Travel through Outer Space on a Day Trip from Mazatlán

Culiacán, in general, is not my favorite getaway from Mazatlán. I’ve gone there for concerts, art exhibits, CostCo and an occasional weekend away. I do very much enjoy a long walk along Parque Las Riberas, 12 km along the rivers, especially in the evening when the bridges are lit up (cycling, pedal boats and kayaks are also popular). I love spending time in botanic gardens, and Culiacan’s is beautiful, including plants as well as modern architecture and art: well worth a visit and perhaps a picnic on the grounds. Other people gravitate to Jardines del Humaya, the world-famous narco cemetery with its lavish mausoleums (If you want to visit, I recommend you go with a local in the morning). Thus, I’ve always felt that if I needed to go to Culiacán for some reason or another, there are things to do and see, but not much to pull me there eagerly.

That opinion changed radically earlier this week when I accompanied a couple of friends there for the day. What was it that delighted my soul? The newly refurbished Sinaloa Science Center Museum, MATERIA. I would describe it as a hybrid of a science and an art museum, one in which all the interactive exhibits work and are truly astounding! Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The building itself is a gorgeous piece of architecture, at least on the inside, with angular shapes and the light streaming in through windows on all sides. The main attraction is Sideral, a huge meteorite that fell in a small nearby pueblo in the early 1800s. The museum has the large meteorite front and center in the main gallery. Over it is a gorgeous moveable wooden pendulum that moves several times a day (we attended at 3:30 pm) and generates a song, resonating to the magnetic frequencies of the minerals in the meteorite and of the people nearby. It is magical and completely mesmerizing! HIGHLY recommended!

In several galleries surrounding Sideral are art installations that, we were told, change every six months. I very much enjoyed what was there now, with two standing out for me: an exhibition of hanging glass called “meteor shower,” and a hammock holding five or six irregularly shaped geometric pieces; the shadows of the light on the floor were hexagons for each, thus showing us the power of perspective.

Heading upstairs was another standout exhibition called “Blossoms,” a set of white ceramic-looking kinetic sculptures designed by a Stanford mathematician. They are beautiful, mostly natural forms. When you push the button, they start spinning and the human eye tells us they move in entrancing ways.

We had only been in the museum maybe thirty minutes, and I was enthralled. The docents were all young but incredibly knowledgeable; some of the most outstanding I’ve encountered in Latin America. Kudos! One of them invited us to enter the IMAX-like theater to watch the show at 4:00 pm: Cubo Negro 8K. 8K is an immersive projection of images unlike any I’ve experienced before, the only one of its kind on our continent, I was told. Again, HIGHLY recommended. This was actually my favorite part of what I saw at the museum. We experienced going into space, via projections on the large screen and the floor. We felt that we spent some time on the Space Station, and then travelled through several nebulae. Definitely not to be missed.

There was significantly more to see at MATERIA, but we needed to leave Culiacán to make it home before it got too dark. If you go, I’d recommend you plan to also spend some time in the Botanic Garden as it’s right next door. While I did not experience the James Turrell light exhibit, “Encounter,” the only one of its kind in Latin America, I have attended two other exhibits of his and can wholeheartedly recommend them. There is one show at dawn and another at dusk, Thursdays through Sundays, and you need reservations. The show lasts one hour and costs 150 pesos.

Where to Stay
Since Encounter is at dusk or dawn, it makes sense to spend the night. Culiacán offers hotels at all price ranges. One conveniently located, very nice hotel that I can recommend is the Wyndham Executive. It is very near the MASIN: the Sinaloa Art Museum and it’s GAALS (Galería Antonio López Sáenz). The MASIN is a gorgeous early 1800s building with an arched central courtyard. Permanent galleries are downstairs and temporary ones up top. GAALS usually has a main professional art exhibit downstairs, and a series of student or young professional exhibits upstairs. I thoroughly enjoyed both. While the websites say these museums are open Tuesday-Sunday, I believe that during the pandemic they are only open Thursday through Sunday. We got in, but we had special permission and a private tour.

Around the corner from the art museums is a darling little coffee shop well worth your visit—TantoGusto. They have a diverse collection of brewing devices from around the world, are very welcoming, and serve sandwiches and pastries.

If you do spend the night, don’t miss out on a visit to Mirador La Lomita, the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, with its panoramic view of the city. Day and night the view is very good. The cathedral is also worth a visit, as is Tomateros stadium. I have never visited the MIA Museum, but it is the world’s only museum dedicated to addictions.

Where to Eat
Restaurant-wise, I enjoy Cayenna Cocina del Mundo from the Panama group, Brasa y Masa for breakfast (or any time of day), Presidio Cocina de México, and if you are a meat lover, do not miss eating at local favorite, Palomar del Rio.

Enjoy your flight through space! Please let me know how it goes! I’m curious if they rotate the movies or change them out regularly.

The Duality of the Cosmos: Water and its Landscapes

Interview of Guadalupe Aguilar by Ernestina Yépiz, translation by Dianne Hofner Saphiere

This article first appeared in Spanish in the online magazine Fogones: La poética del paladarI share this translation here because Guadalupe is a terrific local artist whose work I much admire. I encourage VidaMaz readers to get to know her work. Guadalupe also makes and sells kombucha here in town.

The installation in Culiacán Photos by the artist

The work of Guadalupe Aguilar, together with and in each of the creations that compose it—which in each one is complete also—establish a dialogue, almost an intimate conversation, with the landscape, poetry, writing, the creative process and creation itself. In this context her artistic vision is to permit yourself to be touched by the subtle, experiment the sublime and get a hold of the ungraspable: that which is so fleeting that we can only feel it and make it our own at the instant or sum of moments of the aesthetic experience.

Guadalupe Aguilar holds a PhD in Fine Arts from the Polytechnic University of Valencia and a Master’s in Art History from the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of UNAM. Her creative production has been exhibited nationally and internationally. In her work as a contemporary artist she explore the relationship between art and nature; she does the same with philosophy and poetry. In her work she uses forms of expression and manifestation including installations, video, weaving, writing, drawing and sculpture.

Several exhibitions stand out in her artistic career: Über das gluck or The way of the possible, at the Cultural Institute of Mexico in Austria in 2005; The water in a thread in the Kunsthalle Krems, Austria in 2006; Words in flight, in La sala Naranja in Valencia, Spain in 2007; in 2008 Agudeza or Acuity at the Huuto Gallery in Helsinski, Finland; Inverted shipwreck in Culiacán, in 2011; Filiform Suns in the Contemporary Gallery at the University of the Cloister of Sor Juana in Mexico City in 2012; Armonía or Harmony in the Gaals, in Culiacán, Sinaloa in 2016; Rangoli-Solitaire in Mysore, India in 2016.

Currently, in one of the galleries of the Museum of Art of Sinaloa, Guadalupe Aguilar is exhibiting Azul profundo or Deep Blue, a sculptural piece in which she dialogues with the marine watercolors and drawings of Maestro Edgardo Coghlan. That very intimate conversation is the theme of this interview. Click any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

What sparked the idea of creating Deep Blue?
It all started with my reflections and readings on our inner consciousness of time, precepts taken from the philosophy of Edmund Hüsserl, primarily. The idea initially was to make a cut in the surface of the sea, with the aim of detaining the incessant coming and going of the sea’s dermis, but not it an image but rather in an object, and that is how the piece came to be. I now live so close to the ocean that these past two years I have reflected on the infinity of its surface and all it holds.

The environment and the landscape always influence.
Yes, although if I go a bit further back, I believe this idea began to germinate in my mind in 2006 or 2007, when I lived in front of a mighty river. The movement of the current got me to thinking about the fleetingness of nature and its ephemeral forms. So, I captured these thoughts in a video and sculpture. The project was titled, El agua en un hiloThe water in a thread, and it was comprised of two reticular cuts in the flow of the current, where the common thread between the two pieces, the video and the sculpture, is the Danube, in a cube and in pixels.

Certainly, contemplating the water in a thread leads us to the abstraction of thinking about the flow of time.
Yes, both pieces pose an exercise around the idea of time and invite us to think about the present, the result equates the internal weight of the past and the future. The here and now.

Why did you choose the Masin (Museum of Art of Sinaloa) for the Deep Blue exhibition?
In 2011 I exhibited the Otra forma or Other Form there, a piece measuring two square meters and consisting of a grid of pins as a support for geometric parts of the plant world. There I saw for the first time the marinas that Master Edgardo Coghlan made, which tour part of the Sinaloan landscape and geography. Since then, I have dialogued with his work and Deep Blue is the result of that conversation. I consider, moreover, that it is important to explore the Sinaloan landscape, which during this long confinement has been denied to us. It is a good moment to revalue our environment and promote its care.

Does Deep Blue mark a distance from your previous work? I ask not in a conceptual or thematic way, but rather for the type of materials you utilized: paraffin, crystal, metal, steels cables and LED lamps.
Distance in the sense of moving away from, no. I actually think that I always repeat myself, including with the type of materials. In addition to the piece described in question one, that corresponds to an installation exhibited in Kunsthalle de Krems, Austria in 2006, I’ve also made drops of resin and clung to the idea of stopping the path of the water drops. Once I made rain with needles and other times sculptures of resin or paraffin. The drops of resin were never exhibited, but the persistent rain of needles was part of the Soles filiformes exhibition which took place in the Contemporary Gallery of the Cloister of Sor Juana.

I had the opportunity to see your poetic-conceptual, visual and auditory proposal. I remember you used paraffin. A lot of time has passed since then.
Yes, quite a bit, I believe; it was in 2012.

What was the last exhibition you had prior to Deep Blue?
I believe Deep Blue is an obvious continuation of the exhibition mounted just a few months ago in Bauprés Gallery in Mazatlán, which included objects that detain the fugitive forms of the landscape surrounding my Mazatlecan habitat. That exhibit was entitled The Permanence of the Ephemeral.

What artistic projects are you currently working on?
A huge imprint of the tormented sea and on stopping the mind.

Camerata Campbell 2021

I have great news for fans of the Camerata Campbell and those of you craving excellent, live and in person classical music: Camerata Campbell is back this year for its tenth season! The pandemic has meant a change of venue for the Maestro and his musicians to the acoustically sweet and open air La Casona de la Machado.

It’s not only the venue that is new and exciting this year. The limitations imposed by the pandemic also dictate fewer musicians on stage. Maestro Campbell has used this as a point of inspiration and each concert with highlight one or two musicians, enabling the audience to fully appreciate the emblematic sound of each instrument. I am told that masks will be required, and there will be one and a half meters between parties with a maximum of 200 people attending. Programs will not be given out due to sanitary precautions, so I share links below so that you can review and print your own.

Camerata Campbell showcases the best of Sinaloan musicians. One of it’s trademarks is high quality music with a bit of education thrown in, and this season will include remarks both by the Maestro as well as from the performers themselves, explaining what inspires them about the pieces they have chosen.

Events will be every Sunday, January 10 through February 28, at 5pm. Tickets are 350 pesos each and can be purchased at the Panamá restaurant in front of the cathedral or in the Golden Zone, at Pedro y Lola on the Machado, or at La Casona on the day of the event.

Maestro Campbell, his wife Guianeya and son Alexander visited with us on Wednesday to treat you to our annual sneak preview of the season.

 

CONCERTS IN THE 2021 SEASON

January 10: Bach’s Partitas with violinist Alexander Gordon Campbell Vdovina

Alexander Campbell, violinist

The very talented Alexander Campbell, the Maestro’s son, will treat us to the Bach Partitas, which are absolutely perfect for our times—uplifting the spirit and building hope. The Ciaconna in particular is famous as a very challenging piece. Part of the second partita, it was composed in honor of Bach’s departed wife. Camerata Campbell presents it in honor of all those we have lost to COVID-19 and to inspire hope that we will soon be getting the better of this horrible plague.

The Bach Partitas are the ultimate trial for a violinist due to their technical difficulty and the spirituality that inspired them. This will be an opportunity for people who don’t know them to add them to their personal playlists. 
Full program and artist biography: https://www.cameratacampbell.com/partitas-de-bach

I was thrilled to have Alexander pull out his instrument and treat Greg and myself to a private concert on our back patio during our interview. I of course recorded that gift to share it with you:

 

January 17: Mexican Waltzes with pianist Aldo Tercero

Aldo Tercero, pianist

Get ready to sway and dance, as internationally known pianist and producer, Aldo Tercero, performs a program of the most famous Mexican waltzes. Even if you think you don’t know waltzes, I’ll bet you can identify the two most famous in the world. The first, of course, is Strauss’s “Blue Danube.” Most people think the second was also written in Vienna, but, interestingly, it was composed by a Mexican: self-taught composer and musician, Juventino Rosas. You may not recognize its title, “Over the Waves,” but I bet you will recognize the tune, which combines a European aesthetic sense with Mexican passion. Rosas was actually here in Mazatlán with diva Angela Peralta when she died, another interesting connection to the plague of our times.

Full program and artist biography: https://www.cameratacampbell.com/valses-mexicanos

 

January 24: Bach Suites for Cello with cellist Arian Castro Murillo

Arián Castro Murillo, cellist

If, like me, you are fascinated by the cello, here is your chance to meditate on some of the best cello music every written, the Bach Suites, which are Indispensable in the repertoire of any accomplished cellist. The pieces will be played by Arián Castro Murillo, principal cellist of the Sinfonietta Philomusica Juventus.

Full program and artist biography: https://www.cameratacampbell.com/suites-de-bach-para-cello 

 

January 31: Spanish Guitar with guitarist Rodolfo Berralleza

Rodolfo Pérez Berrelleza, guitarist

Recipient of a Latin Grammy in 2017, Rodolfo Pérez Berrelleza will delight us with music written for or inspired by Andrés Segovia, who elevated the guitar to a classical instrument. Rodolfo has performed professionally in six countries and appeared on television and radio. 

Full program: https://www.cameratacampbell.com/la-guitarra-española

 

February 7: Barroque Trumpet with Mauro Kuxy

Mauro Kuxyipijy Delgado Díaz, trumpeter

Originally from Oaxaca, Mauro has studied and performed in France, Germany, the USA and throughout México. He will play a thrilling program of baroque style music in which the notes of the trumpet go high into the stratosphere—the most spectacular pieces for the instrument. 

Full program and artist biography: https://www.cameratacampbell.com/trompeta-barroca

 

February 14: Beethoven’s Sonatas with pianist Aldo Tercero

Aldo Tercero, pianist

Aldo Tercero will return to help us finally celebrate Beethoven’s 250th anniversary  with the composer’s most beloved piano sonatas. The audience will quickly understand why the real testament to Beethoven’s music are his 32 piano sonatas, even better than his symphonies. Listening to Aldo perform Moonlight Sonata it will be impossible not to feel the spirituality and to know why the piece is so beloved.

Full program and artist biography: https://www.cameratacampbell.com/sonatas-de-beethoven

 

February 21: Culiacán Brass Quintet

Culiacán Brass Quintet

The largest performing group this season, Culiacán Brass Quintet is composed of musicians of different nationalities who have come together to interpret characteristic as well as original music. For this performance they will play a very happy set of music ranging from baroque through jazz and Latin; some pieces are almost Dixieland. 

Full program and quintet profile: https://www.cameratacampbell.com/culiacan-brass

 

February 28: The Art of the Horn with Gordon Campbell

Gordon Campbell, hornist

Maestro Campbell himself is, of course, a horn player, and he will finish out this season by giving us a demonstration of five different instruments— a panorama of how the horn developed. Horns were used in hunting and as signals. They eventually made their way into the orchestra and gained valves. 

Full program and artist biography: https://www.cameratacampbell.com/el-arte-del-corno

SEASON RECAP

  • When: Sundays at 5pm, January 10-February 28, 2021
  • Where: The interior open-air patio of La Casona on the Plazuela Machado
  • Tickets cost 350 pesos and are for sale at Panamá in front of the cathedral or in the Golden Zone, Pedro y Lola on the Machado, and at La Casona the day of the event.
  • Each concert will last between 60 and 75 minutes

Enjoy this treasured annual series.

Awesome Opportunity for Nature Lovers!

Protecting Migratory Birds in Mazatlán: A Workshop for Birdwatchers is a new FREE OF CHARGE series of excursions for English-speaking residents of Mazatlán, designed to acquaint us with the incredible biodiversity of Monte Mojino and its upcoming designation as a National Protected Area, the largest by far in the state of Sinaloa at 200,000 hectares in area. It will increase Sinaloa’s protected nature areas by 300%!

Monte Mojino is located in the municipalities of Concordia and El Rosario and is home to an extraordinary range of flora and fauna, including 310 species of native and migratory birds—at least 79 of which are in danger of extinction. Many new species have actually been discovered in the area.

This project, conducted by Conselva, our local award-winning conservation agency, with help from the Packard Foundation and US Fish and Wildlife, will involve five sessions, every other week, January through April 2021:

  • Four excursions:
    • January 28th
    • February 11th
    • February 25th
    • March 11th
  • There will be a final, closing event in April which will include a photography exhibit, when participants will share with the community of Mazatlán what they have learned.

For the four excursions participants will carpool in their own vehicles into Monte Mojino, where they will be guided by local experts and residents of the areas we’ll visit. Sandra Guido, director of Conselva, assures me the trips will be safe. Conselva has worked with the local communities for over twelve years and know the area and its residents very well. 

The goal of all of this is to build awareness of and respect for the natural areas of Sinaloa, as well as enthusiasm for conservation and ecotourism. It sounds like a lot of fun to me and something I don’t want to miss! To register for this terrific free workshop, fill out this form. If you’d like more information please send an email to mazatlanmigratorybirds@conselva.org.

Conselva also has a volunteer opportunity for you:

They will also be conducting a series of birdwatching sessions for youth (15 and up years old). These will be held on Saturdays beginning January 16th. They are looking for people to help engage the kids and help them find birds and wildlife to watch—no need to be an expert birdwatcher. Ability to hike around natural areas within the city limits and ideally some basic Spanish will be helpful. Send an email to mazatlanmigratorybirds@conselva.org if you are willing to volunteer. If you know of young people who would be interested in this, please share with them this link: https://www.conselva.org/aves-2020

My 60th Birthday Photo Safari

c6e6553c-6d3e-4031-a5f7-58555357393fWe all curse COVID every chance we get. That wretched virus has hurt so many in so many ways. I was one of the lucky ones: so far it has only robbed me of the 60th birthday African photo safari that I was so looking forward to. Greg and Danny, however, arranged an amazingly marvelous and surprise substitute.

On my birthday I received a gift-wrapped safari hat and binoculars. Hmm… Then I opened a box with a laminated ticket from the local arboretum (photo above). It was for an African Photo Safari on Saturday morning at 10. What in the world could it be? The arboretum doesn’t have animals, especially not African ones. Both of the men in my life were mum; it was to be a surprise.

e9913795-cd24-4fbf-9c77-f2a90df4c9aaOn Saturday morning I packed up my camera gear and put on my sunscreen, and we went to the park. Upon arriving we suddenly started hearing sounds from the savannah! What?! Turns out the sounds were coming from a wireless speaker in Greg’s backpack. Next, Danny’s phone dinged with a text message.

“Hello, Dianne, and welcome to our private safari tour. My name is Ubiyaongashalita and I will be your guide today.”

What? No group tour? This was all planned by my two incredible dudes???!!! That professional-looking laminated ticket was a fake?! Was there really a guide? Or was Danny making this all happen? How exciting! And confusing. I sure did feel loved. And a bit skeptical…

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Just like I imagine a real safari to be, the animals weren’t just waiting around like in a zoo; we needed to know their habits and habitats and search to find them. The guide instructed us via text how to locate each animal on our tour. How cool! The clues were very helpful, e.g.,

“The first animal we will look for is the monkey, a tricky animal that does not respect human laws and is always looking to steal their food.”

 

There was a nearby community garden, so I knew that monkey would be in there. But what was I looking for? A stuffed animal? My husband and son acting like monkeys? I had no clue. The first animal, therefore, was by far the most difficult to find. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

It turns out the animals I was looking for were those one-to-two inch tall kids’ toys—far from easy to spot in a huge park! More clues followed, such as:

  • “The alligator hides deep in the jungle where there are a great variety of plants, and it ‘bathes’ in lakes and lagoons.”
  • “Gorillas, being our cousins, can be very ‘handy’ using tools and making shelters.”
  • “I think now you are ready to meet the king of the jungle. He likes to rest in the shade of trees on the savannah.”
  • “The cheetah hides in bushes next to flat land. This way the cheetah can wait till an animal comes close, pouncing and sprinting after it.”
  • “Now let’s look for the brave rhino. His tusks are sharp as ‘steel,’ a ‘monument’ to strength. Rhinos can tip over cards with ease.”

To give you an idea, the alligator was in a birdbath in the middle of a flower garden; the gorilla was on a fence post in front of the tool shed; and the rhino was on a steel statue of something tipped-over. Some of the clues contained puns—that’s when I knew that Danny had written them: “Rhi-no you are loving this tour” or “The meerkat is so small we ‘meerly’ missed it!” It turns out Danny had visited the park the night before after work and placed the animals there. How did no one that morning pick up any of my treasures? I was amazed that they were all still right there, hidden in plain sight!

To get the shot I had to lay on the ground, kneel, stretch really tall, get dirty and sweaty… the photography bit was definitely realistic. Fortunately I did not have to run away from anything chasing me!

Another extremely cool aspect of the safari was that it included sightings of the Big Five: the leopard, lion, African buffalo, elephant and rhinoceros! All five in a single morning; can you imagine? Greg had very resourcefully purchased a coin for each of the Big Five animals. In the video below he presents me with the Rhino coin from Zambia.

The safari was a whole lot of fun. One of the biggest joys was watching the reaction of the people who were also enjoying the park. “What’s that sound?” “Did I hear an elephant?” The kids got so very excited! “Daddy, I hear a stampede!” Quite a few of the kids got jealous, though, which made me feel bad but was also pretty humorous: “Mom, I want a toy zebra like she just found. Let’s find some for us!”

The final animal on the safari was the elephant. The clue included these words: “In my village we commemorate the elephant with a dance, usually done in pairs. You and your husband should try it.” Of course the elephant was on the base of a statue of two dancers! Below is me doing the happy dance as I receive my final coin. Geek alert!!!  😉

After the safari we went to the only African restaurant that we could find in the Urbana-Champaign area. It was really good and the air conditioning was most welcome, too.

I still hope to make the trek to Africa and participate in a photo safari. In the meantime, however, I’ll be busy putting together a shadow box of my animals and coins! Bless you, men! I do love you dearly and am so very blessed that you are my family!