Category Archives: November 2017

Editor’s Letter

Jane“Tragedy is the greatest art form of all. It gives us the courage to continue with our life by exposing us to the pain of life. It is unsentimental, it takes us seriously as human beings, it is not condescending. Paradoxically, by seeing pain we are made greater, it becomes a need.”

― Howard Barker

So much has happened since I sat down to write my last editorial for The Eye at the end of August. We have had several earthquakes that devastated areas of Oaxaca and CDMX – so many harrowing stories of loss. Continue reading Editor’s Letter

Potters of Ixtaltepec

Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 4.39.55 PMBy Brooke Gazer

When I think about traditional Mexican design, the first image that pops into my head is a huge terra cotta pot filled with plants. This may be a personal bias because I was a potter in a former life. I learned to pot on an electric wheel, never advancing beyond a large salad bowl or a two-liter casserole. Few potters do because it takes so much upper body strength and energy to handle more clay, even if it is added in segments. This makes me I appreciate the amount of work and skill that goes into throwing those enormous pieces. Continue reading Potters of Ixtaltepec


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By Julie Etra

The first major period of Mexican art and promotion of mural painting began in Mexico in the 1920s the most famous being the ‘big three’, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros. The art movement was centered around social and political messages as part of efforts to reunify the country under the post Mexican Revolution government. We had the good fortune- actually planned well in advance- to see an excellent exhibit at the Palacio de las Bellas Artes in Mexico City last winter, two floors, featuring the artists named above. And of the three Rivera is still my favorite. There is no lack of information about these artists, but the following story is a bit unusual. Continue reading Muralists

The Case of the Missing Mural

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By Marcia Chaiken and Jan Chaiken

The first vicious controversy over a wall between Mexico and the U.S. took place 85 years ago in New York City. Two larger-than-life personalities were involved: the US philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and the famed Mexican artist Diego Rivera. The battle was waged over a mural Rivera had painted in the newly erected Radio City Music Hall in Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan. Continue reading The Case of the Missing Mural

Five Eclectic Art Books to Enjoy or Give as Gifts

By Carole Reedy

Contrary to Oscar Wilde’s assertion that “art is useless,” we believe art in its many forms is what makes life worth living, adding dimension to our often dull daily routine. Said more eloquently by Picasso, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” In anticipation of Christmas gift buying, this month we offer a selection of books that take art to a new level. Continue reading Five Eclectic Art Books to Enjoy or Give as Gifts

REPORT FROM MEXICO CITY – Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On

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By Carole Reedy

At noon on a beautiful, sun-drenched day walking down Reforma Avenue in the capital city, I observed lines of employees obediently returning to their high-rise offices after the simulacro (practice evacuation for an earthquake), reminding me of our 1950s grammar school air-raid drills in preparation for any future bombs coming from Russia. I thought to myself how stupid it was, disrupting everything to practice leaving a building. But after all, this was the 32nd anniversary of the big earthquake in 1985 in which more than 10,000 chilangos lost their lives. Understandable, then, I decided. Continue reading REPORT FROM MEXICO CITY – Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On

What Do You Know about “Modern” Mexican Art?

Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 4.41.15 PMBy Deborah Van Hoewyk

Maybe not so much. We probably all know more than we think we do about the highest points of Mexican art—Pre-Columbian Art, in which art and architecture, craft and communication were one; and post-Revolutionary art, best known for the major muralists (frequently called the “modernists”) who became international art superstars; their work was known as La Escuela Mexicana de la Pintura (Mexican School of Painting). Encouraged by their own government to help form the Mexican identity following the chaos of the Revolution, the muralists studied in Europe, painted in the U.S., and became national heroes. They tended to overshadow more personal painters who are now cherished—Frida Kahlo (1907-54) who was considered a surrealist at the time, and Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991), who rendered Mexican imagery with European techniques, and who was also at times considered a surrealist. (Neither thought of her- or himself as a surrealist at all.) Continue reading What Do You Know about “Modern” Mexican Art?

The Art of Repair

Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 4.41.32 PMBy Leigh Morrow

Pottery has long been considered an art form in Mexico, and in Oaxaca, women have reigned supreme. The Aguilar family is perhaps one of the best known of the pottery families. The dynasty began with potter Isaura Alcántara Díaz as a young girl, learning the traditional pottery making techniques of the Oaxaca Valley, which were originally mostly limited to making utilitarian items. She began to experiment with decorative human figures, imaginatively capturing the daily activities of pueblo life. Women in indigenous garb were portrayed in every aspect of life and her work deeply influenced her children and grandchildren, who continue today to shape Oaxacan folk art. However, like most pottery art, once a piece is broken, it loses its value. Continue reading The Art of Repair

How Juchitán and Ixtaltepec Are Surviving the Tragedy

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By Brooke Gazer

September was miserable month for Mexico. On September 7, the southern coast of Oaxaca and parts of Chiapas were scourged as an 8.1 earthquake shook the region for ninety seconds. This was the most powerful quake in the history of Mexico. Then only twelve days later, a 7.1 devastated parts of Puebla, Morelos and Mexico City. Huatulco was left unscarred, but during the entire month, the country felt like it was riding a roller coaster, as aftershocks kept peoples nerves on edge. Continue reading How Juchitán and Ixtaltepec Are Surviving the Tragedy