Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Pepe and Me

 Alejandro's sister took this picture of me with Pepe, one of the family's two dogs.

They keep saying that I should get a dog for the apartment, but I say, "No, thank you.  When I want some canine companionship, all I have to do I come to the family's house."

Paraphrasing Picasso

The art exhibit which I visited at the "Colegio San Ildefonso" last week was entitled "Paraphrasing Picasso".  The show displays the continuing legacy of the Spanish artist with the works of 52 contemporary artists that draw their inspiration from Picasso.

"Blue Nude"
by Tomás Gómez Robledo

by René Freire

"Deconstructing Picasso"
by Octavio Moctzuma

"Me at the Mirror After Picasso"
by Claudia Doring Baez

"Woman with a Straw Hat and Two Dogs"
by Javier Guadarrama

Some of the paintings were based on specific Picasso works that I recognized.

This painting by Diego Rodarte is based on an early (pre-cubist) self portrait of Picasso.  The title, "Rose on Blue" is a reference to Picasso's "Blue Period" and "Rose Period".

by Brian Nissen

This painting is inspired by the large Picasso sculpture in Chicago.

"Guitar, Marimba and Chirimía"
by Tinku

I recognized this one as being based on Picasso's "The Three Musicians".
(A "chirimía" is an oboe-like instrument used by indigenous tribes in Mexico.)

Picasso's painting "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" was the controversial work which led into the artist's cubist period.  It portrays five prostitutes in a brothel.

Here we have "The Little Judges of Avignon" by Rafael Barajas.

Arguably Picasso's most famous work is "Guérnica" which portrays the bombing of a town in northern Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

In "Guérnica - Ciudad Juárez" by Gustavo Monroy, the tragedy of Guénica is compared to the murder-plagued Mexican border town.

The exhibit runs through June 30th.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

The Cradle of Muralism


Last week I went to the Historic Center to see an art exhibit at the former "Colegio de San Ildefonso".  The building is considered a gem of Mexican 18th century baroque architecture.

In 1583 the Jesuits, leaders in educational institutions in colonial Mexico, established a school on this site dedicated to the medieval archbishop of Toledo, Ildefonsus.  Due to increasing enrollment, it was necessary to build a larger school.  In 1747 the present structure was inaugurated.  After the expulsion of the Jesuits from Spanish territories in 1767, the building had various functions, including a military barracks.  In 1867 the National Preparatory School was established here.  It was to become one of the most prestigious schools in the nation for university-bound students.  Today, the building, which is owned by the National University of Mexico, is a cultural center and a museum for art exhibitions.
After the Mexican Revolution, José Vasconcelos, the Secretary of Public Education, had the idea of painting the walls of public buildings with murals extolling the virtues of the Revolution.  It was basically art as propaganda, but it resulted in some of the great works of the 20th century.  The idea was first put into practice at San Ildefonso.  In 1922 Diego Rivera was commissioned to paint his first mural in the school's auditorium.  Other artists were hired to paint more murals, including José Clemente Orozco who, between 1922 and 1926 painted numerous works on the walls of the main patio and the stairwell.  For this reason, San Ildefonso is often called the "Cradle of Mexican Muralism".

I have been to San Ildefonso several times.  Even though I was there to see a special art exhibit, I took some time to look at the murals again, especially the ones by Orozco.  Although Orozco is perhaps not as well known outside of Mexico as Diego Rivera, he is considered one of the "Big Three" of Mexican muralism (along with Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros).

I have posted photos of the murals on this blog before, but that was years ago.  So, here is another look at some of Orozco's work...

The murals are currently undergoing restoration work.

"The Destruction of the Old Order"

The artist used scathing satire to portray the society of pre-Revolutionary Mexico.

"Law and Justice"

"The Aristocracy"


"The Family"

"The Workers"

"The Farewell"


Two of Orozco's most famous frescos are located in the stairwell.

"Cortés and Malinche"
Orozco used the Spanish conqueror and his native mistress to symbolize the birth of the Mexican people as a mixture of indigenous and European blood.

"The Franciscan"

In my next post, I will write about the art exhibit that was the reason for my visit to San Ildefonso.

Monday, June 10, 2024


The Spanish artist and master of surrealism, Salvador Dalí, reportedly once commented that Mexico City was the most surreal place he had ever visited.

Yesterday, Alejandro and I were stalled in Mexico City traffic when I snapped this photo from the window of the car.  We were by the Basilica of Guadalupe, the holiest Catholic shrine in the Americas.  Across the street there was a sex shop located next to an office of "Radio María", a Catholic radio network.

Rainy Days

Here in Mexico City, we are not singing "Rain, rain go away."  We are happy every time it rains and hope that it portends the end of the drought.  

On Saturday, Alejandro and I were on the Metrobus traveling from downtown back to the apartment when it began to rain heavily.  The bad part was that all the windows were closed on the crowded bus to keep the rain from coming in, and it was hot and humid.  I finally opened mine to let in some fresh air.  I didn't care if some raindrops hit me.  By the time we reached our stop about twenty minutes later the rain was just a sprinkle, and we didn't even bother to open the umbrellas which we had with us.  

Yesterday, at the family house, we were having dinner around 4 PM.  After a sunny morning, the clouds had rolled in.  The forecast said that there was a 40% chance of rain around 7.  However, we heard it begin to sprinkle, and Alejandro rushed out to bring in the laundry that was hanging on the line.  The rain continued and grew steadier, and it was still raining lightly when we went to bed around 10.  This morning there are still puddles in the street, and the webcam showed snow on top of the volcano "Popo".  Hopefully it rained where the reservoirs that supply the city's water are located.

Unfortunately, the long-term forecast does not call for any rain this week.  However, they have been wrong before.  Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain!

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Future Travel

(image taken from the internet).

This September I am planning to travel to Europe.  Earlier this year my cousin Werner told me that he was having a big party at the family home in Switzerland to celebrate his 70th birthday.  And I was invited.  I now have the date of the party, so I have started to plan an itinerary.  

I have been invited to spend several nights before and after the party with cousins.  One of my cousins, Brigitta, has already bought tickets for us to have unlimited train travel for a day.  Years ago, on one of my previous visits to Switzerland we did the same thing.  Switzerland is, of course, a small country, and it was amazing how much were we able to see in just one day, going by train from town to town.

So, if I am going to Switzerland, why is there a photo of a Lufthansa jet at the top of this post?  Mexico City has direct service to Frankfurt, Germany, on Lufthansa.  I figured that it would be much easier to fly directly to Europe from Mexico, and since Lufthansa is in the same alliance with United Airlines, I will still get frequent flyer miles.  

As long as I am going to Germany, I figured that I could take a few days to do some sightseeing there before heading on to Switzerland.  I know that Frankfurt is a big, commercial city, but there are some sights and museums there that sound interesting.  And I could do some day excursions from Frankfurt such as Heidelburg.  

I will then take a train to Zurich.  (My cousin Brigitta lives in a town just outside of Zurich.)  After spending time with my Swiss family and attending the birthday bash, I am considering going to Basel, Switzerland, which is located on the Rhine River where the borders of Switzerland, Germany and France come together.  I'll do some sightseeing there, as well as possibly taking a day's excursion into the Alsace Lorraine region of France.  From Basel there is train service to Frankfurt, where I will take my flight home to Mexico.

I think I have everything planned, but I still have to make the reservations. It should be an exciting trip! 

Saturday, June 8, 2024

More Art on the Street

Here are some photos of street art that I took while wandering around various parts of the city.

From the Condesa neighborhood...

In Santa María la Ribera...

In San Pedro de los Pinos, just a short walk from the apartment, Alejandro and I discovered this really cool shop that sell organic products.  They are painting the entire facade (the side to the left is not finished yet) with a mural which features the flora and fauna of Mexico.

(I didn't have my camera with me, so these two were taken with Alejandro's cell phone.)

These were on the exterior wall of a school in Roma Norte...

Sometimes the street art is on wheels, as seen on this moving truck with a rather bizarre and risqué painting.

Another mural in Roma Norte.  By its style it looks as if it might be by the same artist that did two of the paintings above.

Graffiti is a blight, but it is especially distressing when some idiot barbarian vandalizes someone's work of art.  The artist is trying to remove the graffiti from his mural.