–Cascada de Flores–Homenaje a Rodolfo Morales

oil pastel on gessoed matt board
35 x 30 cm
In 2005, just a few months before I returned to Oaxaca a second time to spend a half-year painting, I was introduced by the Institute for Unpopular Culture to Arwen Lawrence de Castellanos, a member of the Mexican folklorico group, Cascada de Flores. I agreed to create artwork for a forthcoming CD, and when I arrived in Oaxaca, I found myself especially moved by the art of Rodolfo Morales (one of  “Los Tres Grandes”–the three major Mexican artists of the time, Morales, Francisco Toledo, and Rufino Tamayo, all either from or with strong ties to Oaxaca). I had finally located a book of his work that I had searched for for a couple of years, and as I was immersed in its images, I felt so strongly its kinship to the music of Cascada de Flores–a tenderness and beauty that appeared to be naive, but was actually incredibly accomplished, a lush, dark underpainting of color and sound, an aching quality and a celebratory quality. So I let each speak to the other as I made this piece.
Cascada de Flores, for a number of reasons, was never able to use it. And I left my beloved book in Oaxaca, thinking I would be back for it within the year. More than six years later, I have to assume that it, my artwork, whatever else I left–and I left a whole studio–is gone. Maybe some of it will come back to me. Maybe some of it is reminding loved ones there of me, holding a place for us, a tether that might help me get back. But whatever else comes of it all, a deep, appreciative and enriching friendship with Arwen has grown from this project, Cascada’s music always returns my heart immediately to Oaxaca, and I am glad.

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