Friday, September 21, 2012
commies, nudes, and live tunes
Pátzcuaro is deep in celebration.
Actually, two celebrations.
The first is the 478th anniversary of Pátzcuaro’s founding. 478 is not one of those milestone numbers, but the city is celebrating as if it were its 500th.
The other celebration is the 70th anniversary of Juan' O’Gorman’s completion of his mural of Pátzcuaro’s history. I have paid a visit to the library on whose wall it is painted on each of my trips here. (mural, mural on the wall; some of my favorite things) And this visit was no exception.
I am not very fond of political art. Most artists tend to sublimate their artistic side when they start preaching their political viewpoints.
O’Gorman is guilty of that, if less so than most Mexican muralists. But he had an impish side that allowed individualism to creep into his art. Something that got him in trouble with the Mexican Communist Party.
Take this scene of one of my favorite Europeans involved in the conquest: Don Vasco. The Don loved Sir Thomas More’s famous novel. And O’Gorman plays a little joke by floating the title “Utopia” over the happy Loony Tunes scene.
Of course, we all know “Utopia” is Latin for “nowhere.” O’Gorman got More’s little joke. Even if Don Vasco did not.
But I had other old friends to visit on Thursday. My next stop was the mask exhibit from various Mexico states at the cultural center.
I made my walk-through, and then noticed a sculpture exhibit in one of the small rooms. All of the pieces were by the same artist. Orlando Blas.
I had never heard of him. But I really like his work. Especially, this piece.
It is representative of his style. Most of the sculptures displayed were wood. Blas fuses the male and human forms into positions that could only be described as balletic.
The use of wood is a good medium choice. The combination of the wood’s texture and Blas’s polishing makes the pieces absolutely supple -- to the point of being tactile. It is tempting to simply reach out and caress the work.
I would happily purchase the piece. If I could fit it into my Escape -- and then into my duplex in Melaque.
Oh, yes. There is one other impediment. As you can see, Blas’s sculpture is a serious piece of art. And it comes with a serious price tag.
Yup. $100,000 (Mx). For you outlanders, that is about $7,800 (US). A little bit more than is in my art budget for the week.
Because it was the end of the day, I headed off to the nightcap for the city’s celebration. Grupo Las Verseros. Billed as Mexican folkloric music.
The venue was draw enough for me. The Teatro Emperador Caltzontzin. A former movie palace that has found new life as a community theater.
And it looks as a theater should look. Not like today's cineplex seating that could be mistaken for bleachers in a high school gymnasium.
But what I like best is the theater’s eccentric mixture of artistic styles. All the way from its art nouveau chandelier --
To its art deco ceiling and its modern and stylized native wall pieces.
I need to disclose a small bias. I am not a fan of anything that has the adjective “folkloric” in front of it.
“Folkloric” usually means music and dance I have seen multiple times before. It is a bit like hearing “Guantanamera” one too many times.
But I may need to revise my prejudice. Grupo Las Verseros was fantastic.
The trio proved to be very talented. Good voices. Marvelous instrument technique. All pushed through an entirely inadequate amplification system -- something I have come to accept in Mexico.
Their versatility was amazing. Various guitars of all sizes, flute, Peruvian pipes, recorder, accordion -- and a kazoo.
That combination is a good clue that they did not stick to traditional Mexican music. Much to the disgust of the four elderly Mexican woman sitting in front of me who were offended at the inclusion of some South American tunes and talked through most of the performance. Refusing even to applaud.
The trio did play some traditional Mexican pieces from various states. But the core of their concert was contemporary ballads, a couple of novelty tunes, and a bit of jazz with a Mexican beat.
A delightful evening of music.
And a delightful day. I consorted with Communists, nude hermaphrodites, and smugglers of Colombian music.
It would be a hard day to top.