I’m in the Art Show

Last night I went to a German artist’s show at the contemporary art museum.

I knew nothing of the artist, Sigmar Polke. I went because it was free and on the way to a free jazz show. The art was an interesting blend of painting with printing and stamping. The images were intriguing, but, for me, the titles were the arresting element. One painting was named something along the lines of:  an old man and a punk rock young man are sitting in a dark living room full of antique furniture and the father says to the young punk, “someday all of this will be yours.”
At the Saturday intercambio, I am sitting with Julio, Valentina, Mariela, and Gabriel. I mention the show and the vast titles to Gabriel who wants to learn German. Valentina says my description of the title reminds her of a truck commercial in which a man says to his son, someday all of this will be yours, referring an expanse of property. And the son asks: and the truck?
I am walking along the pedestrian corridor planning what I will say to the woman at the bakery as I request a sandwich. I walk and negotiate with myself, and then I am interrupted. An elder with coin purses yells at me in English to buy what he’s selling. I pretend I cannot hear him though my ears are open for any suggestion of English.
It strikes me that my entire month here is the art show and each post I can offer is perhaps a long title to accompany the piece.
  • Of course, this experience of being a painting makes me think of Linda Pastan’s incredible “Ethics.” http://shenandoahliterary.org/blog/2011/09/linda-pastan-ethics/ I’m not suggesting you should elect the same question (a Rembrandt painting/or an old woman who hadn’t many/ years left anyhow?) for your writing. Maybe you ought to increase the stakes?

Jumping into the Fountain

Agostino Fpuntain

The Little Businessman and Co. shed their gum and cigarettes for awhile, and we went for a walk in the dark: Agostino, Julio, Cecilia, Marisella, and I.  The two boys rain and jumped and kicked each other and tried to trip all of us.  As usual, people stared at us though it was already dark.

Agostino led us to a fountain where he promised to show us a great feat. I was nervous as I am not usually entrusted with the majority of company without parental supervision, but we followed anyway.

Agostino, at first, had us sit on the side of the fountain, a cool bench (especially since it had been raining).  The fountain was off for the night, and before I knew it, Agostino leapt to the center of the fountain, a large square that was a new stage for him.  He performed a bit of a show to our round of applause.

And then he looked across the deep chasm of the fountain still filled with water.

The ledge we were sitting on looked far away and was so much narrower than his stage.

He playfully called out to me to help him.  I did not know he was serious until his voice changed and I looked at his eyes.  He was scared.

“Help me,” he almost wailed. And, I got scared.  I could wade in and carry him out, or I could do something far more ridiculous.

Ridiculous it was.

I stood on the ledge, legs slightly apart and reached as far as I could over to him.  He grabbed my hands.  I pulled hard and he sailed at my shins like a six-year-old cannon ball.

By this time, a man had left his date on the park bench where he’d been sitting.  He had to see our show.  Having an audience didn’t help much — except maybe there’d be someone to call an ambulance when this all went wrong…

Agostino hit my legs with an incredible force.  I remained on the ledge (certain to bruise).  He remained in my hands.  Dry. Our spectator practically applauded.

Soy Ana

Soy Ana 3
My Spanish teacher was a part of the cast of the shadow and puppet show Soy Ana.  Her twin sister is the female shadow above.  Another of the instructors wrote, directed, and starred in this production.  He is the tall man in the hat.

It was full of fun wordplay and misunderstanding. It was a super creative approach, but the message seemed a bit ironic.  Ana learns a lesson to avoid getting carried away in her fantasy world; otherwise, she could lose her whole identity,

Impeccably executed and engaging for a wide audience, I was delighted to be able to see this work of art.  Here’s a sample on YouTube:  https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yrHrxu-MAec

Soy Ana Soy Ana2



When people are in traditional dress here, they expect to appear in photos. When asked for a photo, they’ll pose with whatever props they have: baskets, flags, a partner, a skirt spread as wide as the half sun that used to rise in the corner of all of my drawings.

But, when they’re getting ready, people are shy about the camera, act like I’ve rushed behind a curtain, wish I’d just wait for the show to start.



behind the scenes

Band on Sunday


I love to see the bands that play on the zocalo on Sundays. When I list off the things that draw m back to Oaxaca annually (or more frequently), the music is usually in the top five after the warm people, the delicious food, and the everyday opportunities for harrowing adventures (especially by bus).

When I could not find the band this afternoon, I was disappointed and decided to head home to wrestle with my grouchy computer.  I heard music along the way and thought it was another fiesta de 15 anos or Guelaguetza exhibition, but, no, it was the Sunday band.  The band and the, to start, scant crowd were huddled under a much smaller tree (than the usual laurel on the zocalo) just off the plaza outside of Santo Domingo Church.

The band was the Banda de Musica de Otatitlan de Morelos, and the members were youths, from age twelve on up.

They played a range of pieces that embodied their motto of: “cooperacion, esfuerzo, y creatividad” (cooperation, effort, and creativity) as they created energy out of a normally lethargic Sunday afternoon.  Spectators could feel the energy building as the performance progressed and especially, near the end, as  they encouraged all of us to sing along to a traditional song.

And, they played two encore pieces because of the demands of the dancing crowd.  One of their pieces is called “Que Alegria” (What Joy), and this is the perfect way to describe the whole performance.

band4 band3 band2 band S

Picture This


You have to picture this in your mind because, for several reasons, I have no photos.

The other night, my teacher colleagues headed back to Oaxaca in a taxi, and I, as usual, stayed behind to take in the quiet of Tlacochahuaya and to take a bus home. I got a moto taxi to the highway crossing.

Once I hopped out of the moto, a man had all sorts of questions for me: where was I going, what was I doing, etc. Upon discovering that I needed to get back to Oaxaca, he told me I could not walk on the hot asphalt they were pouring. I knew they were pouring it. For one, I could see it. And, the bus we’d come in on had been stopped by the process. I told him I was fine, that I’d walk across the pedestrian bridge. He wanted to show me the way, but I insisted it was right there and I had crossed before.

As I sat on the other side of the highway watching the roadwork and traffic and other commuters coming and going, I watched this same “helpful” man trying to assist a local woman to get a taxi in the narrow spot where she could stand. It would be silly for a cab to stop there with the road so narrowed because of the work and the high speeds and the fact that she could have walked not even an eighth of a mile more and we all would have been safer, but she didn’t.

As I was watching the Danger Channel, a van deposited two ladies and seven boxes of produce and other goods in front of the bus stop. As they arrived it started to rain. I was helping them lug the boxes under the bus shelter before the pouring really began, and I noticed the traffic had stopped in both directions. There was a sort of quiet (except for the weather).

Then, the water truck came rolling by to cool the tar. We couldn’t hear her scream, but we could see the foolish woman gesticulating wildly as the water truck seemed to aim for her.

Unabashedly, I laughed out loud. The other two ladies looked at me, looked back at the steaming new pavement and the woman stomping down the road, and decided to laugh with me.



This is not the clown. But a clown in town here caught me passing alone by the Zocalo and drew me into his show. At first, I tried to ignore him, but there was an audience of at least 100 people looking on, and he started to make fun of me, saying I did not know Spanish (it reminded me of a poetry reading I did recently).

I responded politely, told him where I am from, what I like about Oaxaca, etc. Nearing the end of my patience (and the crowd’s), he asked my name. I gave him some more material as I said, “Gracias, no.” I mean, I don’t want a whole crowd of people calling after me in the street.

Of course, people could approach me with my new name: “Gracias, no.” However, it has been a week and no one has.

As I walked off (the stage), the clown synthesizer whistled in my direction, so the people I was walking toward could also enjoy the show of me turning red.

I’ve met people who intensely dislike clowns. They are pretty feisty — and omnipresent — here.