There are many Mexican folkloric dances, each with their own style of dress. It appears that the Danza de Veracruz is the favourite in the small town of El Triunfo, a short distance from Todos Santos. Or perhaps their dance troupe only has the white lacy dresses that is traditional for this dance. Whatever the reason, it is a beautiful performance to watch. I love white lace – doesn’t everyone? But I had never attempted to paint it as we all know that white reflects many other colours, especially where shear lace is present. Lots of layers of colour with both palette knife and brush hopefully captures the abundance of lace and the movement of the dress. What caught my eye with this couple is how her partner appears to stand in awe of her beauty.
I was at an art retreat when we finally received news of the damage to our home and property in our lovely town of Todos Santos in southern Baja. A week before, Hurricane Odile, clocking in winds up to 200 mph, struck just before midnight raping and pillaging southern Baja for what seemed like an eternity. People woke to a whole new landscape, mostly devoid of the beautiful tall tropical trees and vegetation. I also received news that the military had been sent in to bring much needed supplies and help the locals start cleaning up the huge mess left behind. The week waiting to hear some news brought overwhelming worry and sleeplessness and I was struggling to bring inspiration to the painting I had brought to work on. Instead what came out of me was my first abstract painting and when I stepped back to make sense of it, I saw the birds. When the birds come back, you know the heart and soul of the place is coming back, bringing with them a renewed light and energy to every morning. I just knew everything was going to be okay.
The images of Hurricane Odile approaching southern Baja will forever be etched in my memory. It resembled a doomsday movie as those huge black clouds devoured the light and the land. And then there was total darkness and the monster winds roared, dumping endless rain and spitting out debris as it made it’s way north. A long torturous night turned into morning and an emotional awakening to what truly is important in life. The people survived, material possessions often did not. In this painting, I see the monster receding and the unbroken spirit of a survivor.
Little girls with braids and red ribbons. Oh to have a mother with enough patience to weave a beautiful ribbon through her child’s hair. I loved her little downturned mouth and big eyes as she sized up the crowd. I’m not sure she understood that she was there to be blessed on this special day but with all the other beautifully dressed children and activities to keep them busy, a festive wonderment was definitely in the air.
Most of the boys dressed like Juan Diego, the peasant who first saw the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. He wore the typical loose pants and a tunic in a bleached muslin. This young boy also wore bleached cotton pants & tunic but with this beautifully coloured vest on top. Surprise, surprise – I was attracted to the colour. His straw hat was decorated with some crepe paper and a photo of the Virgin. Who could resist painting those big dark eyes. They do seem to pull people into the painting.
My second painting in this series is probably the last photo I took at the Church of the Guadalupe in Oaxaca City during the blessing of the children. This little girl had caught my eye with her colourful outfit, long necklaces and a basket that she had probably decorated herself. She was just a whirlwind of activity and I had given up trying to get a decent photo of her. Then, just as we were leaving, she parked herself on this low wall in the courtyard, retrieved a bright toy from her basket and looked up. Perfect.
This past March we did a little hop over to Mexico City with friends of ours from Todos Santos. What an amazing, vibrant city. It was full of beautiful art, endless energy, intense flavors and smells (yes there is pollution), and big city sights and sounds. Vic & I ventured out early one morning to do a little street shopping before visiting the National Palace. You can buy almost anything you want off the sidewalks and for the lowest prices I have seen. The food stands were busy getting ready for their mid-morning rush. This young man was grilling beautiful red and green tomatoes for his fresh salsa verde and salsa roja. We did not eat any street food. We thought we were brave enough venturing out off the tourist track. Maybe next time. Poco a poco.