The here and now... and what and why

Complacency is a trap. At least that’s what I was thinking when I up and left the comfort of a Yankee prep school gig, where I taught music, amongst other things, for 28 years. There was also that life long career as a composer, musician and artist.

First, it was a year in St. Thomas, USVI, working as a reporter and shooting photography and then, a year in San Agustin Etla, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Time passed.
More time passed and a year back in the Athens of America followed by a hasty return to Oaxaca where it is all happening.
A couple of years in San Sebastian Etla and now, just down the road in San Pablo Etla. Life is good.

Click on an image to see it larger.
For additional photography please visit my flickr page.
You can find my music on Jango (World & latin - Worldbeat) and at iTunes and most online stores.
¡Soy consciente de todas las tradiciones del Internet!
If you are coming to Oaxaca, please contact me for tours or advice.

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo
The view from Corazon del Pueblo

The hereafter re me

My photo
Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico
Musician, photographer, videographer, reporter, ex-officio teacher, now attempting to be a world traveler

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Return to Arrazola

I'll admit it.  There was a time when I was a alebrije addict.  The Oaxacan woodcarvings became an obsession, hence a house full of them, over 3000.  They led me to write two directorios, one of the carvers of La Union Tejalapam and one of San Martin Tilcajete.  I spent years in pursuit of these amazing pieces of art and made many friends as I repeatedly visited the villages.

So it was a wonderful time yesterday as we drove to Arrazola to see old friends.  My heart soared when one of the carvers, Narciso Ramirez, recognized my voice as I walked down the street and came out to greet me.  Imagine, just from my voice.  Crazy.

As we went from house to house, everyone was very gracious and we spent the afternoon basking in the warm sunshine and even warmer hospitality.

Eventually, we ended up at the house of Miguel Santiago, one of the most renown carvers.  His work is absolutely exceptional.  Here is one of my favorites.  The painting is flawless and the piece feel like it has been carved out of alabaster, it is so smooth.

Here he is a few years ago.

And now.

Miguel recalled that I had purchased two masks that were copies of ones his grandfather had carved that were very special to him.

He said he had no photos of them, so I came home and dug through the thousands of pictures on numerous hard drives and here they are.

Now to run into the city and get them printed and get them to him.  Like I needed a good excuse to return to Arrazola.


Joan said...

Well, this took me by surprise. Over 3000 alebrijes??!! How wonderful that must have been to see.

And what ever happened to the directories? It sounds like a labor of love.

I tried to find Arrazola on my map but could not. Is it very small?


Christopher Stowens said...

Yes, 3000. maybe i should post pics again of some of the best pieces, but then I would not have room to write about anything else.

Directories are selling well and available at Amate Books. I should make them available elsewhere, but... I just haven't.

Arrazola is just on the other side of Monte Alban, easy to get to - You go through Xoxo on the road that leads to Zaachila and Cuilapam, both places worth visiting. A right at the fork, there are signs, leads you to Arrazola.

Anonymous said...

I eagerly check your blog every morning. I too am a lover of Mexico and travel there several times a year. Oaxaca is my favorite city.
This year at the International folk art fair in Santa Fe New Mexico we met a folk artist from San Martin. Her name is Xochitl Fuentes Melchor. She is the daughter of Geledonio Fuentes and Isaura Melchor. They are wood carvers but she and her husband make fabulous paper mache figures. Not like the usual paper mache figures you see all over town. They are very whimsical. We can't wait to get back to Oaxaca to visit her in San Martin. Check her out .
Also we are thinking about coming to Oaxaca this Feb-we see Carnival listed as things to do but can't find any discriptions of what goes on. Do you have any info. Would love to be in town for Easter week but it is not at a good time for us this year.
Thanks for your blog

Michael Chibnik said...

Hi, Chris:

I just discovered your blog when my sister was wondering if you had done a directory of artisans from Arrazola. I'll be very interested to read through your past postings. I haven't been to Oaxaca since last February but hope to get there this summer.


Mike Chibnik

pedro santiago said...

hey christoper... i was luckin aroun in the web, and just decide to google my uncles name miguel santiago.... i got exited to see his work again almos for got how got he is... and im very gland that u enjoy in too. tks for the memories...

pedro santiago said...

i meen how good he is...