Spread the LOVE. . .

Spread the LOVE. . .
with gifts from the artisan's soul

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Greetings from Guadalajara - No.2

Our itinerary for today was to see the Guadalajara Centro Historical District which is located in downtown Guadalajara, about 20 minutes from Tlaquepaque. Our wonderful driver and tour guide 'Don Abel' takes such great care of us and makes sure we see everything and explains their significance while simultaneously making sure it is safe for us to cross the street and then rounds us all up before heading to the next stop.

Our first stop today was to the Cathedral which as you drive into the Centro you are greeted by its' amazing limestone structure, gorgeous dome, and spindles. Don Abel showed us the gorgeous Cathedral and was able to get us access to the sacristy where groups are usually not allowed, this room is where the clergy changes and so does the Pope when he visits. The most amazing part of this room is the gorgeous art from the 1600's done by some of the most famous painters from Spain including Murillo. The room is also filled with gorgeous hand-carved dressers that surround the room, it is like a small museum, filled with the incredible paintings and other stunning pieces of porcelain pottery and woodwork.

Our second stop was to the 'Palacio Gobierno' to view the famous Orozco mural of the famous priest, Miguel Hidalgo, the Father of Mexican Independance. He holds a torch light in his fist. After so many years, it continues to be a beckon or warning. The magnitude of this mural is amazing, it is on the ceiling of a section of the building where you walk upstairs a limestone staircase. The murals are dark but somehow simultaneously moving once you learn what he trying to depict.

Our next stop was to Teatro Degollado, the Opera House, which as you approach is a stunning building of grandeur made of limestone whose pillars greet you as you approach, when you enter there is a lovely foyer of marble floors, and beautiful crystal chandeliers. We unfortunately could not go inside as they were practicing but we were able to hear the orcheastra practicing, quite a treat. We walked behind the Opera House where a modern bronze frieze 'Frisa de Los Fundadores, decorates the back side. This 68 ft. sculpture depicts Guadalajara's co-founders facing each other on opposite sides of a big tree.

Our next stop which by far I think was one of the most memorable was to the Hospicios Cabanas, this domed neoclassic colonial building was designed and financed by Bishop Juan Ruiz de Cabanas, the purpose of the 'Guadalajara House of Charity and Mercy' was to be a home for a sick, helpless, and homeless. It served as an orphanage during the 70's but the building needed to be restored so they moved the orphanage into the suburbs, restored the building and changed its purpose. It now houses the 'Institudo Cultural Cabanas' a center for the arts. The inside houses one of Jose Clemente Orozco's famous murals- his work could be described as dark, fiery, apocalyptic. Orozco painted the famous mural in the chapel from 1938-1939 where the central dome his 'Man of Fire is wreathed in flame, and appears to soar into a hellishly red-hot sky. His murals depict his concept of Evolution and Revolution and contain many optical illusions. Our guide, Ernesto, explained every panel in great detail and made sure we saw all of the optical illusions, which were not discovered until the 60's. Although very dark the murals are captivating, especially once you understand his thought process.

We strolled through the Plaza Tapatia and then headed to the Mercado Libertad which was built in 1958 and is the largest market in Mexico. After finding some great buys in the mercado we headed out to the Vallarta area to have a comida at one of the favorite restaurants in Guadalajra, 'El Sacromonte' where the charming spanish building greets you and the festive decor and piano music invite you to enjoy a long lunch - which we did. Everyone enjoyed the unique strawberry quesadillas and sangrita.

After a long day of touring everyone was ready for a siesta and then we enjoyed a relaxing dinner at Quinta Don Jose's Mexican & Italian restaurant 'TlaquePasta'.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Greetings from Guadalajara - No.1

We started our first day of our Aesthetyx Experience with an excursion to the talleres (workshops) of Tonala, an area outside of Guadalajara famous for all of its' workshops and factories that hand-craft everything from pottery to iron, hand-blown glass, furniture, and more! Our first stop was to see the Salazar family who has been creating beautiful hand-blown glass for the past 30 years and primarily using recycled glass to do so. Everyone was amazed at the process of how they take molten glass and shape it into everything from glasses to large esferas (spheres) while working in extremely hot temperatures. After viewing the process for themselves our group had a much higher appreciation for the products that they purchased in their store next door.

Our second stop was to visit the famous Ortega Family who are renowned for their 100% hand-crafted 'betus' technique using simple 'barro' (clay) to create the most colorful, whimsical, surreal art of imagination. This technique has been passed to 5 generations of the Ortega family, 2 of which currently run the operation - the older 'hermano' (brother) Gerardo is the 'Gerente General' and then the other brothers Oscar and Eleutario oversee production and painting. The sons, daughters, nephews, and nieces who range in age of 16-30 work in production, design, and painting. It is truly a family operation. Their home in Santa Cruz de las Huertas is one in same their taller. We were immediately greeted by a small 'perro' (dog) and then once we walked through the casa were greeted by another dog and a very boisterous 'pato' (duck) who really wanted some attention! Everyone marvelled in the process which they showed us started from the fine clay powder which they mix with water to create the clay which ends up a very dark brown color, then they mold all of the individual pieces needed to create a design and then piece them together, then the design is left to dry in the sun for 2 days, then they paint the designs and finally fire them in the kiln. We were fortunate to view the sons and nephews all sitting at a table painting everything from 'gallos' (roosters) to 'sirenas' (chickens), everyone left with a piece of Ortega to take back home.

Our last stop was to visit the Jimon Family whose work is featured in the book 'Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art'. This family has passed down the art form of 'brunido' (burnished) pottery down 5 generations and we were so fortunate to meet 3 of them on our visit. Agustin Jimon's grandparents started the family tradition and Agustin who is most likely in his 80's now has passed this tradition to his sons Florentino and Zacarias who now primarily make most of the pottery, Agustin still molds the clay into forms. The Jimons work with natural clay which they mold into everything from plates to gourd shapes to bells, ornaments, large pots, and much more. Their gorgeous hand-painted designs are done in beautiful neutral colors which feature everything from birds, fish, suns, and small snapshots of local life. We have carried their charming Christmas ornaments and bells in our store and will continue to do so this holiday season.

After a great morning of meeting amazing artisans we were very hungry and headed to lunch at our favorite restaurant in Tonala 'El Arandense' who specialize in 'mariscos' (seafood) and our favorite thing being their 'coctel camaron' (shrimp cocktail) which is very different than the shrimp cocktail we are used to in the states - it is muy delicioso! After satisfying our hunger we strolled through the shops in Tonala and then headed back to our B&B for a margarita and to get ready for dinner.

After cocktails at the bar we strolled 2 blocks to town for dinner at one of our favorite spots - Fonda Adobe, a restaurant with a menu not to dissappoint including Tuna Tacos Al Pastor to great Filets to a delicious Cinnamon Mole Chicken. Fonda Adobe is also attached to Adobe Diseno, one of the most innovative and dynamic stores in Tlaquepaque owned by creative visionary Martha Figueroa and David Luna.