Body Painting at Baupres

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Fatima models Adrian’s art

First, let me tell you that my photos (Thru Di’s Eyes) are now on exhibit at both Baupres Gallery and Galería Libertad #312. Prints of digital photographs are available on acrylic, trovisel, paper mounted on foam core and matted, or in postcard format. I trust you’ll check them out. I am so very excited! Below are a few photos of the opening during ArtWalk last night. Click on any photo to enlarge or view a slideshow.

You may remember that I’ve studied photography with Salvador Herrera (1, 2). He’s a consummate professional and a terrific instructor. He teaches and exhibits at the gorgeously renovated historic building that houses Baupres Gallery, owned by the incredibly talented artist, Dory Perdomo.

Last night for ArtWalk, two of Salvador’s friends from Mexico City, Alexander ojodelince (ranked third nationally) and Adrián Art (national champion), who are in Mazatlán for a national body painting competition that takes place today and tomorrow at the Hotel Playa, demonstrated their art for us as part of Art Walk.

Have you ever watched body painters at work? It’s amazing! These two gentleman are true artists in every sense of the term! They have to paint on a three-dimensional, moving surface, attend to the human moods and needs of the “canvas,” and paint so the finished product looks good in both normal and black light.

Last night at Baupres, those attending ArtWalk were able to watch the artists and their models in action. The artists had actually started painting at 11 am, but when we got there about 4:30 they still had a couple hours to go. One of the models, Fatima, is a dancer, and the other, Kiana, is a model. Once they were finished, the models demonstrated the finished product to us, and the artists fielded questions. I so admired the models’ patience! I could never sit for eight hours while someone painted on me, and then another hour or more while other people photographed the result! Fatima, the one I talked to the most, seemed thrilled with the whole process. She is such a delight. She joked about not washing it off and walking around Mazatlán like that to see how people reacted. I wish she would!

After the presentation, the two models proceeded upstairs, where by now it was dark, and we could light up the gorgeous body painting with black lights and take photographs. Salvador placed all the lights, so those of us with cameras were incredibly blessed. Even with a cell phone, the models and artistry were so well lit that the photos turned out incredibly well! Thank you, Salvador! What do you think of the results?

This is the second time Baupres has hosted body painting. They’ve also conducted classes in both body painting and photographic lighting. Be sure to get on their mailing list (via their Facebook page) so you don’t miss future such events. And most definitely visit the upstairs photo gallery there and at 312 Libertad! Thanks!

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Are We Blessed or What?

12650991_10208208775554212_2260076847104623997_nWhat an honor to go to the Temporada Gordon Campbell concert today with my friend Jessica, who is a total groupie of Maestro Cambell’s. She was beyond thrilled when I introduced them, she couldn’t believe she actually got to have a conversation with him, and then—the cherry on top of everything—she got to get a picture with the Maestro! It is such a complete pleasure when we are able to bring joy to our friends’ lives. Especially, perhaps, when it’s something simple, as we all know that the Maestro is very down-to-earth, approachable, and so very passionate and committed to his audience.

Last season we published a series called “Behind the Chamber,” in which we conducted interviews with the Maestro and his wife, Guianeya Román. I was so very happy to have Gordon tell me that Daniela Liebman, the then-12-year old piano sensation, had been able to obtain first-class representation in part due to the article we wrote about her. Love it when good things go around and come around!

This season’s line up is also magnificent. I don’t know where Gordon gets his incredible creativity from, but the ideas just seem to flow from him. The season is already half over, so be sure to get your tickets now for the remainder of the schedule. The season resumes after Carnavál, on Valentine’s Day, February 14th.

The “Gordon Campbell Season” is a series of six concerts on Sundays at noon. As the program always takes place during Carnavál, there is one concert that is held in Casa Haas instead of in the Angela Peralta theater. Due to the smaller size of the venue, two showings are scheduled that week, at noon and again at five.

Today was that concert, and it was completely sold out, standing room only. And my oh my was the music good! Performers were Cuarteto Ventura from Culiacán, and to say they played Mexican boleros is a huge understatement. Their classical guitars (including a small one called requinto), congas and incredible harmonies resurrected the original arrangements of music from the Golden Age of Mexican cinema—that era of bad movies and wonderful songs. During the set they also played one Cuban son, and, after the standing ovation, they played a ranchero as an encore. Other than that, the event dripped romanticism as you’ve rarely heard it. We so very much enjoyed ourselves! I kept both the official program list of the songs they intended to play, and the list of the songs they actually played, and I’m planning to put together an online playlist of this gems of Mexican romantic music.

Click on any photo below to view it larger or see a slideshow. My apologies, but I only took my cell phone this time. People recently get very cranky when I take a camera to an event; a bit of NOB mentality impinging itself in our paradise…

Last week’s concert was also incredibly cool. Tiempos Pasados, an antique music ensemble from Guanajuato, performed using instruments that were breathtakingly gorgeous works of art mostly handmade by the group’s Artistic Director, Armando Ávila, who played a different instrument for nearly every song the group played. He is an incredibly talented gentleman—a physicist, instrument maker and musician! Lord knows what else he does in his spare time.

The last three events of this season look to be outstanding as usual. I love how Gordon speaks in both Spanish and English, educating us to the things we might miss without his narration. His rapport with the musicians, and the ear he has for bringing to Mazatlán unique events, are a true gift to our city. Be sure to get tickets (at any Angela Peralta outlet—theater or Rico’s Café) and take advantage!

 

Miss Universe Carnavál Mazatlán

5442_1701570033394960_4368600050915917126_nIf you support diversity, particularly LGBT causes; if you would feel good about helping a talented eight-year old girl who is very sick; or if you’d just enjoy a terrific old-fashioned drag queen show and contest, you are in for a treat! It’s part of what Carnavál is all about!

Miss Universo Carnavál Mazatlán will be held tomorrow night, Tuesday, February 2nd, starting shortly after 8:30 pm. The pageant will take place at Castillo de LuLu, Aquiles Serdán 60 (the same street Immigration is on, the salón is just farther down the street, off Carnavál).

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I attended this event last year, and we had a whole lot of fun! The people are wonderful, and it’s for a great cause. A lady will sell sodas at the venue, but the good news is that the event is BYOB: bring any drink you’d like and enjoy!

The group Belleza con Causa/Beauty with a Purpose does charity work and teaches acceptance, tolerance and diversity. Of course I LOVE what they do! They conduct this annual event and dedicate the proceeds to charity. In 2016 the money will go to help eight-year old Vidacsi, who is very ill and who, I am told, will sing at the event. According to Susie Morgan, “They have the biggest hearts of anyone I know. PLEASE come and show your love and support!”

I am honored and excited to have been asked to be a judge tomorrow night. The event usually includes a couple of performances, and the pageant itself includes the queen aspirants modeling both cocktail and evening dresses, and answering a question. Three queens will be crowned: Miss Universo, Señorita, and Rostro Carnavál/Face of Carnaval. Miss Universo Carnaval Mazatlan 2015, Fany Hernandez, and Miss Barrios Mazatlán 2015, Hanya Montiel, will be present.

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Tickets cost 50 pesos and are available at the door. I hope to see you there! Please know that Belleza con Causa is also available for parties and events; yet another option in our very talented city.

Go Venados! Mexican Champions!

12592409_1072415836134049_2505605241908316075_nBy now everyone knows that our hometown baseball team, the Venados, won the championship series against Mexicali and will be representing Mexico in the Caribbean League World Series in the Dominican Republic February 1 – 7. CONGRATULATIONS! We very much enjoyed the cheering every time the team won a home game, and the fireworks were spectacular.

Can you believe they’re doing the series during Carnavál? What’s up with THAT?

Like the great hometown team they are, the new champions held a parade (after a Mass in the cathedral) around downtown and then down the malecón, ending at the Saenz Venados baseball player statue right in front of our house. It was awesome to see! The bus and two flatbeds full of players, coaches, and their families stopped ocean-side while heading north, gave out free shirts and caps, and spent well over an hour signing autographs and taking pictures with everyone. It cracked me up to see how everyone wanted to hand their baby up to players on the truck to take a photo. Do they think the baby has any clue who the guy is? One thing that puzzled me, however: where was the trophy??? I would have thought they’d be holding it up high and proudly!

The players and the coaches all looked so happy! I loved that the Carnavál lights were up and lit, adding to the festivities. Here are a few pics (you know I can never take just a few). Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

There had to be about 1500 people gathered in front of Olas Altas Inn, and I can only imagine how many hundreds more had lined the parade route and attended Mass. Patas Saladas do love their team! Especially when they win ;) There were a few bands, one of which got down off the flatbed to set up on the malecón, and all of whom added to the merriment. Vennie was there, eager to take photos with the kids, engaging in his normal antics. Guys were selling flags and banners, the Pacífico girls strutted their stuff, and there was a killer sunset. All in all, not a bad way to spend an hour on a Monday afternoon!

Once the parade stopped so the team could greet the fans, the fireworks guys who lead parades here walked down to the beach, and from there they lit a good 15-20 minutes worth of fireworks. You know how they hold the bottle rockets in their hand, much braver or more foolhardy than what I think is safe? I was able to get some very cool shots of the fireworks blasting up from the beach, with our islands and the setting sun in the background. I hope you enjoy them.

As usual, we had a stunning sunset that served as a backdrop to this wonderful event. We are so blessed to live here. With the ships, ferry, tour boats and private boats out in the bay, it was a glorious sight.

I should also mention that it’s not the existing Venados team that plays in the Serie del Caribe. They assemble a sort of All Star team, with some of our players and other star players in the league. I loved that the sign in the front of the bus said, “Venados de México”!

Muchas felicidades, Venados!!! Thank you for loving us back! And éxito in the DR!!!

Most Important Archeological Site in Northwestern Mexico: Chametla

©40.DSC_0263It always amazes me how we can have hugely rich archeological history very close by that goes unsung and unvalued, while we all dream about seeing the more famous sites. You know what they say about prophets in their own land, and I guess that’s true about places as well; we don’t value those nearby.

I’ve told you before that archeological evidence indicates that Mexcaltitán, just three hours south of Mazatlán, was probably the original Tenochtitlán—that Mezcaltitán was the legendary Aztlán, where the Aztecs (Mexica) lived before they moved to the Valley of Mexico. It’s so very close, our own gorgeous little Venice, yet we hardly hear about it.

I’ve also heard many people say that here in Sinaloa historically there were no native peoples; that we don’t have indigenous crafts or artwork because this area was only populated after the discovery of minerals in the mountains and the influx of Europeans. Hogwash! I’ve written before about the Mayo-Yoremes in the northern part of our state. Down here in the south, Totorames lived on the coast. They spread over quite a wide territory, as most of southern Sinaloa was connected by estuary; using a canoe they could easily get from one place to another. The Totorames often fought with the cannibalistic Acaxes and Xiximes who lived up in the Sierra Madres.

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Joaquin Hernández

This week I learned from our friend, Joaquin Hernández, that Chametla—just 90 minutes from Mazatlán in the municipio of El Rosario—is the most important archeological site in all of northwestern Mexico! In Chametla are at least two pyramids built in pre-Hispanic times by the Totorames. Both were sacred sites, with platforms on top for sacrifices. Hernán Cortés himself visited Chametla, in 1535, before traveling over to La Paz; there are written documents and paintings that record this fact. Legend has it that he sat in the Cueva del Diablo looking out over the entire valley.

Near Chametla were 22 pre-Hispanic towns. What attracted so many Totorames to Chametla? The area is home to seven hills, which contain many caves. The Rio Baluarte runs through it; it’s very close to the Pacific Ocean; it’s fertile land; there’s jungle as well; and it’s right in the middle of the wonderful estuary system where historically mangroves and shrimp have thrived. In ancient times, there were three regions in southern Sinaloa: Sinaloa, Culiacán, and Chametla. Chametla comprised the territory from Escuinapa in the south to Piaxtla in the north. Only later was Mazatlán founded (on the present site of Villa Unión).

So, where are these pyramids? The first is the setting of the church in Chametla, at the foot of Cerro de San Pedro. I took some photos, but the pyramid is much easier to see live and in person. The church is built at the top, on the platform of the pyramid, while the lower part of the pyramid goes way beyond the church and down the hill. You can see that it’s man-made.

In 1935, when they were renovating the church, they found a secret passageway behind the altar that led to an underground cave. There they found “pagan” icons and relics, so the church quickly sealed it all back up. There was a second entrance to the cave just outside the church, at the entrance to where the original church was located. That cave entrance is now covered with a huge boulder. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Cool, huh? Not as visually stunning as a Chichen-Itza, by any means, as this pyramid has been built on and tweaked over and over throughout the millennia; it’s located right in the center of town. But, you can most definitely see its vestiges. The conquista of course was not just about conquering territory or even people; the conquistadores wanted to conquer the entire culture. So many churches are built on sacred sites of the indigenous peoples, as in Chametla.

And where is the second pyramid? It’s a 400-meter pyramid on which the local cemetery is built, also clearly visible. Local people say that when graves are dug, they almost always dig up pottery and other relics from the Totorame. The best specimens of these can be found in the small museum that is right next door to the church.

 

If you go to Chametla, I’d urge you to hike the 365 steps up El Cerro de la Cueva del Diablo. At the top is a man-made cave, obviously another sacred site, with a view of the entire river valley, estuary, ocean… The view is spectacular. It is in the cave that you’ll see an indentation that looks like two butt cheeks, and legend says that’s where Cortés sat. While he wasn’t in Chametla long enough to carve a seat, he may have enjoyed the gorgeous view, with the opening of the cave mirroring the curve of the hill it faces. On many of the hills in the area you’ll find platforms, indicating they were sacred sites; Loma de Ramírez has a 100 meter x 100 meter platform. The area is splendid for hiking, with a diversity of flora and fauna as well as elevation and lots of water.

Joaquin is quite the historian. He has spent much time researching, talking to locals, hiking around; traveling with him and his daughter was a joy. One final tidbit he told us? One of the seven hills in Chametla is called Cerro de las Cabras. However, no one has ever heard of there being goats on that hill. Joaquin found an old, old manuscript that referred to a hill in Chametla as Tetas de Cabras, or “Goat Tits.” His guess is that the vulgar-sounding part of the name was dropped or lost, so that only the goat part remains in modern times.

Joaquin speaks excellent English, as he lived and studied in San Francisco for several years. He frequently conducts presentations in both Spanish and English, so be sure to catch one if you are interested in history, literature… any of the many themes that spark the curiosity of this Renaissance man.

We happened to visit Chametla during the festival Chameitlán, celebrating 485 years since the founding of the town. I captured a photo of the cake and a few of the kids breaking the piñata. That’s Hernán Cortés on the piñata, the children told me—not at all like I pictured him to look!

After Mass, the cake and the piñata, there was a parade through town. We didn’t stay for it, but the young men in the Nautica band played, and the kids seemed to dress up as Indians. I also include a few other photos of the town.

If you enjoy hiking, history, archeology, kayaking, or if you’d just like to visit a small town and the estuary where the shrimpers still cast their atarrayas or hand nets, Chametla is a beautiful place to visit!