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  • Celebrations Decembrinas, a Mexican Christmas

    Ezequiel Ruiz: As I said in an earlier article in this magazine, life always brings very good surprises. This was true when I went to Mexico City to meet with my family to celebrate the Christmas holidays.

    As soon as I arrived there Thursday, December 19, I was invited to go with family to Veracruz. I agreed. I went with my two nephews and friends. Eventually we arrived at my nephew's cousins' house in Veracruz. There again, we were invited to a graduation party. I was looking forward to it because I had not been to a party in Veracruz before. This promised to be a great opportunity to broaden my experience since each state of Mexico could be a country unto itself for its diversity of people and customs.

    Really though I have to say that the party itself, in terms of clebrations was not so different from how we celebrate at parties in Mexico City. But the food was.

    Read and see more at Lokkal: Celebrations Decembrinas, a Mexican Christmas. More #Lokkal.

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  • Chanukah Miracle in San Miguel

    Carole Stone: The room throbbed with excitement. Children were scattered everywhere – some in a circle playing dreidl, a game played with a spinning top; others were playing tag in the patio; still others were hanging on to their parents' legs or snuggled in their arms. Teens were conspiring in the patio corner. Such was this year's Chanukah party, attended by 100 people, at the JC3 here in San Miguel.

    We gorge on latkes, the traditional potato pancakes that are so delicious served with a topping of applesauce or sour cream. Guests are encouraged to bring a dish – a salad, dip or whatever – to share. We wound up with two long tables filled with all sorts of vegetarian dishes. The food was fabulous – my favorite part.

    We lit our nine-branched menorahs (candelabras) at sunset. The room filled with the light from those many tiny, brightly-colored candles as we sung the blessing in Hebrew, "Blessed are You, our Sovereign, Who has sanctified us by Your commandments and commanded us to light these Chanukah candles."

    Read and see more at Lokkal: Chanukah Miracle in San Miguel. More #Lokkal.

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  • Traditional Mexican Christmas, Then and Now

    Ezequiel Ruiz: Childhood is a magical time. Life was bigger and brighter then. To speak about Posadas today is to compare them to the Posadas of my childhood memory. Maybe that is not a fair comparison, but then we learn as adults, don't we, that life itself is not always fair.

    To speak about Posadas today is to talk about change. Time has passed. Something is different now in this 2019. The people of my generation can notice those changes in the Posadas.

    I don't want to say that the Posadas of my time were better than now because I am aware that each generation lives things differently. Still, the Posadas of my childhood were richer in tradition.

    Read and see more at Lokkal: Traditional Mexican Christmas, Then and Now. More #Lokkal.

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  • Behind a Sculpture Cast in Molten Glass

    Paul Louis: Ana Thiel is one of few artists in Mexico to have her own glass melting furnace. Imagine a great vat that contains over 200 kg of molten glass at 1250°C. Glassblowers are relatively famous. Yet artists that work with cast glass are mostly unknown. They are rare. Bertil Vallien, Swedish; Koen Vanderstukken, Belgian, have, along with Ana, the highest profile.



    "I like the ability of glass to bring light into the sculpture, its optics as it works with the form within but also with the environment, bringing in the surrounding images and movement, that it can suspend color and air as well as floating forms. Glass is almost four dimensional for it not only has height, width and depth, it has transparency." - Ana

    Ana is hosting an open studio this coming Sunday, the 15th of December, 1-5pm.
    This is an opportunity to visit the studio and take a peek behind the scenes.
    See the glowing magic of the molten glass sculptures that she creates.
    Ana Thiel's Studio is located at Colegio Militar #1, Colonia Guadalupe.

    Read and see more at Lokkal: Behind a Sculpture Cast in Molten Glass. More #Lokkal.

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  • Padre, Madre, Awesome

    Ezequiel Ruiz: The other day a student asked me what "¡Que padre!" means. I replied that there is no translation. It is a colloquial expression. In this case what is translated depends on the intention of the speaker. The expression implies an emotion of amazement. Its equivalent in English might be "great" or "awesome." It depends on the degree of emotion in the expression.

    "¡Que padre!" translates literally as "that father." Perhaps in quest of sexual equality, this led my student to ask, "The word "madre" ("mother") is not used for these important exclamations? I answered, "It is used, but again it is a highly colloquial, slang expression." The expression "A toda madre" ("To every mother"), in fact, implies much more emotion than "¡Que padre!" I went on to emphasize that these expressions are very informal. They are not used by all people in all stratas of society. Generally they are the parlance of young people, but you can also hear them from some adults.

    To clarify this I offer some examples ...

    Read and see more at Lokkal: Padre, Madre, Awesome. More #Lokkal.

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  • A Psycho Thanksgiving

    Jeff Apton: Our annual Thanksgiving dinner is the time new people get introduced into our family fold. When my sister Robin welcomes that latest victim she always finds a way to share one story from our childhood. We agree on events as I share them with you below. But then Robin adds her own shocking" climax. Who do you believe?

    The summer of 1960 was a scorcher. The sidewalks of Brooklyn shimmered. I had nothing to do. My friends were away at camp, or kidnapped for family vacations to crappy theme hotels with names like Santa Claus Village. I was too bored to read, watch television, or even think. But that morning, my eyes were bright. I was walking upright again. Finally, I had something to do. Psycho had finally arrived at our neighborhood grindhouse.

    In June of 1960 Hitchcock's masterpiece opened to packed movie houses. It is impossible to overestimate the impact of that film on a nation preparing for a hot, sweaty summer. No American would close a shower curtain again without a visceral twinge of fear and a quick scan of the bathroom.

    Read and see more at Lokkal: A Psycho Thanksgiving. More #Lokkal.

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  • Isabelle Mahnes' Spectacle of Fashion

    Isabelle: "I started making clothes when I was a little girl, making my party clothes. In Mexico at those times there was not so much fashion. I identified myself by how I dressed up. It was fun to dress up as characters."

    "I went to a technical school to learn how to sew, because I know I wanted to work in the studio, actually making the clothes, not just designing from afar."

    "I went to Parsons [School of Design] in New York City where I had great teachers who really inspired me. I learned to follow my own path, to make my own language. I am working with my own being through the process of creation itself."

    "My personal life and sewing are intertwined as part of my identity, who I am in relation to the world and what the world is becoming and how I perceive it."

    Read and see more at Lokkal: Isabelle Mahnes' Spectacle of Fashion. More #Lokkal.

    Show/Performance/Sale
    Thursday, November 21, 4:30-8pm, Mixta, Pila Seca 3, $180, including catering

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  • Rice and Beans

    Duke Miller: B. Traven, George Gershwin, and the demented woman whisper into my ear, "Tell the story. Please."
    "Certainly, I'm just the man for it. Ni modo."

    I love to eat rice and beans, it makes me feel like a worker in the fields, the ones with the straw hats and sandals. The ones who careen between sullen looks and loud laughter. The ones who drink too much and are proud beyond recognition. They are bent over with account books pressing down upon their backs. They have few choices in life due to the giant non-stop metal wheels that grind up the countryside and eviscerate the cities. Broken bones and scars are the story of politics and servitude and company stores.

    B. Traven knew all of this. He felt these images like cuts dripping blood into the soil, like flesh dropped into a hole. He knew the significance of how the human body fertilizes the ground in order for plants to grown. Death, sickness, and malnourishment are often the bounty of unfair, low paid work. The poor stumble and fall. The pain wraps around the world thousands of times, each vertebra and tibia, each twisted smile, all connected like a string of stolen pearls. The story of the oppressed is usually lost on the rich. They have a tendency to overlook the overarching theme of how the world has been built.

    Continue reading at Lokkal: Rice and Beans. More #Lokkal.

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  • VW, Why Do I Photograph You?

    Scott Umstattd: The Volkswagen Type 1 has a lot of nicknames: Bug, Beetle, Ladybug, Bubble, Frog, Hunchback, Turtle, Vocho, Flea and, for some reason, in the Domincan Republic, Ice Shaver.

    The Bug has wonderfully infested our entire planet and has adapted to every environment it has been put in. People everywhere love their Herbies.

    I'm tempted to give up and say that I don't know why I keep taking pictures of Beetles, but I think I have it figured out.

    It must be the curves. No other car has embraced the curve like the Bubble. It’s the curves that attract my eye.. It’s the curves that make Vocho photos pleasing to the eye. Following the curves your eyes easily flow across the canvas (or the screen). It was made to be photographed. And, I concede, driven.

    Continue reading and take a look at the amazing photos at Lokkal: VW, Why Do I Photograph You? More #Lokkal.

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  • Un Brindis / A Toast

    Anne Boone Johnson: I was staying in a 300-year-old hacienda, now an inn owned by a friend of mine, in a room next door to a couple from Guadalajara and their two girls, ages eight and ten. I'd joined the family in the patio when the young girls suddenly shouted, "Es una callejoneada," hearing the music of the approaching wedding procession before I did.

    As the chicas raced toward the intricate wrought-iron gate separating the patio from the cobblestone street, their enthusiasm was contagious. Although over the years I had seen quite a few joyous callejoneadas unique to the state of Guanajuato –and particularly popular in San Miguel with its beautiful Parroquia– I ran after them.

    The heavy gate clanged shut behind us. Just in time we arrived to see a burro festooned with colorful flowers approaching, two bottles of tequila hanging from either side, leading the celebratory procession. Following immediately behind was a mariachi band in sombreros and black suits studded with metallic silver. Their lively music seemed to reverberate from the colonial stone walls up to the heavens. The band was followed in turn by two mojigangas, giant paper maché dolls dressed as a bride and groom that gaily danced and nimbly whirled about, the "groom" flinging his fake arms wildly.

    Continue reading at Lokkal: Un Brindis / A Toast. More #Lokkal.

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  • Revolution On The Walls

    Alberto Lenz: Around the Mexican Revolution of 1910, and in the following 30 years after it, a feverish intellectual movement emerged in Mexico that sought to transform the country's arts and culture, in pursuit of a new national identity.

    Possibly, the most important product of this cultural upheaval was the public art movement known as "Mexican Muralism," and nothing can be written about the Mexican muralism without mentioning José Vasconcelos, a key inspirational figure. ...

    But perhaps the most ambitious policy of Vasconcelos was that of commissioning young Mexican artists to paint murals on the walls of some important public buildings in Mexico City. In a country with a huge sector of illiterate population, the impulse that Vasconcelos gave to muralism was with the intention of visually transmitting the ideals and objectives of the Mexican Revolution.

    Read and see more at Lokkal: Revolution On The Walls. More #Lokkal.

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  • What I Didn't Know I Would Invent

    Lokkal: Carola Polakov was born in Buenos Aires. When she was 5 years old the family moved to London and later to Barcelona. It was in that vibrant Spanish city, in the era of rebellion and creative explosion in the Spain of Franco, that Carola started her career as fashion designer.

    "Everything I know I've taught myself... and what I didn't know how to do I would invent. I never had a formal education in design, pattern-making or photography, but I was really hard-headed as a kid. If I wanted to make something, I used my ingenuity and found a way to make it. I made my first dress when I was nine.

    "I started designing when I was 19. A friend and I wanted to go to India. So we thought, what can we do to make enough money to get there. We started designing and manufacturing items. She was making shoes. I was making belts and bags and eventually clothes. This was in the late sixties. Spain was very isolated from the rest of Europe and fashion design was practically non existent and very conventional. I traveled to London, Paris and Italy, returning with with inspiration and ideas. Manufacturers repeatedly told me, at first, that what I wanted could not be done because it was out of the norm. But at my insistence they did it. ...

    The upcoming show is in atelier of the very talented painter Lola Pico. There you can see her work as well as sculptures by Lisette Aguilar. Carola will be showing photos of peonies, dandelions and strangely distorted street scenes taken through wavy glass.

    Read and see more at Lokkal: What I Didn't Know I Would Invent. More #Lokkal.

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  • Unicorns are My Spirit Animal

    Jessica Antonelli: Take a stroll through a back alley of San Miguel de Allende with us to visit Sofie Engström von Alten, a traveling illustrator who nows calls SMA home.

    Sofie has been on the road since 2010, where a trip across the pond to live in Europe evolved into artist residencies traveling east through Morocco, Turkey, and India. Sofie is known for illustrating a travel zine everywhere she travels and has created a beautiful San Miguel de Allende coloring book.

    Sofie's creative take on life is reflected in the way she expresses herself, down to the business cards she hands out.

    Read and see more at Lokkal: Unicorns are My Spirit Animal. More #Lokkal.

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  • Weaving a Pattern of Mastery

    Colette Morya: Mexican textile art has centuries of history. Looms appear in Nahuatl codices. Mayan culture has been turning ribbons and wool yarns into ancestral crafts since prehistory. Textile production is a laborious process that is transmitted from generation to generation. The weaving style varies according to the region of Mexico and its traditions.

    Some years ago, I encountered this art for the first time in Teotitlán del Valle, in Oaxaca. In that place, artisans open the doors of their workshop to show the development of that region's traditional rugs. On more than one occasion I had the opportunity to marvel at the concentration and dexterity of a true Zapotec weaver. For me it was almost impossible to imagine how to coordinate the order of the threads to form the figures. Difficult as it was, still I was curious to learn. I found just watching the process very comforting. Perhaps a little relief from my obsessive-compulsive side would not hurt me. Repetitiveness is always very relaxing.



    Read and see more at Lokkal: Weaving a Pattern of Mastery. More #Lokkal.

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  • Jane Dill's Art Class

    Jessica Antonelli: In a city known for it's rustic textures and rich colors, there lives an art instructor who invites inspiring creatives to play with these artistic elements. Jane Dill is a much-loved art teacher in San Miguel de Allende, who has been offering classes at the Galeria San Francisco for years.

    Classically trained as a calligrapher and lettering artist, Jane worked commercially with designers for 30 years, creating logos, branding and identity for national brands, restaurants and wine labels. Since moving to San Miguel, Jane has concentrated more on her fine art and teaching. She has been represented by the Galeria San Francisco for five years.

    In this video, we take a sneak-peek into her classroom at the beautiful Fabrica la Aurora to see art-making in action at Jane's Abstract Painting with Texture (1-day) class.

    Read and see more at Lokkal: Jane Dill's Art Class. More #Lokkal.

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  • Spotlight on Muros en Blanco

    Jessica Antonelli interviews Colleen Sorenson.

    In a city known for its art and thriving cultural scene, the Arts District of San Miguel is an especially significant center of local and international street art. Here, contemporary local and global street artists showcase their talents in a medium Mexico has always championed, the mural.

    In this interview, Colleen Sorenson, a founder of the SMA Arts District, shares the story of how this beloved part of town came to be.

    Continue reading and view the video of the interview at Spotlight on Muros en Blanco. More #Lokkal.

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  • Interview: Betty Edwards Author of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

    Jessica Antonelli interviews Betty Edwards: If you wish you were more creative, this conversation is for you.

    Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is the number one drawing instructional book used in the world. Published 40 years ago, it revolutionized the way we think about learning to draw, by incorporating the then nascent field of neuroscience into arts education.

    Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain has been translated into 13 languages and has sold over 3 million copies.

    Today, San Miguel Sunday Arts is privileged speak with Betty Edwards artist and best-selling author of this fabulous book. We speak with Betty about her thoughts on creativity, learning to draw, its big-picture effects on society, the process of writing, and more.

    Continue reading and view the video of the interview at Interview: Betty Edwards Author of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. More #Lokkal.

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  • Art is the Heart of San Miguel by Jessica Antonelli

    Mine is one of those many San Miguel de Allende whirlwind romances. The colors, light, textures and culture sparkled for me like the fireworks that seemingly went on every evening. Within six months of my first visit, I decided to move here. Within a year, I was offering drawing classes. Five years later I still am. ...

    So, recently I found myself wondering, how can I publicize my classes and also my new online course, DrawSanMiguel.com ? ...

    Here is our first offering, a drawing lesson I gave at the base of La Huerta, the gigantic tree just outside San Miguel.



    Read more at Lokkal Art is the Heart of San Miguel by Jessica Antonelli. More #Lokkal.

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  • Working Without A Net

    Pam Walters: Not everyone is faced with the challenge to start over relying only on faith.

    There's an image I remember of a person inching his way out onto the limb of a tree. The limb got narrower; the risk of falling got greater. But there's this big, juicy peach hanging off the farthest tip of the branch. The guy was willing to go out on a limb to capture the peach – his goal was in sight.

    But what about if there is no peach, no prize? And let's say that all you know is that the tree is dying. It's coming apart at the seams. You can't go back. So you keep moving away from what you used to know as the security of the tree. Then something snaps, and you're free falling.

    That's what it felt like when I decided to leave the States and my husband behind.

    Continue reading at Lokkal Working Without A Net by Pam Walters. More #Lokkal.

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  • Treasures of the Otomi Pueblo

    Glen Rogers: So when I was asked by Mexico City curator, Maximiliano Grego to represent Otomi women and their tradition of stamping their tortillas for a group exhibition, Poeticas del Arte Contemporaneo, I was pleased to participate. Each artist was given a theme. Because the show was to be in Dolores Hidalgo, he wanted the indigenous tribe of the Otomi to be represented. Combining the figure and the circular symbol, a tortilla stamp, seemed like a perfect fit for me. I just happened to have a double-sided Otomi tortilla stamp hanging on my studio wall which I was able to incorporate into the piece.

    As I was making a preliminary charcoal drawing for the painting, I held an image in my mind's eye of a woman at the hearth. It's an ancient universal vision that transcends local culture and is found in every corner of the world. Women cooking at the heart of the home or working over a communal fire is a traditional theme. She, as giver of life, provides strength and cohesiveness to the family and the community in many ways. In Los Tesoros del Pueblo, her arms encircle an offering of sustenance and healing. In Mexico, tortillas, central to each meal, remain a treasure of the culture.

    For details on the exhibition and the entire article, continue reading at Lokkal Treasures of the Otomi Pueblo by Glen Rogers. More #Lokkal.

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  • A Hotshot Photographer

    Pam Walters: I have to admit that when I first contacted local photographer Jon Welsh for an interview, I intended to have some fun with him, at his expense. Jon frequently posts photos on SMA’s Civil List. These shots, taken on his morning strolls, are of facades of buildings: doors, windows, the occasional tree or flowering plant that might be affixed to a building. The images are exquisite.

    But here’s the thing, the thumbnail photo of him that identifies his posts is… well… of a gorgeous older guy with a smoldering look on his face. Be still my heart. Then I noticed that I wasn’t the only female bewitched by his photography and his picture. It seems that 90% of his followers are women oohing and aahing over the images. I thought of the old “hot photographer” syndrome.

    The chip on my shoulder about photographers dates back to my early years as an ad agency creative director. Back then creative people worked in teams. I was the copywriter. Copywriters were primarily female and dressed conservatively. Copywriters were partnered with an art director. This role was usually played by a guy. We’d collaborate on most aspects of TV and print production, but the copywriter usually took the lead when it came to music, and the art director was in charge of visuals – including working with photographers.

    Continue reading at Lokkal A Hotshot Photographer by Pam Walters. More #Lokkal.

    If you are a member of the San Miguel de Allende Civil List Facebook group, you can see some of Jon Welsh's photos there in this Facebook search: Jon Welsh.

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  • Building Bridges, Not Walls by Jessica Espinoza

    Bilingual Youth Theater. The performance will be free to the public on Friday, July 19 at 1 pm at the San Miguel Playhouse.



    Last summer DreamBox Theatre was in the process of launching their first program in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. When the San Miguel Playhouse, which also promotes bilingual theater, in that a lot of their productions have supertitles, learned of DreamBox's plans to bring bilingual theater to Mexican youth, they got very excited. In addition to providing DreamBox with a performance venue, their board started a scholarship program for Mexican children where Playhouse donors could sponsor a child to attend the program.

    It was such a successful partnership that the San Miguel Playhouse was eager to do it again this summer, providing the venue, orchestrating the scholarship / sponsorship program, helping DreamBox line up resources when producing a show in only 5 days. ...

    DreamBox Theatre is getting ready to embark on its second summer of offering this program. This month they will be producing Mago de Oz, an original bilingual Latin adaptation of the Wizard of Oz story. The playwright, an elementary teacher in Spanish Harlem, NYC, was inspired last summer by the enchantment she felt in the city of San Miguel de Allende. She integrated all of this into the adaptation.


    Read more at Lokkal Building Bridges, Not Walls by Jessica Espinoza. More #Lokkal.

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  • Poker Faces by Ann Marie Jackson

    "That's so rude!" exclaims my seven-year-old son as the bull's body slams into the ground. The powerful animal lies unnaturally still, stretched taut by one lariat around his horns and another around his hind legs. The other end of each rope is in the hands of an expert cowboy, wound firmly around the pommel of his saddle. Each cowboy sits astride a beautiful horse with practiced ease, looking like perfectly cast extras in a Marlboro commercial from the late eighties. Next to my son, our friend Sam chuckles at his indignation.

    "Yes, how rude,” Sam agrees. "But you know, the bull is going to be fine, I promise. I know these cowboys, and these bulls are really like their pets. They don't want to hurt their pets."
    "Really?" asks Tristan, clearly unconvinced.

    Continue reading in Lokkal, Poker Faces by Ann Marie Jackson. More #Lokkal.

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  • Photographing Parades, Tips From SMA

    With the Los Locos parade coming up, a lot of people may be out with their cameras or smart phones with the plan, or hope, of capturing some nice pics.

    Digital photography makes it easy to take lots of pictures and sometimes get lucky with a few good shots. Sometimes I take some pretty good photographs. But, it usually involves lots of pictures and lots of luck.

    Here is some practical photography advice from Scott Umstattd via Lokkal: Photographing Parades, Tips From SMA. Like our forums rules, he starts off with

    1. Be nice.

    But quickly gets into more meaty, but mostly simple, suggestions about backgrounds, light, both eyes open, using corners, shutter speed, getting into the street and more. Most of the advice applies no matter what type of camera you are using. If you want to up your parade photo game, this is definitely worth a read.

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Expat and immigrant English language resources and community for San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. Visitors to this site may browse.

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