Love Letters to Oaxaca: Museo Del Ferrocarril

I’ve just returned to Los Angeles after spending three weeks in Oaxaca de Juarez, the capital city of Oaxaca, Mexico. I gave five concerts, ate world-class cuisine, even brushed up against danger. I took so many photos and videos that I’m contemplating how to share it all with you, too…

Oaxaca is a place we can learn from. It is artistic, colorful, revolutionary, and the attention to detail in the design, architecture, cuisine and culture is outrageous. The prime industry are the arts and tourism, so life is juicy and always vibrant. It was my second time there and my love affair with the city has only grown.

Where to begin? I suppose we should begin where my inspiration is lingering from the entire trip, the Museo del Ferrocarril (The Train Museum).

The Museo del Ferrocarril is one of the portals into the creative underground of Oaxaca, and the venue for the 5th and last concert of the trip. It is an old, unused train station that has been taken over by a collective of artists from Mexico and beyond. Scattered all over the compound are installations, sculptures, paintings, and drawings.

The energy of the place is vibrant and the art is alive and always changing. I was so grateful for the discovery; it was just the kind of community I adore. The collective of artists are of all ages, and they are inspired, determined and committed to their creative work. Yes, please.

I was invited to perform here by Gabriel Coto, a Cuban-born artist who now lives in Oaxaca, by way of Argentina. Gabriel attended my concerts at Café Central the weeks prior, and we became fast friends. He is full of talent no matter what medium, whether it be painting, sculpture, installations or simple sketches.

At my first show at Café Central, Gabriel sketched these images of me on a napkin using a marker:

 

 

Beautiful, aren’t they? He sketched six images in total. The one where my hands is close to my face was drawn while I was playing the harmonica.

It was then that I was asked to give a concert at the Museo del Ferrocarril, where Gabriel is a resident artist.

 

I was invited to give my concert in front of the trains, but it was a bit too cold outside for such a thing, so I performed inside of a giant building. I took this photo while we were preparing the stage, which was a railroad platform on wheels.

They brought out the chairs, they had food and vendors serve food and fresh, warm punch made from figs, apricots and cider. The perfect drink for a fall evening.

And as I performed the 90-minute set, I noticed my shadow against the blue wall in the side, dancing with my every beat. My friend Bea captured all five of my concerts on video, so I’ll share some moments soon.

After the concert I discovered that Gabriel had been creating paintings of me on canvas. I was elated when I first saw them… and I’ve been debating whether I should share them with you since they are not finished, but works in progress. It is a sensitive thing to share a work in progress.

I am going to show them to you, because I want to celebrate Gabriel’s talent now, in the moment. But let’s honor Gabriel and not distribute these images since they are not the finished. (Thank you.)

This first image was inspired by the insert that comes with my debut CD Vol. I: Battle Cry. Face isn’t finished, of course…

 

 

And this next one I like very much too. During my last night in Oaxaca this past Friday evening, I posed for Gabriel so he could get the lines of my face right. He even captured my favorite newsboy hat that I’ve been wearing a lot this year.

 

Ah, Oaxaca… the city kept a piece of my heart, a part of my soul is still there. I’m going to go begin another blog now so I can share more stories and photos.

There is to be said about Oaxaca. The architecture, the political history, the 2006 revolution, the food… oh, the food. The indigenous Zapotec, the colors, the cathedrals, and last but not least, the Day of the Dead.

In the meantime, here is another angle of Gabriel Coto’s studio.

 

 


One Response to “Love Letters to Oaxaca: Museo Del Ferrocarril”

linda wolfNovember 14th, 2011 at 8:51 pm

oh these words
remind me of my love for mexico
started when I was nine and fell in love with a 11 year old boy on horseback on the beach in Encinada.
I can just feel the time you must have had, christen.
and what a wonderful friend you made
and the artists and the art
and the artists and where they do art
so communal
I loved Oaxaca. I can't wait to go back there myself.
I am itching to get back to Mexico – april is my month there. xoxox for your blog. And can't wait to see you soon. Love linda


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christen@itsnotaviolin.com

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