December 26, 2005

New Mexico on Christmas

I always find it interesting to explore different observations of the Christian holidays - especially Christmas. In Mexico and the bordering U.S. states there is a wonderful blending of Indian, Spanish, European observations to make up local traditions.

Our first day in New Mexico we had the opportunity to spend Christmas Eve in old town Albaquerque. The town was lit up with luminarias (which I'm sure I am spelling incorrectly). They are brown paper bags filled with sand and a candle. You can see them on the tops of buildings, along walkways and following the curves of adobe walls.

Another interesting tradition we observed is the Buffalo Dance at a Santa Fe Pueblo. The men of the tribe were dressed in identical costumes that seemed to blend that old and new traditions. Sixty men had deer antlers on their heads resting in a covering of evergreens. Their faces were painted black and their hands white. Each had turtle shells on the back of their legs that clunked. It was a dance tht followed the beat of a drum and they marched in place. Although there was not a lot of action by our standard image of Indian dance they chanted hauntingly as they moved in psynch.

I'll upload images when I return. Forgot the camera cable.

December 20, 2005

Trippiest Website Ever

While in San Diego earlier in the month my friend Julie and I went to a performance by Guillermo Gomez-Penna of La Pocha Nostra. Want a mindblow? Visit his website

From his website:

Dear Curator, Producer, Arts Presenter,Think twice before inviting this performance artist to your institution. His new work might be overtly political and too sexually explicit for these times. He might challenge—even “offend”—your audience. If you insist on inviting him, make sure that your board members approve, and that the local community is prepared. We don’t want to ruffle the feathers of our donors or the media. Remember: this is post-9/11 America, the Bush era, and these are extremely delicate times.
The Artist
USA, 2005

Who he is:
Guillermo Gómez-Peña is a performance artist and writer based in San Francisco, where he directs the interdisciplinary arts troupe La Pocha Nostra. His latest book, Ethno-techno: Writings in Performance, Pedagogy and Activism, was published by Routledge (2005).

Tika Jealous

Here's a photo of Tika who was getting jealous of the pig and George.

Pig in a Blanket

There seem to be a variety of plants in our front garden that bloom at different times of the year. I love the little piggy thingy that a previous tenant left in the garden. The flowers grew all around it and created a little blanket. Can you believe it is December 21 with flowers in bloom?

The piggy is the little brown area on the top center of the image. She kind of looks like a dirt pile here.

Memorial for Frida Kahlo

A little shrine I made for Frida featuring various items I collected on my trips to Mexico City. It sits on my office desk so that I can laugh at all the crazy characters. Frida would have enjoyed it.

Another little shrine in the corner of my bedroom. This one has paintings by Frida and Diego. It breaks my heart that they both painted a similar image of watermelons as their last work before their deaths.

Working with the Frida Kahlo Museum was one of my highlights of 2005.

December 19, 2005

A Car is Born

This weekend I welcomed George into my life. He is a cute black pug-looking Scion. His first 498 miles were challenging - leaving him with some birthmarks such as a mystery white spot on the driver's seat and a smudge that just can't be cleaned off the dashboard - remnants of his journey to Houston from a different Toyota dealership. But I think he’s beautiful.

Isn't he pugalicious?

Photos a bit dark - he was sleeping.

December 15, 2005

Safer in Oakland?

Shoot out on our street last night. At first I thought it was Chinese firecrackers like we would hear at night in our Oakland neighborhood. But then the sirens and helicopter indicated it was something bigger. Stephen ran from window to window to watch the action. It took place a block from our house.

Houston police officer shot during drug sting
By MIKE GLENNCopyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

A Houston police officer was listed in stable condition at Memorial Hermann Hospital early today after he was shot during an undercover narcotics investigation in the Montrose area, authorities confirmed.

The wounded officer, whose identity was not released, was struck at least three times during a drug sting operation about 12:30 a.m. in the 2300 block of Mason at Fairview, Houston Police Department officials said.

One of the men was killed at the scene, while two others were wounded, during the exchange of gunfire, police said.

Four men in a gold-colored Toyota Corolla pulled up as the officer and a second investigator were attempting to make an undercover narcotics deal. One of the shooters was carrying a shotgun while another was armed with a semi-automatic pistol, police said.

"They both fired at the officers (and) our officers returned fire," HPD Lt. Robert Manzo said.
Several backup officers then moved in and also began firing. The man who opened fire with the shotgun was pronounced dead at the scene. The man with the pistol was wounded but managed to run a short distance away, police said.

"He dropped the weapon approximately half a block a way, fell down, and was apprehended," Manzo said.

Two other men in the vehicle fled on foot, setting off an extensive police search of the area including canine teams and an HPD helicopter.

They were later found hiding beneath a house in the 200 block of Stratford. One was taken to an area hospital with a gunshot wound to his arm, police said.

The motive was still under investigation this morning but officers at the scene said the men in the Toyota Corolla may have intended to rob the undercover officers.

December 14, 2005

Carol Burnett Makes Me Laugh

Getting Sirius About Howard Stern

I love listening to Howard Stern. True. My earliest Howard memory is from when I spent a summer working at my Grandfather and Uncles' lumber yard, Plotkin Lumber, and we listened to his radio show every day. It was fantastic and I felt like one of the guys - especially when I snuck into the private staff bathroom and viewed the girly photos all over the wall. That place had quite a fragrance. At least the fresh lumber acted as a partial air freshner.

For a fantastic summary of the Stern staff and Whack Packers visit this link on MSNBC.

Howard's moving to Sirius Satellite Radio. Unfortunately I don't think it is in my limited arts budget to subscribe. Instead I'll regularly check out his website I actually read it every day.

Ready for the Car to Arrive!

When it rains it pours in Houston. Since I'm still biking until the Scion arrives later this week, I hope, this morning I had to walk in the rain. Not complaining about nature here but I am dripping wet from my knees down to my toes. If nothing else it is refreshing.

Oh Dear Car Gods (Toyota),

Please deliver my Scion to me soon.
I want to hug it and squeeze it and name it George.


I Know Victoria's Secret

While flipping through the channels last night we found the Victoria's Secret fashion show on UPN! Stephen thinks it was my blog that got it on the air in Houston. It was worth viewing. Cool outfits, Latin dancing and drama. Tyra Banks played the diva.

In my next life I want to return without cellulite and then I could be a runway model too. Okay, maybe I have to reincarnate a bit taller too – and less frizzy hair.

December 11, 2005

Funkalicous Gig and Rig

Great news! I have a new job with an organization called Aurora Picture Show which is a funky, cool and hip microcinema here in Houston. What's a microcinema you ask? It is a small, alternative venue that shows short films and other forms of multimedia. The organization's primary venue is a renovated church located in an area called The Heights. It is also home to Andrea Grover, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Aurora and her family.

Recognized nationally for their innovative programming Aurora has received a remarkable capacity building grant form the Warhol Foundation Initative. It is a remarkable time to be involved with this organization, which is looking strategically at their future. As Assistant Director. I look forward to partnering with Andrea in developing the organization to its fullest potential.

Although it is barely a ten-minute commute to the Aurora office I have retired my faithful bicycle. After researching the most affordable (read frugal) cars, with the best hip-factor I settled on a Scion and ordered a cool black xA yesterday. It arrives before Christmas! As all the literature and even the salesman says it is geared to Gen Y markets but many Gen Xers are finding them appealing. Although not as cool as a Vespa the funk factor is still there. We dubbed it funkalicious.

December 9, 2005

Thoughts on Not Being a Photographer

Back when I was a student in middle school, high school and college I loved photography. It was my passion to be a professional photographer, although I didn’t exactly know what Professional Photographer meant. My open minded parents encouraged me to pursue a photography degree and I excelled in the making of images. Never once did I doubt my passion or lose momentum, until my senior year of college.

My final year of college I was burned out on photography, the critique process and making images with “meaning”. After being attacked, or at least it felt that way, for four years by the Chair of the photography department I had the love of photography sucked out of me. It has never fully returned.

The passion began at a camp called Horizons in Maine. That summer, when I was 14, I fell in love with making images. The instructors encouraged me and even pulled me aside to say that I “had something special.”

Well, 22 years later I can barely pick up a camera without getting depressed and having a near anxiety attack about photography. Now that I’m at the Houston Center of Photography I am around photography and photographers every day. They are ordinary people, like myself, who have a passion for image making – like I once had.

But what I am finding is that you can’t just make images – then you are considered a hobbyist. You need a lengthy biography, exhibition and award list before anyone will look twice at your work. Don’t even bother trying to talk about your passion unless you can drop names of artists like candy from a piñata. As I get older the ability to make images seems to get further from my reach – like trying to light a candle with no wick.

Why so melancholy? I was reading through the bio of one of the photographers who will be featured in the Houston Center for Photography auction in February 2006. Turns out he taught at Horizons around the same time I attended the camp. His bio is six pages long which validates his work. But you know what? His images are ones that I could be making. It breaks my heart to no longer be a photographer. Guess that’s why the professor back in college pushed me to the wall – if you can’t take the heat get out of the game.

My image of Holywood Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland, 2004

Thought of the Day

Marshalls' Law

While shopping in Marshalls for some warm winter clothes they kept playing "Marshalls' Law" commercials over the public address system. Statements like, "Marshalls' Law says only the best for less." I couldn't help but see the irony. Who is their marketing agency?

December 8, 2005

Horny Rhino Update

It drives well but the car is too long and has many blind spots. Very hard to park. Lots of room for groceries. Excellent sound system. Looks great in the garage!

Horny Rhino

Because I have a series of meetings to attend in various parts of Houston over the next two days I decided to rent a car. The bike just doesn’t cut it for cold, nights, cool-factor, rain… To my surprise Budget rented me a Chevrolet HHR. I fully expected something super boring and white. This is beige and funky! So excited with my rental I emailed Stephen a link to the HHR site and he said it looks like a “horny rhino”. Keep in mind he doesn’t like the PT Cruiser either. My theory – ugly enough becomes cool. Maybe it is the rear shot on the Chevrolet website that plays to its best assets.

December 7, 2005

Mastering Small Talk

Making small talk at parties is my nightmare. I'm fine with business speak but when it comes to chatting it up I only know how to end the conversation. Today's Morning Edition on NPR provided some excellent tips for how to survive small talk at the company party.

I disagree with #5 on Conversation Killers to avoid. Most of my best conversations are when my inside voice speaks out. Or maybe I would rather hang with people who are amused by my inside voice. Hay, if they're fake, she wants you to talk about them. You now understand why I need this list.

On the other hand Icebreaker #7 is of no interest to me. Sounds like the opening to a therapy session. Can you imagine the responses. "I get the winter blues. It reminds me of when my grandfather passed away. I don't make enough to buy presents. We don't have heat in our house. I just robbed a bank."

Top 10 Icebreakers
1. "What is your connection to the host/hostess or event?"
2. "What do you enjoy the most about this time/season of the year?"
3. "Describe how this season of the year impacts your work?"
4. "Bring me up to date about your life/work/family since the last time we got together..."
5. "Tell me about your plans for the holidays..."
6. "Describe your favorite holiday tradition..."
7. "What challenges do you encounter at this time of year?"
8. "Tell me about a special gift you have given or received?"
9. "What is your favorite holiday? Why?"
10. "What have you got going on during the coming year?"

Conversation Killers to Avoid
1. "Are you married?" or "Do you have any kids?" Where are you going with either one of these if the response is "No"?
2. "How's your job at Boeing, United Airlines, Martha Stewart Enterprises (fill in the blank)?" Unless you know a person well, assume nothing! Don't put them on the spot like that. Instead ask: "What's been going on with work?"
3. "How's your wife?" (She left, took all the money, the kids and got the house!)
4. "Merry Christmas!" "What are your Christmas plans?" Not all of us celebrate Christmas.
5. At all costs avoid "Is that real?" "Are those real?"

Victoria's Super Secret

After all the hype about the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show over the past six months I planned my evening on the couch to check it out. How could I miss Tyra Bank’s final runway appearance and all the drama?

Welcome to Texas. Our local CBS affiliate didn’t carry the show. I searched every cable channel, as best I could considering my remote control disability. Even Stephen couldn’t find it on any of our 785 channels.

Good thing I can freely view the website, for now.

December 6, 2005

First Trip Back to California

This past weekend I took my first trip back to CA to visit my friend Julie in San Diego. I’ve always loved San Diego with its beautiful water views, rolling hills, Balboa Park attractions and wonderful eateries. It is worlds different from San Francisco but there were subtle similarities I noticed now that I’m in Texas.

For instance, cars (nearly) always stop for pedestrians crossing the street. In Texas you have to wear a rear view mirror on your head as a pedestrian. In San Diego people of all ages could be seen wearing funky clothes and bargain shopping. In Texas it seems that bargain shopping is not cool and funky is only for people in the arts.

We hooked up with our mutual friend Craddock. All three of us have previously held the same job as Director of Programs for affiliates of the Arts & Business Council, Inc. Catching up on lives and jobs is something I’m missing here in Texas where I am still at the point of nurturing budding friendships. Our pig out at Extraordinary Desserts, a trendy eatery, was the icing on the cake of a great weekend. (Check out this Blog entry I found about the restaurant.)

As Sunday progressed I found myself getting quite melancholy. Maybe it was the water views, grassy hills, seeing good friends, I’m not sure. Or just that feeling you get on vacation – unreality for a few days. Although I am loving Houston it may be that the impact of moving so far away from my California life is sneaking up on me.

Roasted Coconut Cream Torte from Extraordinary Desserts website. They put
flowers on every plate! I'm salivating, no joke.

December 1, 2005

Darwin Awards vs. Darwin Wars

Do you hear stories or see situations where you think that person should be pulled out of the gene pool? Welcome to the Darwin Awards. "We salute the improvement of the human genome by honoring those who remove themselves from it in really stupid ways. Of necessity, this honor is generally bestowed posthumously." Winners have generously removed themselves from the planet – usually using a very disturbing and often humorous but unintentional method.

This brings me to an exploration of those Darwin fish emblems that folks have on their cars. Stephen commented the other day how he loves that in America one company can make all these emblems, even if their meanings and audiences conflict. The power of commerce. One site calls them fish wars.

November 30, 2005

Vespa A-Go-Go

Instead of a car I'm thinking of getting a Vespa! Sure, I've put about twenty minutes of thought and research into the idea but it could be the new me. If only there were training wheels.

I would have to practice not falling over. Houston's side streets have lots of cracks, since the city is sinking. But, riding my bike around, even at night, I've become confident in my avoiding-the-crack capabilities.

Sexy? Cool? Hip? The ultimate arts manager's vehicle?

Check out these fashions from Parsons School of Design students on the Vespa website.

This Spring Play a Leading Role in the Arts

University of Houston Downtown
Humanities #3325

Mondays 7-9:45pm
January 23 – May 8, no class March 13

-Understand the business of arts
-Explore best management practices
-Meet professional artists and arts managers
-Participate in case studies and team projects
-Apply the creative process
-Develop professional projects and reports that will advance your role in the arts

-Emerging and aspiring arts managers
-Staff of arts organizations
-Board members
-Anyone interested in nonprofit management

Instructor: Amy Kweskin earned her Masters in Arts Administration from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, California and Bachelors degrees in Cinema/Photography and English from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. She recently relocated to Houston from San Francisco where she managed public art installations and trained artists, managers, board members and volunteers in the business of arts.

For further information contact Dr. Thomas Lyttle or 713.221.8118.

November 27, 2005

Choosing Arts Administration Teaching Texts

I learned late last week that the Arts Administration course I am teaching at University of Houston Downtown, is scheduled for Spring 2006. Previously the university told me it was scheduled for Fall 2006 – nearly a year away. I am thrilled to start teaching sooner than later.

Choosing a teaching text has turned into an interesting task. The previous instructor, Sara Kellner, Executive Director of DiverseWorks used Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig assigned reading I had for an undergraduate photography course. Clearly the professor was going through a midlife crisis. He proved it by riding his motorcycle to class one day and giving female students rides on the back.

Or, I could go somewhat esoteric and choose something by Malcolm Gladwell such as The Tipping Point or Blink – contemporary, interesting, useful beyond the course. Another possibility is using these as secondary texts and going with Sara’s as the primary texts. Ultimately my goal is to write my own text and have it published, now jumpstarted with the course date change.

Additionally, I’m considering having my students participate in a blog focused on our coursework and sharing their research and reporting. The one online grad school course I took, accounting, encouraged us to partake in online discussions. I just couldn’t get into it. This was nearly 10 years ago, when the Internet was still a mystery. Maybe I’m thinking too much from a student perspective and need to just take charge and go with what works for me, with the sensitivity to modify a bit as we go along.

Portrait of Malcolm Gladwell. I can get my hair to do that!

The Three Amigos

In the late 1930s Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera spent time in San Francisco and became friendly with a doctor at the San Francisco General Hospital. Dr. Eloesser became a lifelong friend of the two artists and over the course of several decades corresponded with Frida through written letters. She turned to him for advice about aliments, surgeries and her dream to have a baby.

The Museo Frida Kahlo exhibition “Leo Eloesser: la medicina y el dolor en la obra de Frida Kahlo. Una relacion epistolary” which ran from August 26 through November 19, 2005 focused on this relationship. Featured in the signage and publications for the exhibition is a painting called Portrait of Dr. Eloesser by Kahlo. Given to the doctor by Frida, while painted on an extended visit to San Francisco, the painting still hangs in the SFGH today. I had the extreme pleasure of working with the University of California San Francisco Dean’s office of the School of Medicine, which owns the paintings via to facilitate the loan of this and Diego Rivera’s Tortilla Maker, also owned by the University, to the Frida Kahlo Museum. The San Francisco General Hospital Foundation underwrote my work.

This was the first exhibition of any outside objects to come into the museum. Upon Frida’s death Diego signed a proclamation stating that no possessions shall ever leave Frida’s Blue House. This house is now the museum that features her possessions and paintings. Coordinator Hilda Trillo has begun envisioning and curating exhibitions that allow the museum to rotate through objects from the museum’s extensive storage. She couples them with artifacts and paintings of Frida’s from other parts of Mexico and the world.

It was serendipitous that I was contracting with the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation as the Artist Liaison when the Mexican Consulate of San Francisco began their search for the Doctor Eloesser painting. They had heard that it was owned by some institution in San Francisco but had little clue about its location. Having just been asked to raise funds for the restoration of these paintings I thought it would be appropriate to notify that Mexican Consulate of their existence as a possible funding source and to establish relations with Frida’s home country. When I called and spoke with their Cultural Attache, Jonathan Chait, he nearly fell out of his seat. He couldn’t believe that I was calling about the Frida painting that he was assigned to locate. After visiting the paintings the Consul General and his wife Virginia Clausing, who is a former museum administrator, determined that both the Frida and Diego paintings must be in the exhibition, after all it was about the three friends.

From there began months of facilitating negotiations between the Frida Kahlo Museum and UCSF. The timeline was short and the University was very excited to loan the paintings. It was the bureaucracy; paperwork and funding that were at issue. After countless phone calls, emails and collaboration with UCSF School of Medicine Dean’s office staff we were able to confirm the loan of the works. At this point I had already moved to Houston so I was making extended trips back to San Francisco on a regular basis, for this and other consulting projects.

The Frida Kahlo Museum, as a thank you and as an opportunity to view the exhibition and witness the removal of the paintings, brought me down to Mexico City. The remarkable exhibition featured several letters between Frida and the Doctor, six of her medical corsets (which I had seen on a previous visit in May 2005 when the museum took me into her private collection of clothing and corsets) and her fake leg adorned with one of her beautiful boots. The two paintings from San Francisco were featured alongside signage about the Doctor and his work at SFGH. Like Frida and Diego, upon his death he lived in Mexico and was a Communist - giving some insight into how deeply connected these three friends were in many ways.

I was able to take the banner of the exhibition that hung outside the Frida Kahlo Museum back with me to Houston and I will send it to UCSF. Hopefully it will be displayed at SFGH to commemorate the loan of these special works to the museum. Seeing the two paintings removed from the walls of Frida’s house after the exhibition was very emotional. They symbolized the two artists and we thought of them as we watched the historic exhibition disappear into storage as if it never happened. Thankfully the museum is publishing both a Spanish and English version of the letters from Frida to Dr. Eloesser for publication in 2006.

November 25, 2005

Mexico City Photos

Frida Kahlo's Museum. Views of the courtyard and one of the four cats that lives on the grounds. Banner of the Kahlo painting borrowed from SF.

University City - the library with its mosaic mural and the student quad.

The Floating Gardens - each boat has a woman's name. They use to cover the boats with flowers but now they use paper and colorful paints. Manuel my friend and trusty guide.

A Mariachi singing to me - for $7 USD. Our captain pushing the boat through the maze of other ladies as we pass under the bridge.
Me with our lady Carmelita.
The Floating Gardens - looking through all the boats at the start of the day before all the picnicers have arrived.

The view from my hotel window.

November 24, 2005

Someone's Turkey's Burning Up!

While leisurely napping late this morning, and enjoying the balmy weather and light breeze, Stephen and I were awakened by an old man with a southern accent walking down the street saying in a loud but monotone voice, “Someone’s turkey is burning up, someone’s turkey is burning up.” People came out of their houses and agreed that yes, there was a fire and it must be a turkey at the heart of the flames.

This was a surreal way to wake up from a nap. Being truly human we had to go on the deck and check out the scene. Sure enough black smoke in the air billowing from some property nearby.

How many domestic accidents of this nature occur on Thanksgiving? While out last night Boot Stompin’ at a Country Dance Bar (another story) with Victoria and George (from the gefilte fish taco post) we discussed how there are so many more domestic disasters on this holiday now that people are deep frying their turkeys. Imagine the combination of family tension, probably being a bit drunk, kids running around and hot oil on the back porch. Ingredients for an inferno.

These are images from the Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. website on Turkey Fryer product warnings.

New Features on the Blog

In honor of my 100th post I have added new features to TheKweskinReport.

You can now:
  • Post a comment - Stephen wants his chance to respond to my stories. You can also post your comments.
  • Subscribe - Join my listserve and I will send you a notice each time I post something new. No Spam, No Listsharing. Fill in your email in the opt-in field at the top right of the homepage.
  • Links - Click on the updated links bellow the listserve registration and learn more about my friends, family, projects, life in Houston and my former life in SF.
  • Send - Easily forward a posting from my blog to yourself or a friend by clicking on the envelope icon at the end of each entry.

November 23, 2005

Fat Cat Back

While I was in Mexico City and Stephen was in Scotland Tika the cat went to Fat Cat Flats for the duration of our travels. I was worried. Back in California my cousin Ben or my friend Denise would stay with Tika and it was always a love fest. If only I could speak cat – the stories I would hear!

Although she is a cat Tika thinks she’s human. Now that Tika’s nearly 15 she doesn’t like to be left alone. Suddenly people are very important. How un-cat-like of her. She even drinks out of a glass, which amused the boarding house staff. What can you say, she’s a lady.

At the boarding house her little cat condo was located in a room with 10 or so other felines. To keep them happy the staff played soap operas and Enya CDs all day. Really, do cats care? When I arrived they were still growling, hissing and meowing over the choice entertainment.

When I entered the room I said Tika’s name and she didn’t even perk up. All curled up in a little ball she just moved deeper into the fetal position. Great, my cat was traumatized. As soon as the boarding house keeper said her name Tika woke up to say hello. What am I, dried food? Once in the car I opened the top to her cat carrier and she was curled up with her little paw over her face. Feeling totally guilty I raced home to let her be free in her kingdom. As soon as she got out of the carrier the Tika we know and love reappeared.

Now that it is cold, yes cold, in Houston our house is freezing at night. Last night I had the ultimate pleasure of Tika sitting on my face while I slept. I awoke to the unbelievable fragrance of her well seasoned rear. Stephen said it was because she missed us that she got so close, I say it was the cold. In preparation for tonight I have pulled out the heating pad to entice her away from my face. Love only goes so far.

November 21, 2005

The Blending of Mexico and Spain

Mexico has the amazing quality of blending of peoples Indians and Spaniards. It is evident in the faces, traditions, language, arts and past times. In the same day I experienced the floating gardens of Mexico City and the art bazaar of San Angel as well as the love for bullfighting.

The floating gardens are a living history of how the Aztecs turned this lake into a city. The roots of the trees were used as the foundation for land. In this area of Ciuadad Mexico (Mexico City) the roots are still visible. Families rent these boats and float along the cannals. Mariachi, silver salesmen, floating cookeries and photographers float along side the boats and ask you to purchase their goods and services. When you say yes they float along with you. It is a peaceful and festive place on Saturday mornings. Saturday nights it is supposedly a very different scene - party central.

I came across the bullfight unintentionally. After a long walk down Insurgentia Avenue, on which my hotel is located, I took a side street and discovered that the hotel is located just two blocks from Plaza Mexico. Along all sides of the stadium were vendors selling cowboy hats, Spanish style fans, Matidore outfits, and all kinds of foods. It took me a while to figure out what was going on inside since the action seemed to be on the streets. The sites, smells and sounds were overwhelming.

After experiencing this mix of cultures I went back to the hotel room and watched Everybody Loves Raymond. Ah yes, so familiar.

November 18, 2005

Spoiled American

Out on my own for the first time in a country in which I do not speak the language I realize what a pain in the rear I am when travelling with Stephen. To be more ashamed, I am really critical of Scotland and the cold rooms and showers that do not have the water flow to which I am use to (do you like how I am phrasing sentences like I am translating from Spanish? Becomes a fast way to talk here.)

Usually I complain constantly about how this or that is different from what I am expecting. But now that I am on my own I realize how great it is to experience things as they are to their native country. For instance, the hot cereal this morning was delicious grains served hot in fresh milk. Any other time I would complain that I do not want milk. Or the hotel, which smells like smoke in every room - with Stephen I would complain about the smoke. Same with smoking in restaurants or the noise. How spoiled I am.

Stephen has been around the world and has had long term projects and consultancies in many countries. Compared to me he is so much more tolerant. Maybe I am catching up! Wouldn't it be great to travel for the arts? Now to learn Spanish.

Why I am in Mexico City

Let me back up and explain that I am in Mexico City as a guest of the Frida Kahlo Museum. Earlier in the year I facilitated a loan of a Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo set of paintings between the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine and the Museum. On Monday the paintings come down and I am here to view the exhibition prior to their removal.

Alejandra, the Assistant to the Museum Director, hosted me today at the Museum and drove me around the crazy streets to visit two others as well. I was totally amazed by the exhibition which focuses on the relationship between Frida, Diego and Dr. Leo Eloesser who became their friend while working at the San Francisco General Hospital. The exhibition has Frida's medical supplies from her many surgeries, includes numerous photos of the doctor as well as letters between the two life-long friends. Okay, I was really psyched because I was thanked in the exhibition signage. It was totally cool even if they were creative with the spelling of my last name.

We also had the opportuntiy to visit Annahuacalli which is Diego Rivera´s museum - seen in the temple-like photograph. It houses a collection of aztec and mayan artifacts and is constructed of volcanic rocks. Beautiful to see and touch. In it are also some of the sketches for his international murals, many of which have been lost or removed.

Being here reminds me, again, of why Mexico City is one of my favorite places to visit. The people are friendly, even if I don't speak Spanish, the sites are overwhelming, the arts are accessible and the colors are shocking. Plus all the animals - they run around the streets, houses, museums, parks and sometimes pee on the roofs, which I witnessed today both in site and smell.

Reaching out to Stephen

Apoligies for using the blog as a place to write love notes and slip them under the electronic door of the internet. Still no email access. Stephen, you have my hotel phone number. Call when you can. Leave a message. Room 512.

November 17, 2005

Blogging in Spanish

I have arrived in Mexico City and my blog instructions appear in Spanish on this computer.

Ayuda de Blogger

Too bad I do not speak the language and I am having a heck of a time with the key placement on the keyboard. Seems that I can not access my email on this computer either so Stephen if you read this I am here, all is fine, the hotel is nice, Manuel our guide from our last visit is taking me around on Saturday.

Venturing outside before it gets dark.

November 16, 2005

Living the World of Make Believe

Inspired by the Found Magazine website my sister sent me a link to Sideshow Players.

“We take vintage slide collections we’ve found at estate sales, garage sales, and thrift stores and turn the lives of anonymous strangers into pop-rock musical exposes based on their slides.”

Along this same track, living your art, Houston Center for Photography is presenting Bushwick Farms in February, 2006. Here's their approach to living their art...

"We are a married couple obsessed with actualizing the history and genealogy of a fictitious company we created called Bushwick Farms.

At the time of our marriage we lived in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick, known for its desolate industrial landscape. Based on a satire of the neighborhood, we developed a concept for a fictitious company named Bushwick Farms. We began to construct an elaborate history and family tree. The story revolves around a couple that left the pace of a big city to establish a small farm. Between harvests they made pumpkin butter and raised three sons. Over the past four years we have been enacting and photographing members of the Bushwick Farms family tree."

How simple is it to live a stranger's life? Is this the witness protection program for artists? Having always been fascinated with how other people live, but not wanting to play Dungeons and Dragons to find out, I wonder, "am I living the secret life of Amy in Texas?"

November 15, 2005

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Surfing through the gossip websites, which I call brain junk food, I noticed a likeness between Madonna and Sarah Jessica Parker. Maybe it is the chin?

Obviously, as I head towards 37, I'm spending too much time looking in the mirror noticing my own wrinkles, dents, puffiness...

November 14, 2005

Found Magazine

Last night I checked out Found Magazine’s Lone Surfer Tour, which made a stop here in Houston at Aurora Picture Show (more about Aurora in a future post). Found Magazine is the brainchild of Davy Rothbart and Jason Bitner. In it they publish FOUND stuff: love letters, birthday cards, kids' homework, to-do lists, ticket stubs, poetry on napkins, telephone bills, doodles - anything that gives a glimpse into someone else's life. Anything goes...

The title of the tour is named after Davy's new book “The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas”. It was inspired by Davy's witnessing of a guy in the middle of a cornfield in Montana, Kansas, who had balanced a surfboard between two tractors. The Lone Surfer stood on the board and practiced surfing – 1,000 miles from any body of water that offered waves for him to ride.

Davy and his younger brother Peter, a songwriter-guitar player, read some of the outrageous found notes that people have given them over the years. Some inspired Peter to write songs, love ballads and often love-hate ballads, based on their content. The highlight of the evening was their duet on The Booty Don’t Stop, a cover of a homemade rap song they discovered on a tape found on the street.

Their 51 cities in 56 days tour is coming to an end. For your amusement here are samples of found objects from their website. They have an eye for the ridiculous and often obscene.