Colonia San Antonio, photography, San Miguel de Allende, Uncategorized, Writings

A world away, next door: Instituto Allende’s garden campus of tranquility inspires creativity

Lost and found art, seen through a workshop window near the sculpture complex.

When I first heard that the Instituto Allende and I were born in the same year I had some mixed feelings.

I mean this venerated arts center on the Ancha de San Antonio in San Miguel de Allende looks ancient. Old stone and mortar. Buildings and walls that go back centuries. An architectural graybeard.

And me, well, I’m … I’m … well, never mind.

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Colonia San Antonio, photography, San Miguel de Allende

Dance, dance, dance in the streets for San Antonio

Every evening until June 19, there are different groups parading through San Miguel de Allende (shortly after 6 p.m.) and ending up at the Parroquia de San Antonio de Padua in Colonia San Antonio.

These are little parades and processions but colorful, a mix of religious and locos imagery, with fun and traditional costuming, and each night promises to be different. The photos here are from two different evenings this week.

It is all in celebration of namesake Saint Anthony, and a run-up to the giant Dia De Los Locos Parade on Sunday, June 19. (Think of these little parades as pieces of that giant puzzle — The Day of the Crazies.)

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Memoirs -- fact and fiction, Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Uncategorized, Writings

Welcome to my very first ever New Yorker subscription existential crisis

I have a subscription to The New Yorker, the print edition. It is the one magazine that I like holding in my hands while reading.

Circling unfamiliar, fanciful, and inventive words is part of my reading habit. Circling whole paragraphs. Underlining brilliant turns of phrase. Highlighting exciting writing. This magazine feeds that habit well. The writing is occasionally above my fighting weight, and I appreciate that.

Every time I read The New Yorker, I come away feeling a little smarter, a little more informed, and definitely motivated to keep writing.

Living in Mexico, the New Yorker can arrive two or three weeks later than it should. More often than not, it is the only thing in my mailbox. Late delivery didn’t matter when the content was less topical. Good writing is good writing and it is timeless. I always valued the New Yorker more for its literary content than for its news.

Even the front-of-the-book calendar on events happening in New York City is entertaining, even when those events occurred several weeks ago. New Yorker writers are like the city — bright, challenging, acerbic, engaging, chatty, witty, savvy and, above all, never dull.

The New Yorker is trying to be more timely and that works against my cross-border mail delivery universe. It is still some of the best writing around but by the time the magazine reaches my hands, the rest of the world has moved on. Now, when I pick up a copy, I find that I’ve read most of the stories online.

I also have a large stack of old New Yorkers that I am reluctant to throw out. It feels like hoarding.

So, I thought, time to switch to an online subscription.

Imagine my surprise, then,  when I went online and found that my print subscription expired March 1, 2015.

Is that even possible?

For years, the New Yorker has been arriving faithfully, sometimes two at a time after especially long delivery droughts. And I’ve never once paid my subscription?

For once, I am moved to use two words I despise to describe this moment: existential crisis.

My prized subscription, my only subscription to a printed thing – and I’m what? A glitch in the operation? A bug in the system? A ghost in the machine?

This is a computerized universe. We are a data-driven society. Marketers can tell when your stomach is growling or when you are leaning more Democrat — and swiftly rectify the course of things with ads uniquely chosen for your predicament. To say we are living our authentic lives today means that we are jogging beside a digital stream that knows our every need, predicts our every whim — and responds accordingly.

Usually, an alert arrives well before a subscription expires. Most offer automatic renewal if you choose to take no further action. My online newspaper subscriptions work like that. Convenient, timely, and seamless.

I am not the most conscientious bookkeeper when it comes to my bank accounts. Most times I don’t even think about it. The pension and Social Security come in and the bills get paid. If there is anything left, that is gravy.

I don’t recall an expiration or renewal notice from the New Yorker‘s data grinders. That would have gotten my attention.

Recently, The New Yorker did send me a rejection letter for an essay that I wrote for the magazine’s Shouts & Murmurs section. I sent it in about six months ago and they did warn me that the backlog was horrific. (Ie: “Don’t hold your breath.”) 

It was my first New Yorker rejection and didn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought it might. It wasn’t even an, um, existential crisis.

(Here is a copy of the essay: That time Guy Raz interviewed Satan on the NPR podcast “How I Built This.” Look, I know it is not New Yorker material. A guy’s gotta dream though, huh?)

I actually felt at the time that the humor in my essay was more topically in tune with David Egger’s McSweeney’s magazine. I had a momentary dream of submitting to both, having both simultaneously accept the article, setting off a fierce bidding war that resulted in publicity to all the right people and a three-book publishing contract with an embarrassingly frothy advance.

Instead, I thought, let’s give the New Yorker a chance. It was, after all, my first love, in a literary sense.

So, months after submitting, and forgetting like a furtive one-night stand, I found out that I wasn’t ghosted. I was rejected.

In fact, it felt pretty good. How many people can say they got turned down by The New Yorker

Real answer: Lots. And often. 

Getting published follows the same rules as winning the lottery. You have to buy a ticket to win. And most likely, you’ll need to buy lots and lots of tickets before you get a winner. 

Many writers are rejected dozens of times before a submission is accepted for publication. The magazine is that good. Cartoonists have it even worse. They can be rejected 30 or 50 times before making it into the magazine, although I believe the cartoon department is set up to more quickly reject a submission than other sections of the magazine.

I don’t really think I’m New Yorker material as a writer but you never know.

The trouble is, I’m in the Grandma Moses phase of my literary life. (Look it up, kids.) I don’t know how much is left in the tank and how much of it is worthy of rejection by prestige publications.

By now you might be thinking, “This is all well and good, Bob, but I think you are avoiding the existential crisis that initiated this essay.”

And you are right.

And I don’t know what to do.

I feel like I should submit this to “The Ethicist” column in the Sunday New York Times.

But wait. I’d better check and see if my NYT subscription is up to date.

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photography, San Miguel de Allende, Uncategorized, Writings

Friday in the Park with Moppit

Hermes Arroyo walks past a collection of his mojigangas on the old basketball court, awaiting their chance to lead wedding parties through Parque Juarez on Friday evening.

Moppit the Philosopher Dog is pretty insistent that I take her for a walk, no more than 10 minutes after she finishes her 5 p.m. dinner. She is a creature of habit. Moppit starts a huff-snorting sound around my ankles if I’m not reaching for the leash, the kind of sound a woman makes when the husband comes home late smelling of booze and perfume and mumbles “biznish shmeeting.”

lately, it has been in the high 80s around 5 p.m. here in San Miguel de Allende, so I try to reason with her.

But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

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Colonia San Antonio, San Miguel de Allende, Uncategorized

My Studio/Mi Estudio neighborhood art walk returns to Colonia San Antonio, July 16 and 17

Colonia San Antonio mural on Calle Esperanza.

The popular Colonia San Antonio art walk, MyStudio/MiEstudio, will be back bigger and better than ever this year, July 16 and 17, from noon to 5 p.m. on both days.

Like so many events, the tour of neighborhood studios and galleries went on hiatus during the Covid lockdown. It returned last October as a down-sized two-day pop-up art show at the Institutio Allende, Ancha #22, attracting about 30 artists. 

This year, MyStudio/MiEstudio returns to the neighborhood streets and organizers are expecting the biggest show yet – more artists, more studios, more galleries, more sponsorship opportunities, more restaurants, and cafes. 

“There will also be a preview exhibit at Instituto Allende,” confirms Instituto director of operations Zara Fernandez, the event organizer with Peter A Davis.

“This is a very well-attended community event,” says Fernandez. “Visitors will want to lunch and shop all through Colonia San Antonio during this event.”

In the last couple of years, San Antonio has enjoyed a boom in restaurants, cafes, bakeries, tiendas, and especially a stunning array of street murals, and is gaining a reputation as one of San Miguel de Allende’s most walkable neighborhoods.

My Studio Art Walk got its start in 2013 as the San Antonio Open Studios Art Walk. The event has undergone a couple of changes in name and changes in organizers but the goal has always been the same — to connect the rich wealth of artists in San Antonio with the greater community.

A few years ago, the art walkabout felt like something out on the frontier. Even so, by 2019 there were 51 artists exhibiting in the Colonia and the event drew thousands of people. It has grown into a highly anticipated opportunity to meet with artists in their studios, homes, and galleries, talk with them about their work, and even pick up some prized pieces at surprisingly good prices.

Organizers anticipate that many participating sponsor restaurants and eateries will offer specials during the event.

The variety of art on offer has grown as well.

“In their studios, you will see a broad variety of materials and an eclectic expression of these materials,” says Fernandez. “Paintings are large and small, abstract and figurative. Clayworks and sculptures are varied. Jewelry embraces beautiful beading, and recycled and unconventional metal pieces. Photography ranges from traditional to digitally manipulated. You will see mixed media mandalas, weird wonderful masks, calligraphy with collage, printmaking, and drawing.”

MyStudio/MiEstudio will be printing up 5,000 colorful maps of the Colonia with the locations of all artists and participating restaurants, cafes, and shops – all marked and numbered for an easy stroll through the neighborhood.

To enhance the exposure of the exhibitors,  MyStudio/MiEstudio will create short interview videos with each registered participant. Interviews will be held at the Instituto Allende on June 12th and 13th from Noon to  5 pm. The Instituto Allende website NEWS section will also carry bios of the exhibiting artists and examples of their artwork.

An outreach program to encourage native Mexican artists living in Colonia San Antonio to exhibit their art during MyStudio/MiEstudio has been revived. The entry fee ($850 pesos) will be waived for eligible participants.

The deadline for all artists to submit applications and fees is June 10.

To qualify as an exhibitor, artists must live and/or work in Colonia San Antonio, and have done so for at least the past six months. Those who lived in San Antonio before the Covid pandemic and showed in previous MyStudio/MiEstudio events are also eligible to exhibit.

For more details, contact MyStudio/MiEstudio at mystudio@instituto-allende.edu.mx .

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photography, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Weddings and quinceañeras once again fill San Miguel de Allende with beauty, music, laughter, and dancing

The best days to walk around Centro in San Miguel de Allende have got to be Thursday through Saturday.

Thursdays seem to be when the girls celebrating their quinceañeras come to the Parroquia to pose in their lavish 15th birthday gowns. A charming sight to see. Tiaras on their head, sneakers beneath a billowed and sparkling gown. A furrowed brow as the photographer aligns the perfect shot erupts into a brilliant smile on command.

The young woman pictured here stands in the middle of Calle Aldama for a classic image with Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel in the background.

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photography, San Miguel de Allende

A horse is a horse, of course, of course …

“A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
And no one can talk to a horse of course
That is, of course, unless the horse is …”

… a new mural on Callejon de Guadiana in San Miguel de Allende.

Which just goes to show that a mural doesn’t have to be big and cosmic to have an impact. This little piece is a showstopper on the alley in Colonia Guadiana.

I couldn’t stop smiling. And I wanted to give it a sugar cube.

(Special thanks to the groundbreaking cultural icon of early-1960’s sitcom television, “Mr. Ed,” and with a sense of relief that the show did not premiere in the late-1960’s psychedelic era in living color.)

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photography, San Miguel de Allende

It takes a village to raise a princess

A late afternoon photoshoot in Centro. The retinue of loyal subjects ushers the princess down Cuna de Allende, beside the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel in San Miguel de Allende.

Aides struggle to keep the gorgeous gown from gathering dirt and, as the wind picks up, from billowing out of shape. It takes a sharp eye to notice the very comfortable Fila sneakers beneath the extravagant gown.

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photography, San Miguel de Allende

Give us this day, our daily mariachis

Just kidding. I couldn’t possibly post a video of mariachis performing every day.

Or could I?

No. An occasional mariachi video is quite enough.

I like these guys who can be seen and heard in Centro, San Miguel de Allende, on many evenings. They have style and elegance, multi-generational, and the white suits stand out in a park filled with tourists in T-shirts and too-tight shorts.

At any rate, enjoy.

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photography, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Midnight serenade in Colonia San Antonio

The sound penetrated a deep sleep and scattered dreams. A car radio? The cantina on the corner? A passing boom box?

No, no, and no.

It was the real deal. At midnight a mariachi band was poised in a half-circle in front of our neighbor’s door serenading her in song here in Colonia San Antonio, San Miguel de Allende.

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