poverty or in new suburbs without a distinctive face or personality.  Now, he is in the center of Oaxaca’s art universe and beyond.


As one would expect, Mauricio is passionate about his work.  I marvel at how well he can integrate his living and work space.  And, I am reminded that making art means being immersed in the creative process with no boundaries around space and time.


Mauricio Cervantes, cervantesmauricio@gmail.com, studio telephone: (951) 516-2089.  Art installations for walls, floors and exterior spaces.  Mauricio works with architects, landscape and garden designers.



Artist Mauricio Cervantes Exhibits at Manuel Garcia Contemporary Art Gallery in Oaxaca

Mauricio Cervantes Exhibition Cibeles Sombra

Mauricio Cervantes is an expressive and accomplished contemporary artist who lives and works in Oaxaca.  His new exhibition of recent works, Cibeles Sombra, is showing until May 7 at the Manuel Garcia Contemporary Art Gallery located at Portal Benito Juarez #110.  If you are visiting or live in Oaxaca, please put this on your calendar.  Let them know you read about it here!

Gallery Hours: Monday through Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. (closed for lunch 2-4 p.m.).  On Saturday, the hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Telephone: (951) 514-1093.

You can visit Mauricio’s website/blog at www.mauriciocervantes.wordpress.com/exposiciones/

Mauricio Cervantes Exhibition at Galeria Manuel Garcia, Oaxaca