showering last friday morning wasn't accompanied, for once, by music streaming out of the ipod. a five a.m. serenade for the benefit of a neighbor filled the front of our house, too, with the sounds of strings and voices crooning out mariachi melodies. we were up early for a trip to the bus terminal, where allison would be arriving on an overnight ride from guadalajara. at that streetlamp-glowing, wee little hour, we were pleasantly surprised to open our ears and rise with a little bit of that mexican art for everyone.
allison and i were destined to be friends when we spied each other's ribbon-edged, million-yards-of-fabric skirts taking up inordinate amounts of dorm room closet space in the year 2000. we were in vermont, pledged to speaking spanish, with an affinity for mexico that reached all the way to our wardrobes. it was only a matter of time before those skirts would be a small part of art for everyone, too--whorls of ribbon coupled with the staccato sounds of heels and the music of "la negra."
we spent this past weekend with allison and made friends with some folks that she knew, patricio and i delighting in the fact that nary a translation was needed, grateful for the spanish fluency in our crew of a native english majority.
and we saw more art meant for everyone. though admission was paid for my favorite places, it was minimal, and worth every peso for the art's preservation. the halls of both the mexica and the maya at the museum of anthropology were, for me, palaces of fascination; images carved in stone and images baked into exquisite pieces of clay, rife with symbols that speak of times we conjecture about, but on some level, managed to understand.
we walked past things perhaps seen or even touched by cuauhtémoc himself, and then saw him, bigger than life, on an upper-level wall inside the palacio de bellas artes. tortured in an attempt to reveal a great treasure's location, his image and those of the entire composition held us captive and somehow tortured, too--until patricio's joke-telling prowess saved us from any danger of overwhelming angst. david alfaro siqueiros, a 20th century creator and advocate of what i now call art for everyone, realized this work--it's content and, to a degree, it's style reminding me of the lost empire whose ruins we saw the day before.
that night, in a club whose centuries-old, exposed-stone walls betrayed the presence of old aztec pyramid stones within, some of us stood on chairs and shook our things to a group whose songs have been circulating on the radio.
it was a weekend of friends, and a weekend of all kinds of public art. i think everyone would do good to have at least a little bit of both; their powers can connect us to the past, the present, and the future. that seems like a kind of salvation.