Friday, February 25, 2011

From Ajijic Art Show to San Miguel de Allende . . .

These journal pages cover some mileage . . . we visually trek from the lakeside Mexico town of Ajijic, over a six hour drive to the mountain city of San Miguel de Allende. So, come along . . .

I'd seen great advertising for this show from nearly the time we arrived in the Lake Chapala, Mexico area. There were magazine ads, street banners and then, mention at that local artist's club meeting too ~ for the "Art + Ajijic" Show. So when the dates finally arrived, I was anxious. Now I knew it was at the soccer field and everyone kept directing us just to this particular street crossing, but darned if we could find it. We were on foot and it was getting a tad frustrating, until I saw a flow of people and some vendors set up outside. The tented area was huge, probably 100 feet square, with 10 x 10 foot spaces for the artists running both directions and a food/drink hub in the center (yes, a vodka sampling booth!) Entry required $50 pecos, giving me entrance, a drawing for a piece of art (by the participating artists, this was a required donation, I later learned) and a quality color program. It listed the artist, their bio and a sample of their work. As I traveled thru the maze of creativity, I picked up several business cards from my favorite artists. Displaying all these cards so I can turn some of them over, yet keep them all together was perplexing . . . the solution came as I noticed the dangling blue thread (from the previous page where I tied the receipt into the page). How about I just knot them together and let them add some motion to this page? Tah-Dah!! I was most impressed with the polished presentation here under this giant tent, calculating how I could be a part of this in the future. But, having access to the artist's viewpoint when I next visited the art club, I heard the fellow who organized the entire show, was showing scoundrel characteristics . . . like not paying the artists. Hummmm . . . more to consider.

For quite awhile, we'd planned to travel to San Miguel. Our reservations were all in order and we had only to sludge thru southern Guadalajara and swing east and then up into the higher mountains. Our lodging for the two night stay was Ruth Hyba's "La Mansion del Bosque" just down Calle Aldama, walking distance from the main square. The charming stacked adobe like cluster of rooms offered many intriguing little shelves. This was my very favorite nook, a narrow shelf featuring an earthenware kneeling woman diligently working of some chore. I loved how the light bounced off her bottom and onto the wall ~ delicious colors! The next day we poked around the mosaic of rolling streets and I finally settled on this scene in the main plaza to sit and sketch. This was the only plein air sketch I was able to complete during our trip. But I'm happy with the richness of color glow. The final illustration from San Miguel is from one of the streets we usually took to reach our lodging. But on one of the final late afternoons we were there, our pathway caught the late sun setting off to the west (the right in the image) which set the opposite side of this street on fire with sunlight, just setting aglow this opposite side of the street and it's buildings.
For a more detailed photo tour of San Miguel please check out my previous entry:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Journal Memories ~ Tlaquapaque and Getting Well

These journal entries of reminiscent of two, well, nearly opposite happenings while we were in Mexico. The first what the wonderful trip up to Tlaquepaque ( and, then, the other, what it's like being sick in Mexico.

The tall, graceful ceramic piece is from one of Tlaquepaque's best galleries, The Bustamante Gallery. This incredible artist does ceramics, metal and jewelry. I was most impressed with him and his talents. Later that afternoon after all the galleries, we stopped for the most sumptuous lunch Roland had the entire trip. In fact, he continued attempting to replicate the rest of our time in Mexico, but never did. It was his "Chile En Nogada" which I tried to capture here.

The final sketch on the opposite page recalls my experience with a sinus infection and it's treatment. First, of course, I sought out traditional medicine at the local clinic in Ajijic. This lil' stool was representative of the l-l-l-l-l-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-n-g wait I had at the clinic, and I've tied the receipt for the two different antibiotics I was prescribed. After thirteen days on the antibiotics, my sinuses were surging back with a vengeance and rather than return to the clinic, a friend recommended a homeopathic doctor in the area. I went ~ and in one day I was much better, day two, I felt wonderful. You know where I'll go next time - - the first time! The business cards are to remind me of where to go to avoid the pharmaceuticals I'd prefer to stay away from in the future.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Approaching Thanksgiving & Beyond . . . via Journal Pages

These days illustrate a sort of "becoming acquainted and comfortable" in our new Mexico area. One must, of course, take trips and tours and wanderings thru many and various neighborhoods. Early on we toured the city of Lake Chapala. To me this felt much bigger, more "citified" than most of the village-like towns we'd seen before. The main street, wide with giant trees lining the median and all the government buildings standing tall, firm up next to the substantial church in the square was impressive. After our walk along the concrete walkway bordering the lake we passed by the church where a wedding was finalizing and I caught this sweet girl playing amongst the pigeons. But I also noticed the strong familial trio standing prideful and protective very nearby.

Another town we visited more frequently (and personally more to my tastes) was Ajijic. It was a long but do-able walk along the Boulevard (called the "Caraterra") but usually we chose to drive. We'd heard most expats closed up their doors and stayed home night but, we didn't pick up anything to feel fearful of. So we'd walk Cody most nights right along the arterial road heading to downtown Ajijic and one brave night, we heard the patron saint of Ajijic was being celebrated. And we braved the darkness of night to discover a lovely atmosphere there. Wandering to the square, where the streets were blocked off to set up the children's carnival rides and street vendors for the adults, the wall murals and magically lite streets were compelling. We viewed the early preparations and then stopped at our favorite coffee shop, listening to mass being held just across the street. We learned the Ajijic streets were fascinating, safe (well, save for one wacky cowboy on horseback) and alluring ~ no more stayin' in once evening approached!

The adjacent image comes from our Thanksgiving celebration. When we'd discovered La Nueva Posada, an old historic hotel/restaurant for a previous lunch, we saw advertised their traditional Thanksgiving Dinner. We had no particular plans, so got reservations. The lovely part of Mexico is that they allow dogs to accompany you dining, usually out on the patio. Well, look at the divine patio area ~ lounging under a huge rubber tree with a view of the lake before us. And we have to add ~ that the turkey was THE very best we've ever had from a restaurant!!

We took walks before our Thanksgiving dinner and again after (of necessity!) and eventually settled back home at the RV. We'd both written out "gratitude lists" to share with one another (that's whats in the envelope showing off the hand made table placard) and nestled in to read them aloud. Smiles and laughter came with some of the entries . . . but, the overview? How VERY much we have to be grateful for. Humbly we turn . . . to the next journal page . . .

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Journaling, Yes, Journaling!!

Yipppppppppppie . . . I've nearly caught up my journal from the Mexico trip. Sorry, but if you were following that trip with just my journal entries, I believe I left you up somewhere in the mountains above Guadalajara. Hope you've stayed warm all these winter nights, but now . . . I'll begin to bring you at least up to the present.

These pages are from November 17, 2010. The upper left image was a lovely memory of a day trip we took to the west end of Lake Chapala,
where a supposedly large RV campground named "Roca Azul" was located. We'd considered staying at this location when we were "interviewing" places in the area. But as we drove into the development - we were more and more grateful we landed where we landed. The property was a big development with a housing area first before you reached the RV area, which huddled up against the lake. Decent houses, but so many were run down and/or vacant that it just didn't make up for the nicely kept ones. Once we reached the RV grounds, we were impressed with the "potential" that was originally there, lovely community rooms, restaurants, volleyball courts, swimming pools and picturesque grounds. But with lack of occupancy left an eerie feeling to this attractive area. The sketch I chose here, was a charming walk way leading around the lake with cool turquoise wrought iron benches gazing at a concrete peer and it's lookout tower. We were entertained by grey herons and egrets aplenty. We left with almost a sadness that this place hadn't "taken off", it had such a marvelous location and grounds.

My next entry was one of total respect. These are replications of the Ajijic artist, Efren Gonzales, whom I stumbled upon early in our Lake Chapala stay. We parked in front of his Art Center and, of course, went in. Amiable, personable, warm and talented, we talked about art, his philosophies and he handed me this "business card" which he wrote out on a scrap of matte board. Later, my mind had an idea of getting Efren up to Oregon to instruct at the Ashland Art Center. So, that is in the works now. And, as I sketched these portions from his works, I just became more impressed with the underlying skill and development therein. Then, the more conversations I had with this gentleman, the more I admired him. Not only is his artwork captivating, but the way he leads his life is such that I want every artist, every person to hear it. He talks about following his talents and his inner direction despite outer influences. His soft confidence that what he needs will be provided fulfills spiritual teachings I yearn to emulate. The one quote from his mother which he lives by, that so touched me is scribbled down and stuck on my journal page, "Life should be indebted to me because of all I give"! How many of us are living with that thought? So here is my humble tribute to Efren Gonzales.

The final entry was from the lovely garden at the La Nueva Posada Hotel and Restaurant. Nestled in the heart of downtown Ajijic, this historic and charming hotel was the lunch meeting place. It was one of the serendipitous event on this trip . . . a dear friend who moved from the Bay Area of California about the same time I did, ended up traveling to Lake Chapala at the very same time Roland and I were going. So, naturally, we met for lunch. The patio of this hotel is fronted by the shimmering Lake Chapala and sprinkled with sculpture and gardens. For hours we sat and shared Mexico experiences and just caught up on life with this gracious statue peering over our table. Just another day in paradise . . .

Stay tuned for more of my journal entries . . .

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Nesting of a Heart . . .

As you notice by the date, it's taken awhile for me to gather myself all back together and start participating in my juicy, enriching life here in Oregon. But, it has finally begun and I'm feeling grounded once more.

You know all the standard stuff, laundry, unpacking, going thru the mail and touching base with precious friends has made me feel so supported and loved. Aren't friends just the "best-est" thing on the planet?

I went back to my sweet studio space in the Ashland Art Center and wiggled back into my chair, beginning to paint and update my journal. It feels SO GOOD!!! Reconnecting with my artists peers and catching up on all the goings on at the Art Center (like the big fund raiser in March with demos and more and more!!!) The year of 2011 has been declared the "Year of Paper" at the Art Center and there was created a playful, fascinating hanging 'mobile' of sorts. It dangles on movable threads in the open space above the stairs - located just in my horizon when I look up from my desk. Love the patterns formed by the afternoon light on the paper objects!!! Also, I have new neighbors, whose names I'm still learning (blush) that I caught here, chatting to the public at our February "First Friday Artwalk". Now, upon request, I'm starting to plan a "Watercolor Basics for Journaling" class . . . hopefully starting in March. I love my Art Center home :)

And then there's my sweet "home, sweet home" too. As both Roland and I walked into our cozy, cheery abode, we looked at each other saying, "We love this lil home, tell me again why we want to move to Mexico?" Even without encouragement or tender care, our adorable teeny white Snowdrop blossoms have popped up all around our home and meekly peek out when we have a sunny afternoon. Inside, I'm surrounded by all the earthy, rich wood that I so much appreciate (having realized that, when we visited Mazamitla, remember?) and my treasured lil' green wood burning stove. Two of my favorite times of day are: 1) in the early morn, when Roland has just stoked the golden fire and we sit with our coffee mugs and read our daily selection from Buddhist or other spiritual encouragements, and then, 2) at night, when it's frosty cold out and the fire warms our spirits and 'cockles' after our nightly walk.

Roland is busy again. Currently, he's modernizing our second bedroom's closet door and has placed our 28 foot RV and the PT Cruiser (that we towed) up for sale. We've decided we'd probably not drive back down to Mexico in the RV again and selling the duo would make sense, since they are so nicely paired up with the custom hitch and braking system. And right now, he's mustering up a yummy pasta dinner (wanna drop by?).

Seems life is moving and changing . . . as always. Despite my attempt to freeze the "perfect" things in my life . . . I'm still learning that change IS the perfection. My ~ the lessons never do end, I guess, if you want to stay vibrantly alive, eh?

So, for now . . . my heart is all nested back into it's home . . . can you hear it purring?