Colors of Oaxaca

Oaxaca state in southern Mexico has a unique spirituality that is expressed in its colors and crafts. Possibly the most authentic part of Mexico, numerous indigenous people gather in the city of Oaxaca, located where three mountain ranges meet. The native cuisine, embroidered clothing, colonial architecture, pre-columbian archeological sites and artisanal crafts reflect this melding of ancient cultures.

On a recent visit, the city’s energy and culture grab you immediately. You hear languages that go back millennia, eat foods that are grown in hundreds of surrounding villages, and see everyday clothing that expresses its heritage through colorful embroidery.

Mexico’s Artistic Embrace

What defines Mexican art? Are the murals of Diego Rivera and the art carved on the pyramids of Teotihuacan equally vital? Do the crafts native to indigenous villages throughout the country influence contemporary visual artists? The colors of the homes in every city, architecture that features volcanic rock, archaeological sites that provide examples of ancient creativity for the 21st century – all of this provides inspiration for Mexico’s artistic environment.

I was fortunate to visit Mexico recently, experiencing for the first time the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) in Oaxaca. This important holiday showcases Mexican artistic expression through food, flowers, music, rituals and costumes

Tanglewood Memories

Grandma led me to the Press Gate at Tanglewood where her dear friend Louie Esterman held court. Louie stopped us instead of waving us through – “I want you to meet Leonard Bernstein’s children: Jamie, Alex and Nina.” At ten years old, I wasn’t exactly sure who they were, but we nodded to each other. I could tell that Louie thought it was a special encounter.

My mother grew up in Pittsfield, next to Lenox, which is the location of Tanglewood in the beautiful Berkshires in western Massachusetts. As a child, my grandparents Anna and Nathan Bass began taking me to hear concerts at the summer home of the Boston Symphony because of my violin studies. I loved the beautiful environment and enjoyed the music.

Enchanting Chinese Ceramics

Osaka, Japan, is usually off the radar of most tourists. It is Japan’s second largest city and contains many of the advantages of Tokyo on a slightly smaller scale. The food scene is one of the most exciting in Japan, with local specialties such as okonomiyaki (a version of a Japanese pizza cooked on a griddle with your choice of ingredients), unusual fish from the ocean nearby, and small restaurants that present Kushikatsu cooking of seemingly endless ingredients grilled on skewers.

The arts scene is also important, with three local symphony orchestras, lots of chamber music, and local theatre and opera such as Bunruku which combines traditional music with life-sized puppets in 500 year-old stories.

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