“The spirit of Water is One”

Faced with what seemed an impossible task, artist Jason Botkin and I met in the kiosk; the center of all activities in the “Water is One” project. Alarm was in the air, but sobriety outplayed as we contemplated the challenge of finishing the top section of the Dome, with time rapidly running out.

Eleven days of grueling work under the sun had taken its toll on the whole team, and with less than ten days left, we faced the possibility that the crowning circle would rest unfinished. So, Jason and I promoted a conversation with various members of the crew, with the goal of finding a solution. The thought of leaving the top unfinished was heartbreaking, but the undertaking was hard and risky. Through a process of heated brainstorming and safety considerations, we finally landed on a solution, and Jason stepped up to the plate.

Days later, the air beneath the shadow of this great structure hung thick with the incense of copal, the vibration of the armadillo shell, mixed with powerful melodious prayer. Don Manuel Rodríguez, Capitan General of the indigenous “Conchero” dancers, was leading his group in the blessing of each artist and mural, rounding about the Dome in a clockwise circle describing wholeness. Apprehension and uncertainty had transformed into unrestrained celebration upon the completion of our herculean collective task…on time and in excellent form!

A natural question arose; what possesses one to take a project of this sort on?

The answers come easily to those involved. This work offers a maximum intensity of life experience, while engaging the community with a meaningful dialogue. Each brushstroke promotes a contemplative state on the search for personal and collective identity. All artworks express commitment to the survival of humanity in the face of the global environmental threats to our precious water and ecosystems. Every voluntary participant represent an expansion in the exploration of cultural freedom. We did it to inspire the positive transformation of our reality, we did it because it’s good and because we can. And we did!

Among the dozens of generous participants, I wish to write about the contribution of my friend Jason Botkin: his daily sweeping of the floor at the artists’ shared house, the long hot days dangling from the end of a rope up in the sky, the losing of seven kilos over three weeks of hard work, and the passionate way he plead his case to finish the dome.

Yes, we were together in front of the kiosk, joining hands when agreement was found, despite the feelings of discomfort some had in the safety risks involved. And we shaped a magical pact between warriors. Jason took the challenge and manifested the spirit of the project as a whole: to offer talent, life and resources in the creation of something impeccable, to gift an example of extraordinary dreams made manifest, to actively foster a deeply cohesive communal creation.

There are great works of urban art in the world today. Every aficionado holds in their mind a prioritized list of favorite pieces. On my subjective list, our Dome is in first place with its celestially vaulted sphere planted firmly on the ground, connecting the lives of heaven and earth by the thread of a Foucault’s pendulum suspended in the air. This is the poem that embodies the “Water is One” spirit, which is also the poem that our ancestors left to give cohesion to the many Mexican identities: “In the navel of the Moon, in the center of the Earth, where we offer our hearts to the Sun”.

This majestic mural of murals – itself a piece composed of many pieces – is a meta-narrative defining a new yet paradoxically ancient paradigm: inspire the people to exercise its collective power to create and transform reality, and how this is far greater than anyone can achieve by working for himself.

Édgar Sánchez,

Founder, Nueve Arte Urbano

 

 

WE could also use this quote perhaps From a Cry for Justice, a booklet/ pamphlet edited by Leslie F. Orear, in 1972:

The mural movement…is a celebration of love, laced with anger; a communication of history focused on tomorrow; a record of the struggle re-strengthened by new purpose; a reception for the people’s heroes containing a challenge to be ourselves heroic. By finding and fulfilling this role, the mural movement has given new meaning to art, new meaning to artists. It has expanded the struggle for civil rights, for human rights, from the streets to the walls of the community, where it proudly holds a mirror up to human nature both as a record of the past and as a target for the future.

 

NOTES

 

Really interesting article on “meta-art”.  The term does exist, though few outside the circles of the hallowed halls of the  very esoteric “Fine Arts” actually understand it, and those on the inside seem at odds with each other.  Over to you 😉

 

https://www.widewalls.ch/meta-art-metamodernism/

 

here’s a more positive take on the subject you might find interesting…it’s way more up our mutual alleys!

http://metaartist.blogspot.com/2012/02/what-is-meta-art.html

 

 

 

MANTRA

“1. Mural at the base:
The work of Mantra is a true visual delight. Its first wall reminds us of the importance of water as a generator of life and the death and despair of its absence. It is located at the western end of the building, in a narrow and cloudy passage that connects two important avenues of the city, surrounded by grey walls and floors stained by years of walking. The Mantra altarpiece is erected with grace and color, as nature does on a daily basis, as if flowers had bloomed on those walls and a monarch butterfly reigned over the alley. On the left, a sea turtle skull lies on a fishing net, as in Tre Packard’s original photograph. The transformative power of the art of Mantra has accentuated the enormous force of nature to make everything bloom, pristine, even in the darkest alley.

2. Mural in the dome:
The technical ability of Mantra is almost disconcerting. However, it is from the metaphor contained in the mural that the strength to move the passer-by is born. The piece identifies us with nature, to be more human. We see a huge female presence that gazes with delight at the fertile nature. It is an allegory about biodiversity, with the purpose of showing that humanity has the capacity to interact with the natural environment in complete harmony and balance. The main character is inspired by the female deities of water in Mesoamerica and represents nature in its original splendor. From the east side of the dome, the Mantra piece dances with the west side, the lizard Cipactli beset by the pollution of Goal and Ryper, completing the dance game of the four directions of the world on the Dome and under the Sun. With a quetzal on his shoulder, a salamander, a butterfly, a whale shark and other natural beings representing the wealth of the world connected by the same element – water.”

SERMOB

“””Traced on the façade that gives access to the Science and Technology Museum of Foucault’s pendulum, Sermob’s mural speaks of the indivisible in the world. Sea creatures merge with the human archetype, highlighting the way in which the species that inhabit the earth are irretrievably linked; we are all one universal entity and the actions of one species can profoundly affect the existence of the other. In this way the angles in the shape and the watery figures that maintain the background composition direct our view upwards.

At the top of the piece, a person balances two buckets, symbolizing Tlaloc and the difficulty of bringing water to people. With this metaphor of Sermob, each inhabitant becomes a sort of Tlaloc, a god whose strength has been reduced before the action of others and whose need to bring water to those he loves plunges him into difficult tasks. Cities are no strangers to this, when the great mass becomes a single entity with a name; the Tlaloc that carries water to them becomes a snake hundreds of kilometres long, like the “”Aqueduct II””, until it reaches the inhabitants of the city who seem to live with naivety without knowing that perhaps in less than three years it will probably be an act of hope to open a tap.

The piece by the artist, originally from Iztapalapa, but who has lived in Querétaro for years, finishes off with vegetal accents of nopal whose importance has been vital in the life of the citizens since the foundation of the city and whose existence would be impossible without water. Sermob’s sharp and neat line defines an almost surgical precision that attracts visitors inside the children’s museum of “”the pendulum””, where behind the smile of every little boy awaits an inspired citizen who will be part of the generation of change agents that the country needs, those who will make Tlaloc its lightest burden.

Curiot Tlapazotl

“Enigmatic and captivating, Curiot Tlapazotl’s mural shows a composition in which a bulbous window stands out that functions as a doorway into a three-dimensional space inside the dome, in which a toroidal fountain of life unfolds that is born from the navel of a parturient female figure. The toroid, also known as the three-dimensional curve, generates the illusion of being an interior space, a glimpse into the secrets that the dome hides. In the intimacy of the room built by the Michoacan artist we see Chalchiuhtlicue, the pre-Hispanic deity of fertility, love and fresh water, consort of Tlaloc, god of atmospheric waters. It floats on the air while from its belly are born the rivers and streams that feed the lakes and seas and flood the room showing the love of nature for all living creatures. Composed with the colors of the Keretano sunset, this mural dances from the south with the piece by Paola Delfín in the north of the dome. Thus we have Chalchuhitlicue and Cosijo-Tláloc, linked from north to south, one concave and the other convex, in a creative axis where both pre-Hispanic metaphors of mystery meet once more, after centuries, to speak to the people about life, water, roots and unity.

Demencia Beivide

The work of Demencia expresses a powerful message between what is happening and the consequences of our actions. While sea creatures begin to disappear, showing only their bones as a nostalgic reminder of the wealth that once kept the earth; two human figures conceive ideas that, reasoned in the light of causal consciousness, could save the world from thirst and death. Career designer, the work of dementia has light auctions that have gears, arrows and other elements that represent the need for humanity to work together to save our ecosystems, so a torrent of colors is released from the two human forms, are the ideas that can save the world.
“”We are the beginning and the end, we are water, and we are all colorful water that comes out of our intimate thoughts.

Jason Botkin

Hibridación Cultural:

Cultural Hybridization:

On the east façade of the dome base, Jason Botkin composed a highly detailed work illustrating
the two distinct halves of a long integrated Mexican identity.

On the left, evoking the colonial conquest of the Spanish, we are confronted by the penetrating gaze of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of the poor and of animals. To the right, sharing the same human form, but looking off into a future, sits the head of Quetzalcoatl, the “feathered serpent”. Of the traditional Mexican deities, he was the most powerful force of nature: “He was the wind; he was the guide, the road sweeper of the rain gods, of the masters of the water, of those who Brought rain” (From the Nahuatl language).

In the flanking side vignettes, an additional pair of hands impart to us the power of the yogic hand Mudras, connecting our personal vitality with the universal cosmic energy, through the position of hands held in ‘blessing’. Emanating from the flowing robes below emerge the poor and thirsty, gravely imploring us to take action in solving the collective challenges we face as a species, and reminding us that the best way to face the future is to honor and deeply understand our ancestral legacies.

The Aztec Sun Stone (or Calendar Stone)

During the creation of the murals for “Agua es Una”, an intercultural team of artists set out to bring to the world powerful messaging concering the health of water on this planet, from desert to oceans.

While falling rain is an important part of the water cycle, for a festival and the many artists encouraging paint to dry, it presented a major setback. Rising to the challenge of time constraints plus changed plans, and having only just finished an extended series of panels at the ground level, artist Jason Botkin (Canada) assembled buckets, brushes, and the support of an expert rappel safety team to cap this monumental altarpiece.

To conceptually underpin the project and its relationship to the community in a historical and contemporary context, Botkin and festival director Édgar Sánchez landed on a rendering of the Aztec calendar, with its twenty days and radiant sunshine, which now shines at the highest and most hidden part of the dome. This is a reciting an enormously complex work, conceived by an ancient culture’s greatest minds, rendered not in stone but with brush. It is a mystery that fully reveals itself only in flight, like the tens of thousands of birds that flock above this crowning piece of Foucault’s Pendulum at dusk every night.

At times, to perceive order in the chaos going on around us, we must elevate ourselves and one another, to realize a grander picture…one connecting Heaven and Earth, unifying the four pillars of heaven, and resonating with the pre-Hispanic worldview: at the navel of the Moon, in the center of the Earth, where hearts rise to the Sun.

Resting at the very the top of the dome, at the heart of the Aztec Sun Stone, Jason recreated the 4 pillars of heaven according to Mesoamerican mythology.

Before the creation of nature and the universe, there existed a Toltec diety known as
“Ometeotl”, who raised four sons, the “Tezcatlipocas”, or the four cardinal points of the cosmos. Mythology assures that thanks to them and to the sacrifice of the crocodile Cipactli, there was space to create all things and natural phenomena in the four lower levels of the sky. The pillars support the sky from the four principal points (North, South, East, West), which correspond to the four elements; water, fire, earth, and wind. Jason’s pillars also symbolize the pathways through which atmospheric forces, and particularly rain, travel.

Detai of cultural hibridation

Nosego

“Cultural Freedom is the ability of people to define their own identity and evaluate their individual culture. The exploration of Noségo, an artist from Philadelphia, led him to paint on his wall Oshun, the African deity (Yoruba) of love and fresh water, which in Cuba is synthesized in the Virgin of Charity of Copper. In her Sunbathing Mural, an African woman comes out of the water and raises her hands to create a spell of light and love, a creation that will produce other creations. Life illuminates with the power of the fresh waters, refreshes with its sweet protection and speaks of an act of love for nature.

Nosego’s mural is a testimony of the life of a person who lives in the small moments. When his elongated hand and strong arm hold a brush, the artist finds himself working on a work more than just performing a beautiful soliloquy in the symphony of his life, rarely can such freedom be appreciated in the stroke, perhaps that is why the smile on Oshún’s face is serene and cheerful, showing that his author was truly free within his painting.”

 

Paola Delfín

“””Among all the natural phenomena that are linked to water, rain is probably the most emblematic and significant for the human species. Like the rain that is sometimes heavy and sometimes light, Paola Delfín moved nonstop for 13 days on the dome of Focault’s pendulum to invoke with her painting the Tláloc Zapoteca: Pitao Cosijo. His rain deity raises a glance to heaven, a pair of hands hold a heart, as delicate as Paola’s stroke, symbolizing the gift of life, while a waterfall flows reminding us of the connection between water, life and the offering that in return we human beings make with our work. A third eye awakens on the forehead of the deity, looking at the truth of things, and at its side ornamental plants bloom in a monumental work that makes the heart beat.

The Relationship between Paola and Cosijo, describes an intimate romance between an artist and her work, created under the scorching Queretaro sun, during 13 long days of work. While Paola initially confessed to underestimating the structure, like the rain soaking through a desert, the work of the Capitalina filled the structure to the brim to bathe the north face of the festival’s emblematic Water is One dome. The work is a monumental work of art that invites us to remember the roots of Mexicans and the care of water as a catalyst for life. The piece also stands out for the way in which it took the author out of her comfort zone, leaving the delicate lines of the female figure briefly to address the roughness of a stone god that seems to be carved on the stone of the Dome and whose heart resounds in the sky with lightning. Behind this northern wall, at the southern end of the dome, Curiot Tlapazotl paints the consort of Tlaloc, the female deity Chalchiuhtlicue with whom he begins a dance of life, love and prosperity.”

Pogo

“Within the natural conflicts of life, those generated by man are becoming more and more frequent and it would seem that humanity is struggling to destroy itself. The Pogo mural describes the conflict between opposing forces. On the one hand, water and nature push with force and life, containing the voracity of a beast of death that attacks from the other extreme, enveloped in sewage, garbage and human ambition.

Pogo represents a generation of illustrators and designers who are taking responsibility for the things that happen in the cities where they live and find their power in the realization of pieces with a strong meaning, in such a way that they capture the attention of the passer-by and stir their ideas until they make him reflect deeply.

Pogo’s high-contrast graphics describe a sincere and honest concern to try to be the best version of ourselves for the Earth, showing the best face to every problem and, like Pogo when making its wall, respond to every challenge with a huge smile.”