Tag Archives: Tito Mendoza

Portrait Photography Workshop in Oaxaca: The Best of Day Two

The family of weaver Erasto “Tito” Mendoza Ruiz are wonderful subjects for portrait photography.  Rather than explain, I will show by introducing you to Tito, his wife Alejandrina, and their two children Liliana and Santiago.   Here are my best portraits of the day.


Thanks so much to Tito, Alejandrina, Liliana and Santiago for participating with us.  Ale and Tito own El Nahual a folk art gallery in Oaxaca city.  It is filled with some of the best treasures of the villages along with Tito’s stunning, award-winning Saltillo-style tapestry weaving and Francisco Toledo‘s lithographs and etchings. Please visit when you are in town.


For me,  it is much easier to photograph one person than four people!  So patience, humor, taking plenty of breaks, asking your subjects to stretch, and taking more photos than you think you need is the key to getting a selection of really good shots.

Our next Oaxaca Market Towns and Artisan Villages photography workshop starts June 28.



University of Wisconsin Hosts Oaxaca Weaver Tito Mendoza, October 7-12, 2011

News and Events:  Oaxaca, Mexico weaver and artist Erasto “Tito” Mendoza will be in Madison and Whitewater, Wisconsin, October 7-12, 2011, to discuss and demonstrate tapestry weaving techniques.


For weaver Erasto “Tito” Mendoza, weaving is more than a skill passed down through the generations of his Zapotec family.  It is an art form that combines complexity of design, integration of traditional, ancient indigenous patterns with imagination and a contemporary sensibility. The result is a magnificent rendering of color, texture, pattern and interpretation.

Tito with his award-winning rug, Aires Zapotecos

The singer-songwriter Lila Downs has commissioned numerous pieces from Tito that are used in her performances and for public relations events.  His work, “Aires Zapotecos” was a finalist in the VI International Biennale of Contemporary Textile Art.  In 2010, Tito was invited to the juried and very selective Santa Fe International Folk Art Festival to show and sell his work. Carolyn Kallenborn, faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, chose Tito to feature in her documentary film Vidas Entretejidas–Woven Lives about Oaxaca and its weaving culture.  He was one of six great Oaxaca weavers who were selected.

Lila Downs wearing a Tito Mendoza sarape, photo by Norma Hawthorne

Tito and his wife, Alejandrina Rios, who own the El Nahual Gallery on Av. 5 de Mayo in the Centro Historico of Oaxaca. will be in Wisconsin for the week of October 7-12.  If you live anywhere in driving distance, I urge you not to miss this opportunity to meet them, chat and hear about their work.

An innovative tapestry by Tito Mendoza

Schedule of Events

Friday, October 7, 5:00 p.m. — Centro Hispano, Madison, WI, 810 Badger Road, http://micentro.org/ — Free and open to the public.  A conversation with Tito and Ale and filmmaker Carolyn Kallenborn.  At 6:00 p.m. there will be a screening of the film Vidas Entretejidas–Woven Lives in Spanish with English subtitles.

Friday, October 7, 7:00 p.m., Madison Weaver’s Guild — Oakwood Village, 5565 Tancho Drive, Madison.  Contact Pat Hilts, vlhilts@wisc.edu, with discussion and screening of Vidas Entretejidas–Woven Lives in English.  The event is free and open to the public.

Tuesday, October 11, 3:30 p.m., University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, University Center Room 266, film screening and discussion, free and open to the public.

Wednesday, October 12, 1:20-3:50 p.m., UW-Madison Design Studies Department Weaving Class — Tito Mendoza will give a demonstration of tapestry weaving.

Carolyn’s film also features Federico Chavez Sosa, master weaver of Teotitlan del Valle.  Translation assistance was provided by Eric Chavez Santiago, director of education at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, and Janet Chavez Santiago, education coordinator at the Centro Académico y Cultural San Pablo.

For information, contact:

Carolyn Kallenborn, cmkallen@wisc.edu

Film Website: www.wovenlivesoaxaca.com

Tito and Ale’s Oaxaca Gallery: www.elnahualfolkart.blogspot.com

and their email address:  elnahual75@prodigy.net.mx 

Las Cuevitas 2010

We arrived late in the afternoon at that magic hour between daylight and sunset when everything is aglow.  Village people had been gathering on the mountainside behind the village since last night, many of them camping overnight.  There are some shallow caves there that are holy altars and each year a pilgrimage takes place to this spot where families gather, eat, take the rocks from the hillside and build miniature structures that represent the grand houses they wish for.  Everyone wants a house and everyone wants their house that is under construction to be complete.  This is what dreams are made of and the biggest dream for a Teotiteco family is to have a large casa where all the extended family of multi-generations can live together comfortably.

As we got in line to make our wishes at the altar, I saw this stunning, tall woman coming out of the small hillside chapel.  She was dressed like an angel in a gorgeous handwoven silk and wool sarape.  I got as close as I could to take photos of this incredible garment, which you will see in the gallery above.  Today, I found out that this was woven by my friend Tito Mendoza and the person wearing it was none other than Lila Downs.

This year, Federico and Stephen gathered rocks helped by Dolores, Janet and me, and completed the houses we have had under construction for two years as miniatures right before our eyes, complete with garden, roofs, courtyards, driveway and fencing surrounding the property.  Others sat alongside their completed rock houses, nibbling on sweets or drinking beer, or lighting bonfires and shooting off firecrackers.  By the time it was dark, the hillside was aglow with firelight, families gathered together, contemplating their dreams.

Alejandrina with Norma’s Coral Neck Collar

This is my friend Alejandrina Rios Sanchez who owns El Nahual Gallery on Av. Cinco de Mayo with her husband Tito Mendoza.  She is wearing the collar de cuello — the neck collar I designed and made.  It is my gift to her.  It is red coral beads each individually hand sewn onto a handmade fabric cord, with ties finished off with coral bead tips.  Doesn’t it look great on her?

Oaxaca Shopping: New El Nahual Gallery Showcases Tito Mendoza Weavings

Husband and wife team Tito Mendoza and Alejandrina Rios Sanchez are creative, talented and have a flair for design.  Tito, cousin of the famed Arnulfo Mendoza, is an excellent weaver in his own right and his intricate handwoven textiles are extraordinary.  Ale knows how to put together fabrics, whimsical animalitos, hand-wrought metal decor, and folkloric touches that create a magical space with unusual and interesting design elements.  Their modest adobe casita in Teotitlan del Valle, where they retreat on weekends, is full of antiques, collectibles, handmade furniture, and contemporary art.  The mix is beautiful and Ale has replicated this feel in their new gallery, El Nahual.

Now, after years of working in the gallery at El Mano Magico on the main cobblestone pedestrian thoroughfare of Macedonio Alcala in the historic center of Oaxaca, Ale is expressing herself through a new venture that she and Tito have embarked upon.

El Nahual is located on Avenida 5 de Mayo, parallel to Macedonio Alcala, and just down from where 5 de Mayo intersects with Gurrion, the side street that borders the iglesia Santo Domingo.  You will find lovely wool and silk handbags woven by Tito, intricately woven cotton handbags formed on a backstrap loom from one of the premiere weavers of Santo Tomas Jalieza, the silvercast jewelry made by Frenchwoman Brigitte of Kanda Designs, personally selected and highest quality alebrijes of all shapes and sizes, little mirror hearts that are perfect to reflect light from a bathroom or hallway wall, and giant red hearts with wings that makes my heart sing.  The two-room shop is full of surprises and the quality of everything is the best you can find anywhere in town.  The prices are fair and do not have an exorbitant mark-up.

The best thing for me when I drop by, is to be greeted by Ale and her lovely daughter Liliana, who give everyone who enters a warm welcome.