Episode 401 – Miércoles Maravilloso

Our grandkids love Dr. Seuss’ book Wacky Wednesday just as much as our sons did when they were little. The alliteration always appealed to be, so I lookedfor one to go with miércoles, which is Spanish for Wednesday (and no, the Spanish do not capitalize days of the week). Today was more wonderful than wacky, although the décor in the restaurant where we ate lunch might qualify. I’ll let you judge from the pictures Ted and I took.

Our day began with needing to be out of our house for a few hours. The contractors working to complete the gramophone museum being built next door discovered evidence of termites – a definite problem for a place planned to house vintage wooden cabinetry and gorgeous wooden gramophone horns. Since our townhouse shares a wall with its twin, the contractor and museum owners wanted to ensure that our place was also free of pests who might “migrate”. It’s hard to believe that anything could bore through the foot thick stone and mortar walls, but better safe than sorry.

Ted and I had been talking about visiting another couple of small museums very near here anyway, so needing to be out for a few hours made those museums and a late breakfast the order of the day.

We started our day at the Museo de Arte Popular de Yucatan, the Yucatecan folk art museum, located in the beautiful Casa Molina on the Parque de la Mejorada. The casa was built in 1900 for Carmela Molina as a gift from her father, Olegario Molina Solís (a wealthy henequen merchant and one-time Governor of Yucatán) on the occasion of her marriage. The architectural project was carried out by the Italian architect Enrico Deserti. The house is in the Porfirian design of that era, incorporating classical and European elements in a mix unique to turn of the 20th century Mérida.

I can never resist taking photos of the pasta tiles floors that are a quintessential element in the Porfirian style. This house also incorporated stained glass windows and skylights in its staircases, as well as classical columns and exterior balconies, porticos, and carved pediments.

There are six exhibition rooms on the upper floor: Popular Art, Clothing and Millennial Art of Weaving, Yucatecan Image, Sacred Spaces, Diversity in Art, Gift of the Earth, and Enduring Techniques, plus a temporary exhibition hall on the ground floor that currently houses stunningly beautiful 20th century Mexican designer dresses, most of them by Josefa Ibarra, whose interview on a 1970’s television program plays outside the exhibit. Despite the relatively small size of the museum, there were lots of photo-worthy items on display.

Arbol de las Artesanias (Tree of Artesans)by Óscar Soteno Elías (2007) and Arbol de la Vida (Tree of Life) by Modesta Fernândez (20th century)

Fridas (2005) by Guillermina Aguilar Alcántara

Olla ecológica (ecological pot) by Alfonso Castillo Orta (2006)

Cochino (20th century), unknown artist from Tlaquepaque, Jalisco: clay turkey (missed getting the title and artist); and Granada (2006) by Florentino Jimón Barba.

San José (2006) by Augustin Parra Echaurri.

Jaguares (2006) by Gabriel Pérez Rajon, and Alebrije dragón (2005) by Leonardo Linares Vargas.

20th century masks (unknown artists)

If you though you had issues with YOUR pets drinking out of the toilet, just be glad you don’t have jaguars. Clearly someone with a sense of humour decided to exhibit these beautiful ceramic cats in the casa’s original bathroom.

Having enjoyed the folk art exhibits, we next took in the temporary exhibit, focussed on late 20th century Mexican couture clothing, largely by a designer named Josefa Ibarra. If you’re old enough to remember the beautiful dresses featured in the movie Ten, with Bo Derek and Dudley Moore, or the flowy caftan that Glenda Jackson wore in 1973’s A Touch of Class, then you’ve seen Josefa’s work.

The gorgeous fine cotton fabrics, vibrant dyes, intricate stitching, and flowing designs all reminded me of Dr. Linda Bradley, who lectured so brilliantly about textiles during the first leg of our world cruise last year. I was inspired to send her some of these images, as well as keeping them here in our blog. Episode 169 – Fashion and Food.

The stunning satin stitch embroidery on the dress on the right brought to mind my mom’s talent at intricate embroidery. Satin stitch was one of her favourites, so I know firsthand how many hours this kind of work takes.

While a few of the folk art items we saw at the museum could be described as a bit wacky, it was our lunch venue’s choice of art that truly qualified. We ate at GastroBarrio El Templo, where we were just in time to take advantage of their late breakfast menu and enjoy oat and banana pancakes, and French toast with bacon, both served with fresh watermelon and papaya.

The décor intrigued and amused us: a mix of religious themes, celebrity portraits, and tongue-in-cheek pseudo religious images.

Yes, that’s the Last Supper populated by Mexican wrestlers, and yet in the main courtyard the Virgin of Guadalupe is implored to “save us from evil”.

The tabletops are all hand-painted with religious figures, with the one at the top right pleading to the “little god of the Mejorada neighbourhood” to protect the band who comes to eat at El Templo, which maybe seems a wee bit odd.

Hand-painted beer posters, seeming to imply that Tecate (a local Mexican beer) is both the tree of life and “precioussssss”

After breakfast we headed to the Museum of Yucatecán songs, where we learned about the composers and performers of trova, which has become a favourite music style of mine. That deserves es a blog post of its own.

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