21 “easy pieces” for the New Year

We changed lockdown location for Christmas. Rented a house South of Mexico city, outside a little town called Tepoztlán. 500 metres below Mexico city. Much warmer. We spent a week with a view on the sacred mountains and escaped once on the 25th for a Street Art safari. Duly masked, early morning to avoid crowds. Here are 21 “easy pieces” for the first blog of the year.

The local artists have outdone themselves. Many themes. One recurring theme was the “Chinelos”. A traditional mask and costume used to dance in the streets of the state of Morelos. The name “Chinelo” comes from the Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs, still spoken today) word “tzineloa” which means “hip movements”. They do shake well.

Waterfall. The mountain at the end of town is called Tepozteco. There is a precolumbian temple at the top. Quite a steep hike up. In what, if I recall, is partly an old river bed.

Another Chinelo, with the Tepozteco mountain and temple in the background… We climbed it a long time ago. Worth the hike. The beard, as many traditional masks in Mexico is a reference to the Spaniards.

Colonial church in Tepoztlán. 16th century. The sacred mountain of the Tepozteco to the left. One of many recurring ants bottom right. Why ants? Another theme? (Need a grant for more research)

“In Tepoztlán, we want to be alive, free and without fear.” Another theme linked to either feminicides or LGBTQ or both. A shocking issue in Mexico and Latin America.

Yet another Chinelo on the wall. This is somewhat new in Tepoztlán. I don’t recall so much presence before. The costumes are extremely elaborate. Black velvet robes. Masks and hats.

Chinelo dancer by the church. Poor guy must have been cooking. We see them on the street a block away from our house in Mexico city. They parade a few times a year. I’ve featured Chinelos before. Can’t find the post though…

“To kill a humming-bird.” (Another frequent theme: birds)

Xoloitzcuintle. The Mexican hairless dog. The Aztecs bred them to eat… (gross, I know). Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo had several. They are still very popular. Not for eatin’ no more, no, ma’an. Good dogs, but delicate: their absence of hair makes them very susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer.

Siesta time. Around 11AM. The mural says “lactancia materna”, to promote breast feeding. Artist: Oveja prieta (Blacksheep) Ayala. There are hundreds of works of artists on the walls. All very good.

Hotel Sierra central. Made me think of Bogart’s “High sierra”. Most hotels were open. So much for distanciation.

Artist: Facte. S/he has done many murals in “Tepoz”. I am a bit at a loss for a caption here. The portrait is of a typical countryside woman. Mixed with flowers and growing branches… One the themes I have noted in several murals, was growth of trees, plants, corn, which is very important in precolumbian cultures. The fundamental food staple, equivalent to bread in Europe, or rice in Asia.

The magic mountain? (Shades of Thomas Mann?) Flying beetle is a collective that has painted many murals in “Tepoz”. Very neat. Will be featured again.

The flute player. A fantastic portrait of an old man from the sierra. (Such a variety of styles and talents, right?)

“Girl with dog” by the Compañía muralista (Muralist company). Traditional Mexican themes of Death and the Day of the Dead.

“I’m late, I’m late, said the Rabbit.”

Amazon riding a zebra. Combined with the figure of the snake and the cactus. Two of the three elements of the coat of arms of Mexico. Flying beetle again.

Quetzal bird. The symbol of Guatemala today, it was the sacred bird of the Mayas and the Aztecs. Its name figures in “Quetzal-coatl”, the feathered serpent God. (Called Kukulcan by the Maya)

Ixchel, the Goddess of the moon. Or the Lady (Ix) of the Rainbow (chel). She can be associated with both the destruction of the world, and fertility and motherhood. She is said to have invented weaving, another very important activity in precolumbian America. In Chiapas and Guatemala, some women still weave their own clothes. Ixchel is still used as a first name.

As more and more people went out on the streets, we thanked our guides (above) and left. Back to lockdown. (To be continued…)

21 “easy pieces” of street art to start the year. Captain and crew wish y’all a happy 2021. At any rate, better than 2020, which should not be too hard. To-day, January 5th, I have “Georgia on my mind”. Looking forward to the 20th of January. Stay safe.

135 thoughts on “21 “easy pieces” for the New Year

  1. Such exquisite street art! I have trouble choosing a favourite, for they are all wonderful, but I adore the Quetzal bird! Now hmmmm … why does that song ring a bell with me? 😉 Thanks, Brian … you gave me a smile today. Take care, my friend.

      • I got a whatsapp form a friend in Sacramento. spent the next hours glued to CNN.
        You know what? He made his final mistake. One step too far. Almost all Republican senators voted against the objections. He has attacked his very own people (Republican Reps and senators in their most sacred place.) He will pay for this.

      • There is much anger, even among the republicans, but as a few days have gone by, the push to remove him from office now is dimming, the odds are basically nil, and worse yet, there is a significant threat that there will be an even worse insurrection on January 20th, inauguration day. This is a nation in chaos, my friend. I wonder now if the people of this nation will ever find solidarity again. Sigh.

      • I think many Democrats will get his hide. Sooner or later. Now another insurrection on the 20th? There is time to prepare for (against) that.
        The Civil War left worst scars. Biden and his team will do a good job. 👍

      • There is indeed time to prepare for what may be planned on the 20th, BUT … there was time to have prepared for last Wednesday’s event, too, for the perpetrators had been making their plans in plain sight on social media, and our security services were well aware of what was to transpire, and yet the presence of law enforcement was almost nil. Now, the question becomes, who kept the National Guard and other law enforcement forces away from the Capitol? Did Trump order it, or is our law enforcement community as corrupt as Trump is? Can we count on them to protect the inauguration on the 20th? Sigh. Oh yes, sooner or later he will pay for his perfidy, but will it be soon enough? 10 more days … what could possibly go wrong in 10 days, eh? Sigh. I do trust Biden to do the best he can, but he will have challenges to face that no president has had in the last 100 years, I think.

      • There are many questions to be answered. At some point. Meanwhile, let’s get this wrapped. Biden has a historical challenge, but I think he and his team will be up to it.

      • Of course, we need to see that the 20th is peaceful/controlled. And Biden must work with McConnell right away. That’s the man who has to stop the nonsense.

  2. Wow, aren’t they amazing, especially the first one? There are a good few street arts in Sligo too, some of which I haven’t seen yet. But I have to wait for the restrictions to come to an end to see them. I hope you had a lovely festive season. Wishing you a very Happy New Year ☺️ Aiva

      • After watching the Ancient Aliens series I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see such beings walking around in the streets, especially there in your area. This whole situation may even be their doing. 😉

      • You mean the ’67 series that was aired when I was a child? Man, I got that one on my waiting list for some time. There’s a recent miniseries too.
        However, the Ancient aliens documentary series deals with facts, not fiction. And you get to see archeological sites that you may or may not have visited (or will, ever). Including Teotihuacan, Göbekli Tepe, Puma Punku, Nan Madol and so many others. Reinterpreted texts from the Vedas, Kuran, Bible as well as ancient legends from the mayans, aztecs and current native tribes from southern/central America or Australia. One may link the current events with the second coming of Christ and a possible “modern” version of The Flood. Aren’t they talking about The Great Reset, a new world and so on now? I for one believe they are all related. And it just may not be (all) our (human) doing. But of course I may be wrong. 😉

      • That very same. That’s when we got TV for the first time. None available before really. Invaders, Star Trek, Bonanza, The fugitive, The avengers, Mission impossible, etc. Practically only seeing that right now. Some of it has aged a bit. But it’s always better than netflix.
        About the rest… I have my doubts. Stemming from when I went to Baalbeck in 67. It was depicted as THE alien landing spot… Hmmm.
        And about the “reboot”? It’s probably coming. For good or for bad? We’ll see.

      • Yeah, there were a lot of series back then. Most seem aged because the technology and/or ideas presented there are long obsolete, but others such as Star Trek (the original) came up with moral dilemmas and questions that are still valid today so they are worth watching even in this day and age. Of course, when nostalgia hits one can watch whatever they want. 😉

        As for the “visitors”, there still exist a theory or two that may seem far fetched but could explain certain mysteries of the past, such as the human-animal hybrids depicted in ancient egyptian drawings and carvings. Those were supposed to be alegories or metaphors, but what if they were real…? In view of the current so-called vaccine from Pfizer that uses the untested mRNA technique and who-knows-what else it wouldn’t be surprising if within a generation or two mankind – or most of it – would mutate into such hybrids, and at some point a handful of masters and their hybrid slaves (politically incorrect, I know, but reality needs its true words) would travel back in time to rule over the ancient Egypt.

        Alternatively, it’s possible that those depicted there were actual visitors from another space (and time), and some “bright” humans thought they should duplicate the experiments here and now.

        At this point anything is possible. I’ve been wondering for a while already how on Earth (?) was it possible to achieve such huge progress in such a short time in (micro)electronics, robotics, bioengineering and other domains. The answer may be… up there. 😉

        What I do realize is that what’s coming – or better said what’s already happening – will most certainly be for the good for a select few, and for the bad for most of us – those who will be left alive. It’s always been like that since forever. And I’m not sure I want to be around to witness the outcome of it all.

      • Many topics. I am a big fan of Sci-Fi, but if there are aliens, we’ve been seriously listening to radio broadcast for at least 50 years. Nothing. So if there is someone, they’re more than 50 light-years away.
        One of the answers for the accelerating progress is universal education at the end of the 19th century. At that time, nearly 40% of European population couldn’t red or write.
        Now the “final” outcome? Maybe. Maybe not. Again, the world population is much more educated. Will they still be passive?
        We’ll see.

      • First and foremost: the guys “at the buttons” would never disclose to the public such earth-shattering truths such as the discovery or direct contact with non-earthly beings. Reason #1 would be worldwide panic, in their opinion. Education in this regard is close to zilch. Admittedly the correct and full information could be too much for a lot of people, particularly the religious fanatics.

        The radio thing doesn’t hold water – they may not use any kind of electromagnetic waves for communication or other purposes, or they may purposely cloak/encrypt such communications in order to avoid detection.

        Fifty light-years may be nothing if the quantum space/time bending theories prove to be correct and they managed to put any of them into practice. So they may even be billions of light-years away from us physically and still get here in the blink of an eye.

        And don’t get me started on the multi-dimensional topic, where civilisations could have been here in this space forever but in different dimensions that they did find out how to traverse from/to. This would very nicely explain the ghosts and the poltergeist phenomena.

        The universal education you mention can’t possibly explain the sudden burst of miniaturisation of electronics, for example. In the late ’70s I learned electronics and we were still using Germanium transistors as “modern” components while most home devices were still using vacuum tubes. Our first vacuum tube-based TV set – Romanian design – was bought sometime in the early 70s and it remained operational until the late 90s with my help. In the early 90s I got my first so-called home computer, a local clone of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k, which was made of a lot of integrated circuits and was the size of a nowadays’ laptop; compare that and its lousy computing power with any of today’s mobile phones, in terms of physical size, computing power and capabilities. There simply is no way for the electronics industry to have naturally evolved so much in such a short time, even if we were to take into account a logarithmic scale. There must have been some external input that accelerated the knowledge and thus the technology.

        The world population has been “domesticated” and forced into submission. Look around, they all tremble with fear and wait for the “life-saving” vaccine (that will be their doom). The very few that still rebel will be hunted down like animals and murdered without remorse. “For the good of mankind”, they say. I call bullshit. Will any old-normal human survive? You may live to see – I definitely won’t, because I’m on the blacklist.

      • Not a big loss for you. The script seems childish and the props are often laughable at. Didn’t age well. But there were a couple of scenes well imprinted in my childhood memory and wanted to review the series to find out why they got me so impressed back then. Nostalgia… 🙂

      • Yes, I am a vegetarian. But even before I became vegetarian, I found it strange that it is o.k. to eat some animals and others not, especially when thinking of piglets, lambs and calves.

      • True. Now in the middle ages, there was so little food on the table people ate anything even remotely edible. Snails are a perfect example.
        I remember as a kid asking my father, and he said it was a matter of what the animals ate. For instance he said, predators – who eat meat – could be dangerous to eat… I don’t know.

      • I never heard about people eating predators. Maybe it is also the taste, I don’t know either. And I guess the only animals that eat predators are vultures and hyaenas and such. (I guess)

  3. These are wonderful, so colorful and varied!! The first one is my favorite. It was hard to look away. The flute player is really incredible, such detail on such a large scale, right down to the callous on one of his knuckles. I also appreciated the whimsy of the rabbit. Georgia is definitely on my mind right now. After watching the news tonight, it would appear that the freak show is going to continue unabated. Talk about falling down the rabbit hole . . .

  4. Georgia is on everyone’s mind…

    I would love to see a Quetzal bird in the wild. I learned about them and Quetzalcoatl in school and have been enamored ever since. I believe I saw one or two in a zoo perhaps in San Diego, I can’t remember. But, some day I would like to see one in real life wild and free.

    The little bird on the Hotel Sierra is sweet too isn’t she?

    The Chinelo dancer’s costume is wonderful. What is the dance like?

    Happy New Year #21. Thanks for the photos. Clever idea for a post.

    • You’re luckier than I am for seeing a quetzal. They must be very difficult to see in nature.
      The dance is nothing elaborate. Sort of jumping around and hip swagger. It is generally very cute because they bring little children with full costumes and beard masks… Very adorable. 21 occurred to me. As good a title as any. I had a hard time selecting the 21. Plenty left where it comes from. Take care jenny.

  5. Fantastic artwork. Great post. I have a t-shirt with the angel (woman with her arms outstretched), on it. Love Ray Charles. Saw him live. Amazing. Held the audience in the palm of his hand.

    • The “angel” by flying beetle? Wow. That collective is actually run by and an American woman. An artist who’s lived there 30 years I think. You have a T-shirt? Wow.
      Now Ray Charles? Live? I am green with envy.

  6. Thank you for the wonderful tour! What a nice way to start the year Captain. It must’ve been nice to go see something else for a change. Nothing like a different wallpaper here and there …

  7. Amazing street art. I love to visit Mexico through your photographs 🙂 Reykjavik used to have a lot of beautiful street art but over the years many of the buildings that had them got replaced by hotels. Only recently they start appearing again. I should to a tour around town with my camera soon I think. Cheers from the snow rock!

    • Cheers back Mel. A street art safari in Reyjkjavik sounds nice. Now the problem would be the light wouldn’t it? Difficult to get enough light over there at this time of the year?
      Glad to send you “memories” of Mexico.
      Tchüß

    • Helloooo. I was thinking about you. Happy New Year. Georgia went fine, thank God. And the Moron-.in-chief has probably made his last mistake. Democracy is always fragile. Anywhere.
      I hope you are well. Bonne Année.

      • Happy New Year to you too, Brian! It was a relief to hear Georgia was okay. The M-i-C has like most narcissistic despots, gone too far. In the end, they alienate even their own fanbase. The Pied Piper of extremist nutters will have noone but KKK and lynch mobs to follow him. Democracy is that flawed beast and oh yes, so fragile. Then again perceptions of it can be many and varied…..

      • Yep. Only the KKK. And as for the mobsters? They’re already beginning to get fired. Boss watches TV and says: “Hey! Isn’t that ‘Smith’?”. Yep. He’s wearing his company badge in the Capitol. Morons.
        Now Democracy? I’ve in enough baaaad places. Democracy may be the worst system, but it’s the only one that works…
        Cheers.

      • Democracy is just a blip on the governing radar but you are right, it is better than some alternatives.
        And I am glad that there are consequences for the mob. They should have thought that through rather than jumping on the social media triggered bandwagon.

  8. Absolutely gorgeous murals by some outstanding artists.
    You’ve got me intrigued by those ants. I know that in the state of Oaxaca chicatanas – or flying ants – are considered a delicacy. They appear only once a year during the start of the rainy season and feasting on them has been a continuation of pre-colonial tradition. I wonder if it is anything similar in Tepoztlán?
    Wishing you and yours a very healthy and safe new year.

    • A certain species of ants are eaten in Colombia too. Fried. Taste like peanuts… 😉
      I’d forgotten you’ve been around…
      We’d been to Tepoztlán many times before but it’s the first time I’ve seen ant references. And of course, I was in no mood to ask anyone…
      Hope to go back when this madness eases out.
      Likewise my friend. Happy new year to oyu and yours.

  9. Superbe, comme d’habitude. Je reste sans voix devant le joueur de flûte. Bien sûr, le style local, d’aplats colorés, est absent. Mais quelle technique sur une si grande surface. Et la manche bleue ! Ceci écrit, l’homme joue plutôt d’un instrument à anche, une sorte de bombarde locale, non ? Et si même les guides sortent masqués …
    Merci, Brieuc, et prend bien soin de toi.

    • Nous avons passé qqs heures sans voix. une richesse d’art extraordinaire. Et de très grands artistes. C joueur de “flute” (Il faut que je regarde) occupe deux fois plus de surface, Il y a un oiseau à droite, mais la re est étroite. “caïman” impossible de prendre tout le mur.
      Stay safe too mon ami.

  10. A variety of styles and talents is right! My favorites are the lion head, the flute player, and the rabbit. Another nice mixture of the foreign and familiar. BTW, I think I fixed the comment issue. Thanks for pointing it out. I shamefully have to admit that after a life in software I never did any testing of the commenting and was oblivious to the hassle so thanks again. Bonne année.

    • I would agree with your choices. though of course, I like all those I’ve posted. The Lion head is special. Reason why I posted it first.
      Glad you “fixed” the comment issue. I wasn’t sure whether it was any of my business. 😉
      A life in software? Interesting. What’s your particular field? No worry. “The shoemaker always walks barefoot!” I’ll check it and see. You should have more comments.
      Bonne année à toi aussi Carol.
      🙏🏻

      • I started in simulation, at Bell Labs. Then worked with my husband for over 15 years in our own software companies where we developed and sold programming tools to other developers. Glad I did it. Glad I no longer do it. 😃

      • Bell Labs now? Compliments. And simulation is a difficult area. I learnt programming in Business school. Punch cards with an IBM360! Can you imagine? 🤣 Learnt Cobol, Basic. A bit of Fortran.
        One should always feel good about one’s job. before and after.
        Bon Dimanche

      • I learned on punch cards as well–Fortran that eventually ran on an Amdahl machine. At Bell Labs, we used UNIX and C but I worked in a lab that served as guinea pigs for C++, then under development. Looking back I feel like I lucked out. Personal computers were just beginning to be taken seriously but there were very few programming tools available for developers to use. My early exposure to UNIX tools, object-oriented programming, and C++ guided the next 15 years of my life.

      • You really are a computer person. I was just an amateur. But it was fun. A good exercise in structure. I still have one punch card from these days. A museum piece.

      • Dear Brian and Carol,

        Hello! I very much enjoyed the conversation between you and Brian at this post entitled “21 “easy pieces” for the New Year”.

        I particularly like this comment of Carol as follows:

        I learned on punch cards as well–Fortran that eventually ran on an Amdahl machine. At Bell Labs, we used UNIX and C but I worked in a lab that served as guinea pigs for C++, then under development. Looking back I feel like I lucked out. Personal computers were just beginning to be taken seriously but there were very few programming tools available for developers to use. My early exposure to UNIX tools, object-oriented programming, and C++ guided the next 15 years of my life.

        Here is a special gift from me in the form of a programming toast to all three of us:

        Programming with C by Adding and Substracting with SoundEagle, Brian and Carol

        #include <stdio.h>
        
        int (*operation)(int x, int y, int z);
        
        int add(int x, int y, int z)
        {
            return x + y + z;
        }
        
        int subtract(int x, int y, int z)
        {
            return x - y - z;
        }
        
        int main(int argc, char* args[])
        {
           int  Brian = 1000, Carol = 1500, SoundEagle = 2000;
        
           operation = add;
           printf("%d + %d + %d = %d\n", Brian, Carol, SoundEagle, operation(Brian, Carol, SoundEagle));
           operation = subtract;
           printf("%d - %d - %d = %d\n", Brian, Carol, SoundEagle, operation(Brian, Carol, SoundEagle));
           return 0;
        }
        
  11. What pure delight to spend the holidays wandering such vibrant streets. You live in a magical country. When will we see some of your art on some walls? 🙂

    • Ha! You were not in Spam but in a folder called “pending”. I had more than 20 messages hidden there… My art on walls? LOL. I’m not good enough. I can manage on an A4 paper, maybe a bit more, but I wouldn’t dare start a wall. Can you imagine the sense of proportions one needs? No. Let’s leave art to real artists. I’m just an amateur and a dilettante… Biz.

  12. Love the vibrancy. I don’t know why, but if there are two colours that make me think of Central and S. America, they are the deep burnt ochre, perhaps it’s mustard, such as on the wall in image 6, and a bright blue, something like phthalo or maybe lighter, an ultramarine.

    • image 6 is the one with 3 girls/women (we want to be safe)? Yes, that ochre is common. So are yellows and blues. Always very bright. And “terre de Sienne” Terracota I think? Now the sun light plays a great role in “pulling” the colours outside the wall. November to May here is great: rainy season is off, and we have plenty of sun.
      I like to share those colours with my friends in Europe. I remember how drab November to May can be…
      (let the sunshine…) 🌞

    • Dear Brian and librepaley,

      I concur with you about the vibrancy. Often, the costumes and beadworks of these cultures in the central and south Americas are also highly vibrant and colourful.

      Brian, these are really wonderful and impressive alfrasco paintings and street arts. And you have a great knack of finding them as photographic subjects during your eventful trips in those foreign places. Well done!

      I wonder how long their brilliant colours will last, considering that they are being exposed to the elements.

      Happy mid-January to both of you!

  13. Easy pieces… easy on the eyes, easy to see the beauty artist bring to any canvas! Great post, there again is such an impressive diverse series of street art. The siesta shot you have is brilliant all around ~ the street art, and then the art of the photographer 🙂 You seem to have had a great holiday season, smart to get away from ‘home’ and renting a house in Tepoztlán, these little adventures are worth everything. Cheers to a great year ahead, even if it gets a little rocky at times ~ take care!

    • The siesta shot was typical opportunity and later cropping. I was interested in the breast feeding “Ad” (Comes from local health authorities). Then the choice of murals was astounding. There will be more posts.
      And yes, it was good to take a break. Did you manage to take one, end of year?
      This year should be interesting. Cheers.

  14. Of course, terracotta, earth baked in the sun. I remember a Spanish colleague glumly saying one March ‘I haven’t seen the sun for 52 days’. She had to go back to Spain for a long weekend to get a dose, like a vitamin shot. You can learn to see beauty in the starker winter landscape, though.

    • Absolutely. We lived in Holland for 3 years in between 2 African postings (assignments?) First winter was a bit of a shock. BUt you get used to it. And I remember long winter walks in Normandy. If you’re properly geared up, it’s fine. The lomng lines of leafless trees, The dark earth turned waiting for spring.

  15. So much to admire in this collection, Brian, never heard of Tepoztlán before but it’s clearly got a good-sized artist community. As the former owner of two Beetles many years ago, I’m particularly liking the Beetle homage. Only two days to go until either, the democratically elected president of the US will be sworn into office, or chaos reigns. I’m betting on the former. Hope all’s well.

    • Tepoztlán is a small town, close to Cuernavaca, where Cortes had his last residence. Only an hour away, and much warmer. The woman behind “beetle” is actually an American artist who’s lived there for years.
      I have little doubt that Biden will be sworn in. I also believe the Moron is finished. But. But. millions of Americans have voted for him. And the caricature he represents. You heard of Qanon? Some actually believe there is a supreme being called Q? What is this?

      • Ah, Qanon. I honestly think that the old saying of ‘if the lie is big enough people will believe it’ applies to that that vipers nest of conspiracy theories and complete untruths. I mean, honestly, people actually believe that the Orange Idiot is leading a crusade against an illuminati pedophilia ring headed by the Clintons and operating out of a pizza restaurant in Washington DC. Sadly, they are thriving in Germany as well.

      • In many places. I find it fascinating for the history-minded people. You. Me, I’m just a dilettante… We can see how Hitler and Mussolini took over the minds of two of the most civilized people in history…
        (To be continued…)
        Be good.

    • Thank you. It is a selection of street art I have been lucky to see in my travels… Such art is booming everywhere, and it is fun to compare “styles” in different countries and cultures. France (Europe) is very different form Latin America for instance.

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