Dec 31, 2014

NEW YEAR PROJECT

2014 has been awesomely amazing, intense, tragic and hopeful, and truthfully, I imagine that 2015 will not be much different. The fine balance between chaos and harmony exists no matter what we do, or where we are. I'm here on my threshold, encompassing both, weaving them together as a weaver makes a cloth, aware that one does not exist without the other. And that WE are ALL OF THAT.

In the last few days of 2014, I have been creating little huipil samplers, in the way of lace samplers, crochet samplers, etc. that I have seen in the homes of women who knew all the secrets I never did, about stitchery. When I look at it, I see that some are more successful, some less. But then, that is MY perspective. Together they make a whole, like a quilt that has yet to be stitched together. 


Lena Bartula's "huipil sampler 1"  18.5x 13", mixed media

Making these has spawned (a word I really don't like) another project, and I believe it was subconsciously inspired by Lisa Sonora. I participated in ROOT: a 30-day journal project. I had never made a commitment like that, and I didn't do so well on this first one. I made it to day 21, and looking back, I feel it was because I failed to make it MY project. Lisa is so fabulous, she ALMOST made me think I could do it. So Lisa, thank you so much; because of you, I'm inspired to do something of my own. 

Beginning tomorrow, I'm going to make one huipil a day for 365 days. Yes, I said that. These small ones are 6 1/4 x 4 1/2 inches, and it's likely that somedays I'll be making something much smaller, much less detailed for sure. But since most of 2015, I plan to be in my studio more than I was in 2014, I believe it's a viable goal. 





I hope you'll come along for the journey. See you next year!


Dec 18, 2014

MAKIN' A LIST AND CHECKIN' IT TWICE

All the best of the holiday season to all of you, may it be filled with light, joy, and an abundance of love. As for me, the little elves have been hunting and gathering supplies and materials for the Pathmaker Huipil Workshop in Oaxaca. Since I leave San Miguel on January 5, there's no time like the present. It seems that every year, I say I won't plan anything for January, so that I can just enjoy December, but I haven't been very good at keeping to that. All those years in Santa Fe, I spend December working on the Virgen of Guadalupe exhibitions, closely followed by preparations for the Canyon Road Farolito Walk on Christmas Eve. 

When I moved to Mexico, I began having solo exhibitions in Puerto Vallarta, January or February, and December was taken up with finishing work and last minute marketing. Soon after those ended in 2009, Mariposas San Miguel took over my life and the holidays meant selling lots of products and making sure the women in the rancho had a good Christmas for their families. OK, now that that's over, I used last December working on last minute huipils for the solo exhibitions in February, Guatemala City, and March, Oaxaca. This year, I am preparing to leave, which as we all know, includes packing for all the students who will be showing up in Teotitlan del Valle for the workshop that Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca's Cultural Navigator, has organized. 

So here we go, I'm makin' a list and checkin' it twice, and if YOU are one of the participants, you will know what you DON'T have to bring. 


Colorful and thick cotton thread, metallic threads and trims, cotton and nylon
trim too.

Canvas gessoed and not gessoed, panels and pieces and full huipil bases. 

Milagros and more milagros, for a nice touch of bling.

Paper of all sorts and colors, plus heavy watercolor paper
that makes a good base for the huipil.

Cutting tools, liquid silicone, rubber stamp alphabet, needles with big eyes.
When put in a cork, they are great poking and punching tools. And the corks
make great patterns when used with ink pads or paint.

And speaking of paint, it may be too heavy to take in my suitcase, but I trust, with all the art there is in Oaxaca, that we will find what we need in the art supply store. We'll go, intrepid travelers, with an openness of heart and mind, a sense of adventure, knowing that whatever we find there or don't find, whatever tools we have or don't have, it will all be perfect. What we least expect to show up, will undoubtedly appear. This is for me, the best part of traveling outside of my studio, expect the unexpected!

Cheers to you and all you can imagine in 2015. And gratitude to all of you who helped make 2014 an outstanding year. Blessings, peace, love and endless inspiration!

Dec 2, 2014

BOOK FAIR!

It's been a while, a long while actually, since I showed my work at a fair, and maybe never at a book fair. But having been invited to show my bookart at LitEruption, by the local famous author of the day, Eva Hunter, I accepted graciously and gratefully. There are so many famous authors, writers, poets here in San Miguel, and most of them will have a table at this fair, next Saturday, December 6, at the Posada Aldea, from 10 am to 2 pm. 

Some you may recognize are the organizer, Eva Hunter, "A Little Mormon Girl," and who will be presenting her latest publication, "The Council of Women; Atonement in San Miguel," Tony Cohan "On Mexican Time," Joseph Dispenza, "God On Your Own," plus Lynda Schor, James Cervantes, Sher Davidson, John Scherber, and oh so many others I can't remember. Then there are the artists like Dawn Gaskill and Donna Myers, bringing unique and marvelous art to add to the mix. How does it get any better than this?








Nov 10, 2014

OPEN STUDIO


On Saturday, my studio was open to the public for the first time in two years. It felt perfect to welcome such a great number of visitors, to show off the 'traveling huipils' plus other works from earlier series and a few new pieces.

Gary and Linda read the tributes to "a woman who has made a difference in your life" that were written by guests, on
little paper huipils, and strung like clotheslines across the arches. 


So many people taking photos all day, I hope they will remember to send some to me!
All of my house is a studio or a gallery, so guests
spilled out into every nook and cranny.
Lulu helped Julie practice cursing.

Browsing the 'print bin' which actually holds original monotypes, photo transfers,
collage, mixed media on paper, etc. 


Huipil tributes strung on lines after visitors had a chance to write their tributes.

Thanks to all who came and supported my work! This was so much fun, I might have to do another one next year. But for today, most everything is cleared out, walls are emptied and tables are ready for work again. 

Fresh!


Oct 22, 2014

THE TROUBLE WITH BLOGS IS....

I'm horrified, dismayed, and confused, to find that many of my blog posts from last year and beyond have either lost their images, or in some cases, both the images and words. For some time, I've been going back in and trying to recapture, re-post, etc. and it's become soooooo time-consuming that I'm practically shrieking. I've clicked the little "complain to Blogger" button on the bottom right corner, to no avail. 

So, instead of trying to continue the repair job, I'm considering a different blog site. Any and all suggestions welcome, I think I'm over Google. 

Oct 16, 2014

OAXACA'S OWN CULTURAL NAVIGATOR

I first met Norma Hawthorne when I showed my huipils at the Biblioteca Henestrosa in Oaxaca last March. She was there for a personal tour of the exhibition, she took some photos, and we struck up a friendship.


Norma Hawthorn, (L) and Norma Cross (R) at HUIPILES CONEMPORANEOS,
Biblioteca Henestrosa, Oaxaca, 2014

Since then, we have been communicating via email, Facebook and blogs. Norma, aka OAXACA CULTURAL NAVIGATOR is your best bet for Oaxaca tours, workshops, cuisine, immersion and crafts. And she knows huipils! 

She has asked me to bring my huipil workshop next January, and it is filling up nicely. You can check out the past workshops on this blog, here: http://lenabartulascontemporaryhuipils.blogspot.mx/2013/10/womens-work.html and here: http://lenabartulascontemporaryhuipils.blogspot.mx/2013/09/moment-by-moment.html

And Norma has a couple of blog posts for you, this one about huipiles:
http://oaxacaculture.com/2014/09/pre-hispanic-womens-clothing-design-the-huipil-endures/
and this one with the programming and all the details of the upcoming 6 day workshop:
http://oaxacaculture.com/2014/06/art-huipil-mixed-media-workshop-retreat-explore-your-inner-artist/


Check out her blog, sign up to receive it, you won't be sorry.



Aug 14, 2014

AFTER THE EXHIBITIONS, A TIME OF REST


This year so far has been full of making art, traveling to share it, engaging with strangers, reconnecting with friends and making new ones. A year of unexpected losses and a year of great strides.  Of deep connections and rich insights. It began with setting intentions for more collaborations, less "me" in the vacuum of my studio. The year has not ended of course, only the solo exhibitions have come to an end, but I still yearn for more collective working, sharing, imagining, envisioning. I'm patient though, and open.


My Santa Fe friend Kathleen in a Oaxaca mercado.
Emy, me, Ellen and Irene, or is it Irene and Ellen?
New friends inAntigua, celebrating the new Pancho Villa mural at Cactus Tacos

Now that I'm "home," for at least a couple of weeks, I've made a practice of unpacking slowly, rehanging each huipil on the walls of my studio, thanking them and honoring those whose lives and deaths inspired this work. I'm working on a 30-day journaling project with Lisa Sonora, which takes me into a new zone every morning. And I'm planning an opening in my studio, for friends and collectors who want to see the work that's come back from these last exhibitions. It feels like  many of these are ready to go someplace and settle down.


My studio, all filled up with huipils!
And as I work, listen to the news, sing along to music, talk to friends about what's been happening while I was away, I'm thinking about things like: 
What creates happiness or unhappiness?
Where does creativity and hard work take us? Who determines success or failure?
What defines fair, strong, right, wrong?
And with all that's happening in our world, near and far,
How do we contain all of it and still love being in the world?
And still be love? 
And be in the world but not of the world?

And I notice that I'm happy contemplating these ideas without being attached to the answers that may never come.

I love my life, I love each and every moment that I'm here,
But I am not attached to it, to life itself, and I think therein lies my happiness. I'm starting to get things like impermanence, like being a spirit that happens to live inside a body, being a small part of this great big universe that I don't have to understand. Maybe that's what traveling and getting outside of my comfort zone is what it's about, and I think it's rather good for me. How are you when outside your comfort zone?


Jul 20, 2014

HUIPILES / HOMENAJES

The huipil is the vehicle that shapes this exhibition, the homage, the common thread running through it. Paying tribute to the women who weave traditional huipils is a way to honor and give thanks for the inspiration they've given me through many years. 
Lidia Lopez weaving on her patio, San Antonio Aguas Calientes
Ada working on Lidia's patio 

Blessed are the Unzipped, zippers, canvas.


Other tributes are for women who have found their voices, as in "Blessed Are the Unzipped," in which open zippers contain messages from friends who can no longer be silent.




Everyone loves to write on the Matrix!

Honoring women who have made a difference in our lives, the "Huipil Matrix" invites visitors to participate by writing a message on paper huipiles.


Huipil messages on the Marix



Ixchel contributors writing their hopes and wishes.
This Rainbow huipil pays homage to Ixchel, Mayan goddess of rainbows, water, birth and healing. Markers are provided for visitors to add what they wish to see at the end of the rainbow. 
View of the sala at Hotel Casa Santo Domingo



Alternate view of the sala


Main view of the sala at Hotel Casa Santo Domingo, Antigua, Guatemala

 Each work has a unique theme and characteristics... more details to come in my next post. 

Jul 8, 2014

HOTEL CASA SANTO DOMINGO


Saturday night was the opening / apertura of my solo exhibition, HUIPILES / HOMENAJES at the Hotel Casa Santo Domingo, the culmination of a dream, a vision, I have carried for 20 years. On a trip to visit my dear friend Dita, who is no longer with us, I was here in this very room in the early nineties. The day we chose to visit happened to be the orchid festival, and from the entry through the entire grounds, the pathways were decorated with petals, palm fronds,  blossoming branches and every kind of tropical flower. (before iPhones and Facebook, so no photos of that luscious floor)
Passing by the reception desk, which used to be on the right, we were greeted on the left with lush green gardens, a softly gurgling fountain, and screeching red, blue and yellow macaws. 


Macaws that live in the gardens in the hotel.




Fountain and gardens outside the window of the artist's sala.


Rose petals and candles, such tranquility!



The Artist's Sala at Santo Domingo


Sunlight in the sala.

I remember a tranquil, spiritual energy about the entire place, an ancient stillness that was profoundly familiar. It seemed to rely on nature and all the elements, to fulfill its reason for being. The way the sun streamed into the windows and laid across the tile floors, the breezes that danced the ferns in the garden, the blooms that created patterns of shadow on the stone walls. That captivated and inspired me to believe that yes, I would really love to return one day with my work. 







At the time, I was not making contemporary huipils. I was not, in fact, making any kind of art that would be easy to travel with. Large paintings do not make for ease of shipment. Besides, I had never at that time, traveled to another country with my work. But I tucked that gallery space into my heart, and the next time I visited there, I had he courage to go talk to the director, Ana Claudia. That was in 2006. From that day on, I began sending her information about the shows I was having. 

The timing was right only when I visited last year and the huipils were ready to travel here. What wonderful memories this trip holds, and now I suppose the story about the opening will have to wait until the next post. Thanks for sharing the journey with me.

Jun 9, 2014

LA VENDEDORA / IN GUAD WE TRUST

This huipil was actually completed many years ago, about 2008 or 9, when I moved from Pozos to San Miguel, and lived on Francisco Bocanegra. She has accompanied me to many of the exhibitions I've had since then. Everyone always loves LA VENDEDORA, but somehow, she's still with me. 


La Vendedora Huipil, Market bag, bandana, trim, 31x32"

Made from a simple market bag, she carries a bandana of la Virgen de Guadalupe in the heartspace. Las Vendedoras, the vendors in the markets, trust in her to bring them good sales. She's the one they give thanks to, especially that first sale of the day. If you shop en los mercados, sabes que las vendadoras ofrecen gracias a ella despues de la primera venta del dia.  A menudo, es la Virgin que est├ín agradeciendo.

Huipil Clothesline installation at Arthaus66, Albuquerque, NM, 2009


She was first shown at Arthaus66 in Albuquerque, NM in 2009, in a 2-person show titled ILLUMINE. 
Later that same year, she made an appearance in a solo show, MENSAJES GUARDADOS, at Galeria 6, in Mineral de Pozos, Gto. In this photo, she hangs above LA COCINERA, her sister who lives in Nick and Manrey's kitchen. Yes, as you can see, these huipils become personages and take on a life of their own. 





In Guad We Trust


In 2012, she reappeared at Happenings Gallery, (recently renamed PhotoGraphics SMA)  in San Miguel, another solo show. Here she is shown between LA COVADONGA AND LA LOTERIA. 

After that, she stayed at home in my studio for 3 long years, while I was taking a break from my art to work on my women's project, MARIPOSAS SAN MIGUEL.
But now she's ready to travel, and she gets an updated look. 


LA VENDEDORA, with her new skirt of a market bag. New dimensions,32x78"


Because she was born not IN the mercado, but OF the mercado, I could not pass up the opportunity to use this bolsa that held red onions, also sold by the vendors there. This falda brings her to life, gives her more of a presence. Plus, I think she'll love being in the same room with LA CAFECITA, created from coffee filters and a hemp bag that once held coffee beans.


LA CAFECITA, recycled coffee filters, coffee
bean bag, 33x75"

 They both pay homage to those who grow, create and sell what the rest of us need to buy. And they both will be traveling to Antigua for the next solo exhibition, HUIPILES / HOMENAJES at Casa Santo Domingo, July 5 - August 3. 

It's a gorgeous destination hotel, with museum, galleries, shops, restaurants, crypts (yes, it's likely haunted) a chocolate shop, chapels, and the exhibition space I'm showing in has been on my life list for a very long time.
Photos to come, stay tuned!





Jun 5, 2014

ANOTHER WORLD IS HAPPENING!

San Miguel de Allende is gearing up for a first! The "Moving Beyond Capitalism" Conference brings thinkers, speakers and activists from both sides of the Mexican / U.S. border. Presented by The Center for Global Justice, this weeklong gathering offers bilingual presentations, documentary films, discussion sessions, an art exhibition, and visits to organic community farms.




My contemporary huipils have been included in the accompanying exhibition, "Art As Catalyst." Sadly, I won't be here for the conference, because I'll be showing other huipils in a July exhibition in Antigua, Guatemala. But if you've been following my blog, you can just imagine how honored I am to be part of this conference venue. This year, 2014, I have put everything on the line in order to find a wider audience for this work. It isn't always the easiest sell, as you might guess. It  isn't for everyone, and although it gets comments like "powerful," "ingenious," and "intensely creative," it doesn't exactly buy me a new car or a trip to Paris. I love this huipil series though, it is my passion, and I continue to create it because I believe in the power of it. No funding, no commission from the museums or galleries, few sales, but still, I keep making the art, letting it have its way with me!

And that, my friends, is how 'moving beyond capitalism' works in my life. The rewards are so much more than money can buy. When I see the way it touches others, I know I have discovered how to use my talent to make a difference in our world. What an awesome thing to have found, after making art for my entire life.

Moving Beyond Capitalism
Encuentro 2014
Art as Catalyst






May 13, 2014

COLLABORATION / CELEBRATION / EMPOWERMENT

This gathering was a celebration in honor of Mothers Day, celebrated in Latin America on May 10, and also International Midwives Day, May 5. I do love to collaborate! and I got another chance to do so on Sunday. Since I couldn't spend Mothers Day with my own kids and grandkids, I spent it in the next best way.... a gathering at Trish Snyder's house with midwives and students from CASA. For those who don't know, that is Centro para los Adolescentes de San Miguel de Allende, a school here that offers a three-year degree plus one-year residency in professional midwifery.
Suzanne Ludekens had invited me to create a huipil form as a tribute, a place where the women could write their dreams, prayers and intentions. Her hope was for an art project that could allow them to claim their strength as women and midwives, and to receive blessings of love and support from each other and all of us as well. 

In preparation, on Saturday I had created a huipil from from simple manta, lace, and a hand-embroidered panel with the Virgin of Guadalupe, a gift from my friend Judy Sadlier in Antigua, Guatemala. From Mexico, Guatemala and Panama, all these young women were missing their mothers back home. And we expats were missing our own kids as well.




IN GUAD WE TRUST, LA VIRGIN DE GUADALUPE!
Upon arriving at Trish's house with this "matrix", we met all the young women, heard some of their stories, as in the ones from Guatemala whose mothers actually do weave traditional huipils. I had to admit to a gringa infatuation with the centuries-old art form which is theirs, not mine.

























Suzanne brought a blessing to be read in spanish, thus bringing us into a sacred circle before beginning our work. La Virgin, our spiritual Mother, Empress of the Americas, naturally became the centerpiece, the focal point, of our project. Each woman chose a strip of fabric and a marker, to write on, and read it aloud before affixing it to the huipil.

The blessing had been printed on paper and cut into strips. All were invited to select a strip and tuck it inside the pocket at the top of the Virgin panel.




When it was complete, they were excited to gather around it for photos. And even more excited to take it back to CASA with them, where it will hang in their dorm as a reminder of this day, this love and support they have in San Miguel.


As Suzanne said, "... it was a ritual of such love, solidarity and compassion." 

La Guadalupana, mother of us all, bless these young women and the new life they are dedicated to birthing into our world!