The Cathedral of Santiago in Saltillo has maintained a powerful, yet pleasing, presence in this colonial city for more than 200 years.

Saltillo, Mexico: color, culture and colonial charm

The Cathedral of Santiago in Saltillo faces the Plaza de Armas where young couples relax on iron benches surrounded by manicured gardens and children chasing pigeons. Streams of water rise from a fountain into gentle arcs in the sunlight, and a young man sells paintings of feathered Indians, the Virgin Mary, and Mexican villages with […]

Continue Reading
A man strolls through the primal beauty of the biodome at Museum of the Desert in Saltillo.

Saltillo’s Museum of the Desert in Mexico explores every aspect of desert life

A cool waterfall rushes over rocks into a pool surrounded by Boston ferns, split-leaf philodendron and magnolias in the desert of the northern Mexican state of Coahuila. Turtles bask on the shore, iguanas stare through a window into the herpetarium in the next room, and dinosaur eggs lay nestled beneath lush foliage. The biodome of […]

Continue Reading
Chiles give traditional dishes their deep red color.

Flavors of Mexico’s indigenous kitchens: the Purepecha of Michoacan

The Purepecha Indians throughout Michoacan have developed a tantalizing culinary heritage for centuries that still awakens the senses with its powerful aromas and flavors. In Uruapan, Morelia and other parts of the state, corundas and huchepos, both Purepecha variations of the tamale, eagerly await the opportunity to extinguish the hunger of visitors while imparting a delicious cultural experience. Of […]

Continue Reading
Juana Cano of Cocucho weaves a huancipo of banana leaves. Hot pots are placed on these to cool.

Michoacan’s master craftspeople and their arts

Abdon Punzo Angel’s thick hands tapped minute details into the menacing snout of the copper dragon that sat immobilized in a vise, its body seeming to squirm. Beside him, another shiny dragon writhed from its base, teeth bared, tongue flicking, the scales across its back bristling. A candle holder sat on its head, another on […]

Continue Reading
Colorful crafts fill doorways and sidewalks in the streets of Capula.

Catrina: skeletons take over the art of Capula, Michoacan

Inspired by the caricatures of lithographer Jose Guadalupe Posada, the elegant Catrina has her origins in Day of the Dead celebrations. Capula’s Catrinas arrived only recently. They stand in the doorways of this small quiet colonial town, Catrinas of every size and description decked out in flowered dresses and clenching flowers in their cratered teeth, plumed […]

Continue Reading
Cecilia painstakingly places tiny clay beads along the rib of a cactus-shaped pot.

Jose Maria Alejos Madrigal: Generations of ceramic creativity in San Jose de Gracia, Michoacan

José María Alejos Madrigal cut delicately through the wet clay, removing a thick slice between the two ribs of a lamp with the distinctive, bulging ridges of a cactus. His wife, Cecilia, sat a few feet away, pressing bits of clay into a round mold to imprint them with tiny indentations, then placed them on […]

Continue Reading
Hermelinda Reyes Ascenio works on a guanengo, or traditional blouse, in the patio of her granddaughter's Cocucho, Michoacan home. © Travis Whitehead, 2009

A Michoacan tradition: the needlework artistry of Hermelinda Reyes

Her bold hands coax the thread through white cotton, relinquishing a fragment of the kaleidoscopic hues within her soul to cavort freely across the snowy landscape. The joints of her fingers moving with a tender dexterity, Hermelinda Reyes Ascencio pulls the filament through the fabric surrounding a needlepoint flower, radiant with shades of violet, magenta, […]

Continue Reading
This sneaky snake, having crawled out of the clay at the encouragement of Antonia Cruz Rafael's hands, coils to to strike. The skilled ceramist caries on the artisan traditions of Ocumicho, Michoacan. © Travis Whitehead, 2009

Antonia Cruz Rafael: the ceramics of Ocumicho, Michoacan

They crept and crawled, oozed and slithered from the clay, prickly spiders and sneaky snakes and pesky lizards darting from the dark wet dough, turtles swimming to its surface, bug-eyed devils rising from the mud, all brought to life by the magic touch of Antonia Cruz Rafael. “This is a borregito (sheep), or chivito (goat),” she said in her […]

Continue Reading