2018 Exhibitions

It looks like this summer will be busy with numerous exhibitions and shows.  First on tap is the Colorado Watercolor Society 2018 juried exhibition.  This year the show was juried by Robbie Laird, NWS.  Robbie is currently the president of the National Watercolor Society.

My entry, “Break in the Clouds, Nicaragua,” was accepted for exhibition.  This painting is available for purchase through this link.

Colorado Watercolor Society
2018 STATE WATERCOLOR EXHIBITION
May 12 to June 27, 2018
Library 21c, Pikes Peak Library District, 1175 Chapel Hills Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80920
Opening & Reception May 12, 2PM-5PM
Juror: Robbie Laird

Break in the Clouds (1)

“Break in the Clouds, Nicaragua” watercolor by Cheri Isgreen; framed size 20″ x 16″ $350

To learn more about this painting, visit this link

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Queretaro

Santiago de Queretaro es una cuidad con mucha historia, cultura, y belleza…

Three days in Santiago de Queretaro, the capital city of Queretaro, is not enough time to experience all its history, culture, and beauty. A Unesco World Heritage site, the city central remains a pristine jewel of Baroque and neoclassical structures, with world class music in a variety of styles heard on every plaza and jardin, masterful handicrafts, and gardens tastefully landscaped with jaw-dropping tropical flowers. Known by the 17th Century as the “Pearl of the Bajio,” S de Queretaro continues to flourish to this day. It is recognized as having the highest quality of living and is the safest city in all Mexico.

Like Dolores Hidalgo, Queretaro boasts a historic role in Mexico’s struggle for independence. Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez, wife of Queretaro’s Mayor in the early 1800’s, is revered as the Mother of Independence. Using her prominent position and influence to gather intelligence, her home was used to plan and support the insurgency which resulted in Hidalgo’s “el Grito,” cry for independence in Dolores Hidalgo, launching Mexico’s struggle for independence against Spain.

Each city block contains mostly restored and preserved Colonial buildings and churches, each grander than the last. The main streets, along with the andadoras, (pedestrian walkways), are lined with plazas, gardens, fountains, open-air cafes, street artists, and musicians in colorful arrays of rich culture to saturate one’s senses.

Ink drawing

San Luis Potosí

Last night we returned from a weekend in the colonial city and capital seat of San Luis Potosí. Founded in 1592, El Centro abounds with stunning architecture in a variety of styles including Moorish domes, ornate Baroque, and stately neo-classical, (to name just a few). Named a Unesco World Heritage site, the city appeals to both visitors’ and citizens’ aesthetic senses. El Teatro de Paz, a palatial neoclassical period theater, seats 1200 patrons. World-class museums abound, including Museo de la Mascara, a three story, fully restored Baroque government building, exhibiting masks from around the world. Lavish cathedrals, encircled by manicured gardens, elegant plazas, and tinkling fountains dot each city block . La Calzada de Guadalupe, a tree-lined pedestrian boulevard, leads the faithful from El Centro to the Basilica de Nuestra Senora Guadalupe. Music is celebrated throughout the streets. We were treated to open air opera arias, Latin jazz fusion, Chicago blues with a Mexican twist, a kids’ percussion band complete with homemade instruments, and traditional Mexican music. The International Chocolate festival, running the weekend we visited, featured some of the best chocolate I have ever eaten, along with beautiful chocolate sculptures and displays, all housed in a sumptuous neoclassical edifice from the 1800’s.

A weekend in the city of San Luis Potosí is not nearly enough time to explore all the city has to offer. We are already planning a return trip next year.

Plaza Aranzazu; ink drawing

Check out this travel guide with photos: San Luis Potosí

Dolores Hildalgo, Guanajuato

La cuna de la independencia………..the cradle of Mexican independence

We spent last weekend in Dolores Hildalgo, where the Mexican struggle for independence began. Our hotel room overlooked the Gran Jardin de Independencia Plaza Principal and the famous church, Nuestra Senora de los Dolores. It was on the steps of this church that Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costello uttered his famous cry for independence on September 16, 1810, sparking the beginning of Mexico’s struggle for independence. Known as el Grito de Dolores, each Mexican president reenacts the cry on the eve of Independence Day. Benito Juarez later declared the plaza be dedicated to Father Hidalgo. Around 10PM Sunday night, a multimedia presentation was projected on the facade of the church. With our balcony, we had the “best seats in the house!”

We visited many historical sites and museums. Dolores Hidalgo ciudadanos are justifiably proud of their city. To share the history, all museums are free. The city is also well known for its colorful Talavera ceramics- both blueware & polychrome. We bought several pieces for the kitchen and patio.

Ink drawing of the park: my inspiration was to capture the variety of interesting Mexican trees. I couldn’t find anyone to tell me the name of the tall cypress-looking trees. In Mexico, one sees a vast variety of topiary. Drawing the spiral shape was interesting.

Tomorrow we leave for San Luis Potosí. Up early, we will catch a bus to Leon at 8AM, then get a second bus to SLP, arriving around 2PM.

Guanajuato Color

The city of Guanajuato is a Unesco World Heritage site, named for its opulent Baroque and Neoclassical buildings, elegant plazas, and abundant theaters, museums, and galleries. Over and above, (quite literally) the rich heritage in Zona Central Historical, the city’s innate expression of color manifests itself in vibrant markets and neighborhoods. The city sits in a “valley bowl” with bright houses crammed into the steep slopes, ringing the city, and coloring the hillsides.

“Guanajuato Color” watercolor 16″ x 20″ $350

Mexican love of color is expressed everywhere from folk arts, to charming business signs and posters, to flower-filled balconies overlooking every street and callejon. (Stay tuned…….I have a post planned for this theme. Today is Valentines Day. Our landlady just gave us a most charming invitation to her restaurant for a special dinner and musical evening. “Musica Francesa” will feature French cafe-style music, in the vein of Edith Piaffe, one of my favorite singers. Our reservation is for 7:30).

Museo & Casa de Olga Costa & Jose Chavez Morado

Today we visited the Museo de Olga Costa-Jose Chavez Morado. Artists Costa & Chavez Morado shared a partnership of art and marriage. The museum is Costa and Chavez Morado’s former home and studio, which they donated to the city of Guanajuato, along with their art collection. On display is a rich collection of ceramics, (both pre-Hispanic and 20th Century local talavera), furniture, masks, textiles, and their own artworks. Across the courtyard, exhibitions of rotating contemporary art is shown. Learn more: Olga Costa & Jose Chavez Morado

To find the museum, one walks along the picturesque Rio Pastita, which parallels Calle Pastita in the Pastita Bario. Along the route is the old Colonial-era aqueduct. Costa and Chavez Morado converted a massive old well into their home and studio. Based on the shape of the back walls, I imagine the artists removed the original back part of the well to build additional walls and enlarge their living/studio space. This back area opens to lovely gardens and a spacious courtyard.

Ink drawing: old well beautifully converted to artists’ home & section of old aqueduct

A Sampling of Guanajuato Lamp Posts

Los postes de la lampera son en el estillo de Beaux Arts.

During Mexico’s Porfiriato period, the arts blossomed. Under Diaz, Guanajuato became known as the Paris of the New World. In Guanajuato, neoclassical architecture and ornamentation abound, as seen at Hildalgo market, Teatro Juarez, and Plaza de la Paz, among numerous other sites throughout the city. Along with the neoclassical architecture came corresponding ornamentation, including monuments, park benches, and street lights, all in the Beaux Arts style. A very good explanation of Porfirio Diaz, architecture, and the Beaux Arts can be found here: Porfiriato Architecture

Dragon lamp posts found in the small park on Paseo de la Presa just below the large park, Olla de la Presa.

Beaux Arts architecture and ornamentation is characterized by formal design and elaborate ornamentation. This is clearly seen in the surviving lamp posts found throughout Centro Historico, which appear in abundance with much diversity within the genre. Illustrated in ink are four different varieties.

Two examples found on Calle Cantarrana, (Singing Frog Street): wall mounted lamp post shows corresponding neoclassical architecture. Free standing lamp post has the same design elements as the dragon street light; it is easily seen how elements are varied to create the different themes.

In the preview illustration, one sees the deep sculptural relief of the cast iron on this very typical Guanajuato street lamp.

Last year I came across delightful street lamps in Tonala, Mexico fashioned after bees! See them here: Street Lights of Tonala

Enjoy Vidur Sahdev’s lovely poem: “Light a lamp for yourself tonight…”

Colorful Staircase: Escalera Colorida en Plazuela de San Roque

Wandering around the city of Guanajuato, we passed this charming casa. On a faded ceramic plaque, we were barely able to discern that this was the home of “Los Juglares,” the jugglers en la Calle Cantaritos. La casa faces the small plaza, Plazuela de San Roque. (Saint Roch is a French Catholic saint, who is invoked to guard against plague.). My Spanish dictionary does not define, “cantaritos,” though an internet search gives many entries. Cantaritos is a tequila drink, close cousin to a margarita.

Red geraniums in bright blue pots shout, “bienvenido!” Watercolor & Ink

As best as I can see, the jugglers were honored by the city of Guanajuato for 35 years of artistic performance and presented the plaque in August by the municipal “president,” Dr. Eduardo Romero Hicks.

A Winter’s Visit to Guanajuato, Mexico

Subimos un callejon y encontramos una panaderia anticuada…

On Sunday, January 14, 2018 we landed in Guadalajara airport, found a taxi to Ajijic, and met friends from Colorado. Our reservation for our casita in Guanajuato would begin on Tuesday, so we had a full day to explore some of the villages along Lake Chapalla. Lake Chapalla is the largest lake in Mexico; along its shores are many small villages- each specializing in an industry: berries, woodwork, etc. Ajijic is a popular destination for expats from the US, particularly retirees living on a fixed income.

Tuesday morning, after much map studying, we set off in our friend’s rented car to Guanajuato. Despite all our map studying, we still needed the phone GPS to navigate the roads whose ancient origins create confusion for foreign drivers. We arrived safely, unpacked, and headed out to explore our new neighborhood.

Guanajuato is a beautiful Baroque city, with a population of three quarters of a million people. It is know for its beautiful architecture, winding pedestrian-friendly streets, and a wealth of cultural offerings: museums, art, rich traditions of handicrafts, three theaters, (including the international Cervantes festival), music, & dance. Though many people visit Guanajuato each year, it does not cater to tourists. There are few panhandlers & aggressive vendors selling tourist trinkets. Living here, one gets a true sense of Mexican life. Not much English is spoken here; is is fun to test my Spanish skills. (I have been studying every day since visiting Guanajuato last year. After spending just 5 days here last year, having 6 weeks and my own casita is heaven!)

With our friends from Ajijic in the casita next door, we spent a few days wandering, sightseeing, visiting museums, sampling restaurants, and shopping. When they left, it was time to truly settle in. We did laundry, stocked up on sundries at the Mega, scoped out the local markets, and did lots of exploring. We rearranged our casita, made room for our art supplies and groceries, and I cooked my first meal in Mexico.

We are learning how to navigate a city that has no grid- just a spider web of streets and callejones- narrow alleys that quickly become staircases- they are everywhere!  We’ve been brave, taking lots of narrow streets & callejones- even did a few tunnels!  We’ve discovered that the Panoramica is a road that circles above the city. When you think you are lost, wandering the callejons, and find yourself out of breath above the city, find the Panoramica to navigate a way to the zone you wish to go. Besides walking/climbing, there are 3 ways to get around in Guanajuato. Take a bus or taxi, or walk to Zona Central, take the Funicular to the Panoramica, & navigate from above the city. The third option involves walking, but not so much climbing.

It was on one of these early exploring expeditions that we found a delightful baker- el panadora Pedro. As we were descending a callejon from the Panoramica, I began to smell the delicious aroma of baking bread. I thought it was a housewife. Much to our surprise, we discovered a tiny shop tucked into the alley with an authentic large clay oven. As we peeked in, the baker bid us enter. We remarked on the old oven- “horno viejo,” and he said proudly that it wasn’t so old- only 20 years. He allowed me to photograph him with his oven, which became the inspiration for my first sketchbook entry.

The first drawing shows the callejon that leads to the Pedro’s bakery. It shows the entry of the callejon, where you turn off Paseo de Presa, (where we live for these 6 weeks in Guanajuato), and head to Pedro’s. In this first drawing I wanted to emphasize the color of the city, particularly this location. Some homeowners paint their houses in bright tropical colors, many walls are bordered with red paint, and bright flowers, mostly poinsettias and bougainvillea bloom profusely throughout the winter. To this end, I used ink to depict the masonry, and experimented with watercolor pencils to add the colorful accents. To get the deep colors I was after, I found the need to dip them directly into water and paint with the tips. Applying them like pencil and using water to blend the pigment did not allow the rich effect I was after. Pedro’s portrait was done with 4 values of ink. He stands beside his traditional domed clay oven. An undecorated cake sits on the counter, and collection of rolls are bagged for sale. The rolls are called “bolitos”- taken from “bole,” a large round loaf.