Sunday, May 17, 2009

La Alma de Oaxaca

Gouache Painting by Mitzi Linn "Oaxacascape: City Street"

I love the old adobe and green stone (cantara) architecture of Oaxaca's "El Centro". Living near Santo Domingo in 1988/89, and walking daily through the zocalo on my way to the market, I could see the natural hills and mountains surrounding the small city. I never thought of it as a "colonial city" though Cortes himself built a house there and one time I housesat one of the oldest houses in Oaxaca.

Oaxaca has grown dramatically since 1995. It is a world class tourist destination, named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the 1990's. Many of the old buildings have been restored and some are now museums and libraries, as well as cultural centers. Pedestrian streets opened up. Now it is a "colonial city" in tourist brochures.

People from all over Mexico moved to Oaxaca too, increasing the local population in the valley to a million (or more) people. When I started living part time in Oaxaca in the late 80's, the population was under 200,000 in the valley. Then there were hardly any cars on the streets because credit to buy them was not available. Walking in the city was an intense pleasure. The blooming trees, the quiet neighborhoods.......

A small community of artists, musicians and creative types found each other at El Sol y La Luna restraurant for good food and drink, art exhibits and live music. Then we moved on to La Candela and Los Guajiros to dance to Cuban music. We met at art openings at La Mano Magica and Arte de Oaxaca. I felt a welcome part of this Oaxacan and international scene. It encouraged me to become an artist--the midlife choice that gave me a renewed appreciation of culture and creative expression.

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