I’m going down to Mexico City soon, with side trips to Zacatecas and Puebla. I’m looking forward to seeing again the fabulous art and architecture, ancient and modern, the food of course, and the music.
One of Mexico’s most appealing expressions of its culture is its folk art.
Although I love all Mexican folk art, my favourite is the hojalata (in English tin), the colourful charming tin art. Mexico celebrates Day of the Dead and Christmas with tin folk art.
In Mexico, the hojalata goes back to the 16th century to Spanish colonial times. Today, in Mexico, many people have tin folk art displayed in their homes, while other places such as cathedrals have symbolic religious tin art displayed.
Sheets of tin are cut, shaped and embossed with a pattern, then bright lacquer and enamel paint is applied. All tin folk art is handmade by Mexican artisans and craftsmen and craftswomen, who create with a sense of humour and imagination.
The mirrored tin heart is my favourite. Here are some hearts I brought back when I last visited Mexico.
I'll be wandering through mercados looking for more tin hearts. They'll soon be available on my website for your enjoyment and purchase. They are joyful things.
Wild love breaks the rules. It's too wild and dark to exist in the living world. Fueled by obsession, violence, envy, jealousy, deceit, it often ends in death. Wild transgressive love stories weave themselves through history, in literature, opera, movies, in political arenas, on the streets, on the moors. It's timeless.
Music is one of the most exciting ways to express wild love. Georges Bizet's opera Carmen is a tale of seduction, abandonment, jealousy and murder, which began with the wild gypsy Carmen.Nina Simone compares her love to the wild wind. Her fierce rendition of Wild is the Wind soars to meet that wind.
Thinking about hidden love and wild love in this post and the last, I was inspired by images in nature. Here are some designs interpretations I've created which are available for your home on Society6.
Wild love! It's a wild ride. Is it worth it? You can only answer that yourself. After.
Experiencing impossible love is stressful. We're motivated to savour and maximize positive emotions, and hide negative ones. So, why do we hide love? In a revealing article What does it hide, we're informed of the many reasons we choose to keep our love secret: disinterest in your gender, taboo, forbidden, illegal, religion, incapable of returning your affection, attachment to another, geography. And we begin to fantasize.
Secret love is chaos. The rules are different. We hide. A special language is created. We find the language to express this complexity in The Arts.
Viewing the surrealistic painting by Rene Magritte 'The Lovers' can arouse complex emotions in us. We are invited to look closer for hidden meanings. The unknown creator of 'Stolen Kiss is surely conveying secret feelings of love.
Here's a heart breaking list of songs about secretly being in love. The seemingly simple words have power because we understand, without wanting to, the fragility of having a secret love. "You Don't Know Me" sung by Ray Charles, can break your heart.
One way to overcome the agony of being unable to express your love openly is to send a card, any time, but especially on Valentine's Day. During the 1700s in England, people started sending Valentine cards anonymously, simply signed "Your Valentine."Today 150 million Valentine's Day cards are sold. That's a whole lota love! These cards and others are now available on my website. It's never too late to express your love. Valentine's Day is coming soon...
What do we know about the history of the image of love?
In an article about the origins of Valentine's Day, we discover that the image of the heart as an expression of love had a dark and bloody beginning in ancient Roman, was sweetened and romantized during Shakespeare's time, and commercialized in the 1900s.
How did we get from here to here?
I'm creating a series of blogs over the next few weeks which will explore images of the heart as an expression of love in history. The blogs will explore how the graphic heart shape became the ambassador of love.
If you are yearning to express love in graphic form, here are some heart-themed greeting cards, now available on my website.
When I want the luxury of escapism, the right movie can transport me to a time and place I've never been--like Alice going through the looking glass into a fantastical world.
The theme of cinematic voyerism appeals to my curious nature, and in the movies, I experience voyerism from the comfort of my armchair. How I interpret what I see is up to me. And I'm inspired to try new things.
Great movies comfort me and make me laugh. The world is knowable, and I feel safe. Especially when I'm viewing Some Like it Hot, for the twentieth time. It's a great movie, and it stands the test of time: all great movies do. I believe that there are movie fans somewhere out there like me, who laugh like me. I'm connected to strangers.
Great movies create a powerful sense of emotion and engagement. I'm inspired to become a bigger better version of myself.
Great movies inspire memorable quotations. Just a word or two or three and we know the movie source, and memories begin. A few words can instantly transport us to Casablanca or Paris, to Infinity and Beyond with the toys, singe our funny bones with Some Like It Hot, and know the power of a little furball.
I've created some home decor items which display quotations from the movies. They're available on Society 6.
ESCAPISM amigos, is ultimately why I started going to the movies. Discovering somethings about myself is why I'll always return.
In my continued investigations into duality, I've found myself exploring the concept of the shadow.
The shadow is a unique form of sculptural art. There are many creative expressions of shadows out there which are exciting, exquisite, highly individualistic, playful, sublime, exciting, and provocative.
On another plane, the shadow exists within us...the shadow is an "other" of us.
The use of shadows as a creative expressive form is ancient. Shadow Play, also known as Shadow Puppetry, believed to have originated in Central Asia-China or in India in the 1st millennium BCE, is still enacted today. It's the prelude to cinematography.
As a twin, I'm interested in duality in its many forms. The 'twin' being the obvious one, but there are so many other examples. One of the more interesting aspects of 'doubleness' is the palimpsest.
Palimpsest is a manuscript or piece of writing material on which later writing has been superimposed on effaced earlier writing. It is something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.
Lost ancient text recovered - Previously unknown classical Greek mythological and medical works, newly discovered classical scientific texts preserved only in Syriac translation, religious writings in extinct languages, an ancient Christian poem describing Old Testament figures in Homeric style and detailed illustrations of plants, buildings and people have been found.
The Sinai Palimpsests Project contains 74 palimpsests totaling some 6,800 pages in 10 languages and containing erased layers of writing from the fifth to the 12th centuries. They are accessible to students, scholars and the public at sinaipalimpsests.org
Ancient Manuscripts from Greece, Rome, Early Christianity, Medieval Europe, enrich our understanding of the past and reveal information which we thought was lost.
Another expression of palimpsest is luminolused by forensic investigators to detect trace amounts of blood at crime scenes. When luminol is sprayed across an area, trace amounts of an activating oxidant make the luminol emit a blue glow that can be seen in a darkened room, revealing a hidden story underneath.
A dark expression of palimpsest appears when Alzheimer arrives, when an existing life is overwritten, and we watch as an original work of art begins to disappear, leaving only traces of the original.
"To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart."
Greeting cards are great way to receive and send a heart-felt thought. October 6th is World Card Making Day. Why not take the time to make a card the old fashioned way with paper, scissors and glue, OR check these three websites below where you can make your own.
Society6 - This a great website to make your own cards, custom clothing and home decor.
Shopify - If you think you've got the chops for it, you can not only make your own cards, but sell them on line.
Canva - For the beginner, this site will help you choose custom backgrounds and text to produce a beautiful custom-made card.
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If you don't feel like making your own, you can order from me. Here are a few selections, and more on my website.
The mirror is a powerful creative means of expression which invites us to explore the "double", the "other", because the other image helps explain a concealed meaning.
Mirror reflection is exciting, delightful, and it instantly unleashes our desire to play. Mirrors are so common in every day life that their captivating and enchanting expressive qualities are sometimes paradoxically unseen. They take us away from the every day, the known, the ordinary, the expected, and in the hands of artists, into an topsy-turvy, distorted, other world. Creativity is unleashed. Wonders abound.
Catoptrophobia is the fear or mirrors. Some people are afraid of their own reflection, others of reflected words, and still others of the mirror's potential link with the supernatural. I don't think that Ryan Everson is one of those people. Or maybe he meets his fear boldly.
We believed. We were betrayed. We were conned. Experts were fooled. Our trust stolen. Our commitment challenged. From Ancient Egypt, Classical Greece, the Roman Empire, through the European Renaissance to Modern Art, the art of forgery endures.
It's understood that the ancient Romans copied ancient Greek art. One empire did not forge another empire's art work. Comparing Greek art to Roman art, Rebecca Warner concludes in her article in Quora that “Greek art was more sophisticated in form, and much Roman art consisted of copies of Greek art". Fortunately, for posterity, the Diana of Versailles is a marble statue of the Greek goddess Artemis (Latin: Diana), and is a Roman copy (1st or 2nd century AD) of a lost Greek bronze original 325 BC.The Jennings Dog is a 2nd-century AD Roman copy of a Hellenistic bronze original, probably of the 2nd century BC.
In A Forger’s Tale, convicted forger Shaun Greenhalgh’s memoir, he reveals that he drew Leonardo da Vinci’s La Bella Principessa, which has been valued upwards of US$100 million. With commitment and talent, it seems that art forgery isn't difficult to do. Many have been duped.
Forger John Myatt, was imprisoned in 1995, but not before he sold 200 works in the style of Picasso, Van Gogh and Chagall as originals to auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's. In 2008 after his release he launched an exhibition at Harrods of his "Masters-inspired" paintings.
In a New York Times article by Anita Gates, Where Art Forgeries Meet Their Match we understand that forgers should never wear synthetic fibres, and they should know how to sign the artist's name correctly.
My explorations into the concept of "the Other" in the history of art continues with this blog post, and the next...
The technique of silk screening allowed Andy to create double and multiple images of movie stars, soup cans, flowers, Brillo boxes. The visual shift from one image to its double creates appealing visuals of movement and excitement.
Rachel Small article on Edvard Munch and Andy Warhl highlights the similarities that that the artists shared in their understanding of the value multiple image in the art market.
In Elvis Presley we see the never ending glorification of imitation, freedom, the thrill of becoming an Other, any time.
It’s impossible to know the truth about the life of Andy Warhol. As his fame grew, and demands made on his time, Andy was represented by a double: Allen Midget, and hardly anyone noticed. A robot was created in Andy’s likeness for a Broadway show, but limited technology could not complete the vision. He wanted the robot to go on the road and make public appearances in his place.
Andy skillfully used contradictions and veils to create mystery around his public persona. The private Andy was a shy, religious man who went to church on Sundays, and lived with his mother in New York. In contrast to the chaotic atmosphere of the Factory, the front parlor of his home was tidy and tastefully decorated--but the other rooms were packed to capacity. Andy was a hoarder of epic proportions.
I'm Beside Myself I’m a twin. Virginia is my counterpart. There’s a second set of twin sisters: Patricia and Donna. Twin nephews and twin aunts appear along my family line. It’s no wonder that I’m inspired to create designs based on the Twin motif, the Double, the Other.
Twins appear throughout history and in mythology, in literature and the visual arts, in science (Einstein’s “twin paradox” explains his special theory of relativity), and in modern culture (Elvis Presley was a twin). Syriac traditions recognized Thomas, “Didymus,” as Christ’s twin. In Roman mythology, twins Romulus and Remus founded the ancient city of Rome.
In the visual arts, the twin image appears in many guises, but not always recognized as such. The Double appears in a mirror, as reflection, in a shadow, as imitation, in optical illusions. The idea of twins invites us to look at the familiar in a different way. To think twice, to think again, and explore.
I'm working on some new designs and they'll be available soon on Society6. More information soon. Until then...
La Catrina is an icon of the Day of the Dead in Mexico. Even though she is a skeleton, La Catrina is a tradition full of life wearing her elaborate somberero and elegant dress.
Death is not feared in Mexico: offerings, songs, respect and humor are common Mexican expressions towards death, and Catrina, the Grande Dame of Death, is admired and respected. Her beginnings as Mictēcacihuātl go back to the Aztec era. During the twentieth century, in the creative hands of artist Jose Guadalupe Posada, Catrina's image was transformed. She gained political importance and became a cultural icon.
Catrina's image is seen all over Mexico: on the streets, in the parks, and in the tiendas/shops. El Museo de Arte Popular has a fantastical collection of Catrinas. A search on the web shows the many forms Catrina takes: tatoos, makeup, chocolates, candy. Clothing such as dresses, hats, headbands, shoes, baby and children's clothes, dog clothes, display her image. She appears on the top of cakes, as a bride, and as a pregnant woman.
In Mexico you don't have to look for Catrina. She finds you. She is an extraordinary example of how the Mexican people embrace the reality of death and bring it into their every day life. La Catrina is educating me.
The Mexican people live with the reality of earthquakes, too often. And they are brave. My explorations have shown me that although this catastrophic and destabilizing event destroys edifices, a surprising number of buildings in Mexico City seem designed to echo some of the effects of earthquakes. These bold and daring architectural creations exist in many cities in Mexico.
A common feature of urban Mexico is a circle called punto de reunión - meeting point - which appears on sidewalks in the city. Each circle marks a predesignated evacuation point for a nearby building.
Their usefulness is debatable. I wonder if this symbol is an attempt to give people a sense of safety and control in the middle of a crisis. They need it.
I like serendipity, and it finds me sometimes just walking down the street. An afternoon's meander has taken me past rooftop guardians, through the grounds of a modern art museum with its giant ant installation, past an auto parts store with velvet sofa, and delivered me to a tranquil garden with a sculpture shouldering its tiny burden.
When you visit Mexico, you must stroll through these parks. You'll be delighted with what will find you.
Papel picados are elaborate decorative cut paper designs found all over Mexico. Although commonly on display during secular and religious occasions, papel picados are seen in abundance during the Day of the Dead ceremonies. The history of this art form, as with all of Mexico's artistic past, is very interesting. Mesoamerican cultures such as the Otomi and the Aztec created images in their designs for use in rituals to combat disease, misfortune, dangerous spirits, and for protection.
Joanna Koerten, Amsterdam Vtynanky, Ukraine
Cut paper artistry is found in countries world-wide: China'slong tradition with this artistic form began in the sixth century. Since the 16th century in Germany it's been called scherenschnitte. In Amsterdam during the 1650s the artist Joanna Koerten created landscapes using this artistic style. And in the Ukraine the art of vytynanky began in the fifteenth century and became an integral part of the country's decorative arts during the 19th century.
During the final decade of his life, Henri Mattise created many wonderful works of art using cut-out paper designs.
Peter Calleson Lisa Rodden
The art of paper cutting is not confined to the past. Today, contemporary artists continue to create exquisite elaborate works of art using cut paper. The article by SA Rogers "15 of the World’s Most Creative Papercraft Artists" tells us that the art of cutting paper is still a vibrant form of artistic expression. In Hannah Shaffer's article "A Cut Above: 10 Incredible Papercut Artists, we see a remarkable range of imaginative creative works when artists are most experimental with simple tools: paper and blade.
Some of the colourful Mexican papel picado designs can be seen on my Society 6 webpage. They're exuberant and fun to have around. Hope you enjoy them.
If you liked sugar skull designs, there's more to come...
Symbolism of Chance (Fortuna's Wheel) 16th-17th French ivory pendant
Skull symbolism is the the attachment of symbolic meaning to the human skull. The most common symbolic use of the skull is as a representation of death and mortality. This iconic image populates the history of art.
ivory Renaissance memento mori ancient Tibetan citipati skull mask
In many countries memento mori is an object which serves as a warning or reminder of death. Images of death are portrayed in all cultures through the ages, from classic antiquity, medieval Europe, the Victorian era, Buddhism, Japanese Zen, Tibet, and in Native American culture.
18th century was tableau Queen Elizabeth early 20th century postcard
Anika Burgess in her article introduces us to some masterpieces of memento mori. Menachem Wecker's article suggests that memento mori is one of art history's spookiest and misunderstood genre.
In the fashion industry today, skull imagery is glorified, and this has been the case since ancient times when people wore bone necklaces to show respect and as signs of power. Today we find skull imagery on jewellery, clothing, ceramics, home furnishings, on stationery, baby clothes, even doggie clothes. The skull also makes its appearance on outlaw biker gear, on vehicles, and in tattoos.
Sugar skulls appear all over Mexico for Day of the Dead celebrations. Mexican folk art abounds with fantastical images of the skull.
Death was once defined as the cessation of heartbeat. But now without a functioning heart or lungs, life can sometimes be sustained with a combination of life support devices, organ transplants and pacemakers. My emergency trips to the hospital for heart complications have saved my life. Early detection and state-of-the-art treatment for cancer have saved many lives. My life was one of them.
I know a truth: No matter one's station in life, the Dance Macabre unites all.
My near death experiences have inspired me to explore the symbolic depictions of death in art. My skull art collection had begun.
I’m inspired to create by what I see around me, and what's inside me. Exciting colours and complex patterns motivate me to explore. Artists, past and contemporary, influence my creations. I don't feel alone when I’m in unknown territory.
Mexican art and religion celebrates death and uses images of skulls and skeletons as their motifs. That's because death in Mexico is treated differently than in other parts of the world. Death is a daily part of life. It is not mourned or shunned. In November, on the Day of the Dead - Día de Muertos, deceased loved ones are celebrated. Altars (ofrendas) are built and favourite foods and confectionaries in the shapes of skulls populate those altars.
Artistic representation of the skull began in ancient times, but was suppressed during the Spanish-Aztec War (1519-21), then emerged as a symbol of Mexicanidad after Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821.
Famous Mexican illustrator José Guadalupe Posada (1851–1913) was known for his satirical and politically acute Calaveras. His skeleton images became iconic when they took on a whole different meaning socially and politically, and came to represent the feelings of the Mexican people leading up to the Mexican Revolution.
Something that has always been personal to me is the symbol of the heart. It represents, love, life, and faith. It's the symbol for February 14th, Valentine's Day, which is my birthday. Whenever I see the heart symbol, it reminds me of love lost and found, and of trips to the hospital with heart complications. On my many visits to Mexico City, I'm overjoyed when I see the beautiful tin hearts in the mercados.
For these reason, I want to share some joy with you. I've been collecting original tin hearts for some time, and I've created some designs based on them. They are now available online, in different materials and objects for you to enjoy in your home.
Head over to my profile on Society6.com to see my tin heart designs. For now, here are a few things you can buy.
I’ve fallen in love with Mexican FOLK ART, especially the colourful tin hearts seen in markets all over Mexico. Although the heart symbol has many unique decorative expressions, including tattoos, my favourite remains the tin heart. During my recent trip to Mexico City, I saw many.
History tells us that the heart symbol appeared in Mayan and Aztec civilizations long before the arrival of the Spanish, though not in the delightful lovely ways we see today.
The Mayan civilization - 1800 BC to AD 250. During the pre-columbia era, the Mayans held the ritual of human sacrifice. The most common method was decapitation and heart removal in the belief that offering the heart provided nourishment to the gods.
When the Aztec Empire flourished between c. 1345 and 1521 CE the heart held a central position. During the human sacrifice ceremony, the heart would be removed and raised to the sun as an offering to the gods. In the centre of the sunstone monolith (calendar stone) is the face of the solar deity, Tonatiuh, shown holding a human heart in each of his clawed hands. The altar-like stone vessel of the jaguar was used to hold the hearts of sacrificial victims.
Catholocism in Mexico The Sacred Heart is one of the most common motifs in religious folk art created in Mexico. The Spanish conquest of Mexico brought with it the Catholic religion and images such as stained glass windows and sculpted silver hearts. The devotion to the Sacred Heart is one of the most widely practiced and well-known Roman Catholic devotions.
Mexican Tin Industry- In Mexico, traditional metal working dates from the Meso-american period with metals such as gold, silver and copper. After the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire metal working went into decline, especially for gold and silver jewellery, but rose again during the colonial period. Today gold, silver, tin and copper are are used to create decorative and functional items such as jewellery, toys, and more.
Here are images of some hearts I brought back home with me.
Just back from Mexico. I love Mexico: Mexican art, Mexican colours, Mexican customs and celebrations, Mexican food. I've visited the country many times and each time I get to see something new, and see some of the same things in a different way. Mexico always surprises and delights me.
The Palacio de Bellas Artes is a prominent cultural center in Mexico City. It has hosted some of the most notable events in music, dance, theatre, opera and literature and has held important exhibitions of painting, sculpture and photography. The palace is a mixture of two architectural styles: an Art Nouveau exterior, and an Art Deco interior. And I was pleased to find out that there many Art Deco buildings and Art Nouveau buildings in Mexico City.
This exhibition included incredible images across time from ancient Egypt to contemporary artistic works. Some of the artists included were Victor Brauner, Prune Nourry, Pieter Brueghel, and Mathew Barney.
The hybrid beings created by the diverse cultures that have inhabited the planet throughout history and their role within the western imaginary of the 19th and 20th centuries are some of the topics that the temporary exhibition Hybrids addresses: the body as imaginary.
Phillip Glass loves to experiment with many types of musicians. My Mexican friend Luis was very proud to be experiencing this moment. This inspiring performance was followed by the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional.
And this was just the beginning of my ongoing explorations in Mexico City....
I have many people to thank, and I thank people often. Never underestimate the value of saying thank you. Showing gratitude and appreciation, giving credit when credit is due, and recognizing the kind and thoughtful actions of another, are all great reasons to give thanks. Whether it's in the workplace, within your community, family, or circle of friends, "thank you" goes a long way.
When we say thank you and show gratitude it makes a person happier and healthier, and increases our sense of connection with others. Receiving recognition increases our sense of self-worth and belonging, and reinforces the value of doing good things.
For these reasons I've created some thank you cards. They're great for sending to a colleague for a job well done, a family member you recently visited, a neighbour who helped you out, or a friend who was there when you needed them most.
There are six cards to choose from: You Helped Me, Your Kindness, From the Bottom of My Heart, Much Love, I'll Never Forget, and It Was Wonderful. You can get them all here.
As a thank you to you, my reader, and in celebration of International Jazz Day on April 30th, here is Lonnie Smith's version of I Want to Thank You.