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This Oaxacan Artist Is Turning Sneakers Into Her Canvas For Día De Muertos And The Results Are Incredible

As the Coronavirus pandemic has brought to a halt economies and countries around the world, it’s also helped shutter the businesses of artists who rely on galleries and street markets to sell their creations.

Mexico is one of the world’s hardest hit countries and artists in the country have had to get creative to find new clients and customers amid a global pandemic.

However, with the rising popularity of bespoke sneaker collections, one Oaxacan artist seems to have found the winning formula.

A Oaxacan artist has made sneakers her canvas and she’s highlighting her culture in this new medium.

Credit: dorisarellano_pintora / Instagram

Mexico has been one of the world’s hardest hit countries by the Covid-19 pandemic. Coronavirus-related restrictions have indefinitely closed millions of businesses across the country as tourists stopped coming to the country.

As these restrictions have impacted the livelihoods of millions of Mexicans, many have been forced to get creative. For one artist from Oaxaca, Doris Arellano Manzo, the choice was clear: a canvas is a canvas — it could be stretched over a wooden frame or stretched over a pair of athletic shoes.

Like other artists worldwide who are succeeding at beating the pandemic’s economic challenges to their careers, Arellano is learning to adapt — to be less conventional and to think quite literally a bit smaller: she now paints her art on sneakers.

Thanks to the pandemic, Arellano felt she needed to reinvent herself and her craft.

It all started in July when Arellano and her daughter Frida – a communications and social media professional, realized that Arellano needed to think outside the traditional. It was obvious that museums and galleries would likely remain closed for sometime, so how else could they bring her art to her clients?

“Since I love to paint, I can paint for you on a large canvas just as well as I can on a small one,” she recently told the newspaper Milenio. “As far as I’m concerned, while you have me here with my paints and paintbrushes, I’m thrilled.”

Each pair of shoes is unique, she said, “because it’s all done by hand, not by machine.” She describes her style as “traditionalist contemporary,” and says she is drawn to evoking the rites and customs of Oaxacan traditional culture.

Her Día de Muertos collection is garnering international attention.

Credit: dorisarellano_pintora / Instagram

Arellano’s latest collection features shoes with colorful abstract designs in bright cempasúchil orange, with lush floral wreaths and, of course, featuring the iconic Día de Muertos Catrina.

The collection was timed perfectly since so many are looking for non-traditional art amidst a very non-traditional year.

Her latest collection of work, all painted on athletic footwear, is entitled after the celebration she’s commemorating, Día de Muertos.

She says her collections are an homage to traditional Oaxacan festivities that couldn’t take place in 2020.

Credit: dorisarellano_pintora / Instagram

In addition to her recently released Día de Muertos collection which has been very popular, Arellano has created art with other Oaxacan themes.

In fact, when she first began her art-themed sneaker collection in July, at Friday’s suggestion, her sneaker art was based on the enormous festival of Guelaguetza. The Guelaguetza is a traditional Oaxaca cultural festival that had to be canceled this year due to the pandemic.

In some ways, she said, the enforced isolation of the pandemic has been a huge challenge for artists like herself, but in other ways, it’s actually been familiar.

“The work of an artist is a bit enclosed,” she admitted. “We go out when there are exhibits, when we have to go introduce ourselves in public or do interviews.”

Still, she said, the pandemic caught the art community flatfooted.

“Artists don’t have a way to show their work during the pandemic,” she said. “It’s all been halted, and we have to go back and look for new formats for the public to see what we are doing.”

It seems like 2020 has been the year of handcrafted sneaker lines.

Although Arellano is working hard to infuse her own culture into her art and her new sneaker line, she isn’t the first to do so. Just this year Nike released its take on the traditional holiday with a Día de Muertos-themed sneaker collection that had fans of both the holiday and the sneaker company excited for.

Then we got news that Bad Bunny was releasing a custom Crocs line – which flew off the shelves and are now selling for more than four times the original retail price. Plus, recent rumors say that Bad Bunny will also be launching an Adidas collaboration at some point in early 2021.

People have long been obsessed with bespoke sneaker collections, but thanks to the pandemic people are looking for new ways to support artists and satisfy their shopping cravings. We can’t think of a better way than by supporting local Indigenous artists like Arellano.

You can get more information here.

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The Romance Between Frida Kahlo And Chavela Vargas Gets Renewed Attention As Long Lost Love Letters Are Uncovered

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The Romance Between Frida Kahlo And Chavela Vargas Gets Renewed Attention As Long Lost Love Letters Are Uncovered

Jorge Silva / Getty Images

Frida Kahlo’s paintings perfectly show the artist’s whirlwind of emotions throughout her life. Her art gives a look into her passions, her pains and her loves, which went far beyond Diego Rivera. 

It’s long been known that the prolific artist had many loves throughout her life, both men and women, and including many major personalities of their time. Everyone from Tina Modotti and the politician León Trotsky were on that list in addition to her longtime companion, Diego Rivera. However, one of Kahlo’s great loves and of whom little is said was the singer Chavela Vargas.

Chavela, who was 12 years younger than Frida, spoke on several occasions about the love she had for Kahlo when her musical career began to take off, while she was “a child.” And thanks to recently discovered love letters we have a new perspective on this little known relationship.

New love letters give us details into the romance between Frida Kahlo and Chavela Vargas.

Although Chavela had claimed to have destroyed all of the love letters she received from Frida Kahlo, new love letters have recently been discovered that paint a new light on the romance.

There is one letter Kahlo had written to Carlos Pellicer, a Mexican poet, to express her feelings about the singer. She told him that after meeting Chavela she felt attracted to her from the very first moment – in some pretty steamy language.

“Today I met Chavela Vargas. Extraordinary, lesbian, what’s more, I wanted her erotically. I don’t know if she felt what I did. But I think she’s a liberal enough woman, that if she asks me, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to undress in front of her. How many times do you not want to get laid and that’s it? She, I repeat, is erotic. Is it a gift that heaven sends me?”, wrote Kahlo.

It was shortly after Kahlo wrote that letter that Chavela went to live with her and Diego at La Casa Azul. In another recently discovered letter, Vargas writes – of her time at Casa Azul – that she felt very happy and in love, as well as loved by Kahlo.

“She taught me a lot of things and I learned a so much. Without giving away too much, I held the sky with my hands, with every word, every morning,” she said.

The lovers had an intense relationship that has fascinated fans to this day.

The two had met at one of the many parties Kahlo and Rivera would host at their home in Casa Azul. The couple were prolific entertainers and often threw extravagant parties.

Before her death, Vargas detailed that night’s meeting.

“A painter friend invited me. She said: ‘There’s a party at Frida’s house tonight. Shall we go?’ I went and the atmosphere was full of people. The night passed, we sang, everyone danced, everyone entertained,” Vargas says in the documentary Chavela, released in 2017.

“I was in a daze when I saw her face, her eyes. I thought she couldn’t be a being from this world. Her eyebrows together were a swallow in flight. Without yet having the maturity of a woman in me, since I was a very young girl, I sensed that I could love that being with the most devoted love in the world, the strongest love in the world,” said the singer about Frida.

Although the romance didn’t last long thanks in part to the painter’s relationship with Diego Rivera.

Credit: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Vargas confessed that the romance didn’t last for a long time on the account of having to share the painter’s love with Diego Rivera. According to Vargas, one day Kahlo simply decided to abandon her.

“My words possibly hurt her a lot when I told her I was leaving and she told me: ‘I know. It is impossible to tie you to anybody’s life. I can’t tie you to my crutches or to my bed. Go away!’ And one day I opened the door and didn’t come back,” Vargas said.

Although the singer never spoke about whether she had intimate relationships with the painter, the romance, as well as the great love and attraction they felt for each other is something that cannot be denied.

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Cuban Government Backtracks On Historic Deal With Protesters Just Days After Reaching An Agreement

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Cuban Government Backtracks On Historic Deal With Protesters Just Days After Reaching An Agreement

Alexandre Meneghini / Getty Images

It seemed that many Cuban’s hopes for greater freedom of expression – particularly in the art world – seems to have been dashed again. In less than 24 hours after apparently agreeing to meet several demands from dissident artists, the government broke at least three of the five agreements in had made.

Freedom of expression is a hot topic in Cuba, where the communist regime severely limits what artists can say and produce.

But even more rare: public protest. That’s what makes these recent marches in Havana so important, the island hasn’t seen anything like it in decades. And as almost on script, the Cuban government flipped on its public reaction to the growing movement, instead blaming it on “U.S. imperialism” and foreign intervention.

Cuban officials have completely condemned the protest movement in a full 180º change of attitude.

Over the weekend, Cuba saw unprecedented protests led by dissident artists and creatives – known as the San Isidro movement – seeking greater freedom of expression. And although it seemed early on that the group may have made progress (the government agreed to several concessions), those hopes went up in flames as the government launched an all-out rhetorical assault.

Shortly after the meeting between protesters and officials, the protest came to a peaceful end with leaders thinking they achieved what they had set out to do, and with a meeting to discuss the issues further.

But just hours later the government called in the top U.S. diplomat on the island, charge de affairs Timothy Zúñiga-Brown, for a scolding over “grave interference in Cuba’s internal affairs” as state television ran a 90-minute special attacking members of the protest group and broadcasting visuals of their interactions with U.S. diplomats and Miami exiles.

“Sovereign Cuba accepts no interference … The revolutionary ones will fight back,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel said in one of a series of Twitter posts accusing the San Isidro movement of being a “reality show” on social media created by “U.S. imperialists.”

What originally seemed like progress now seems like business as usual for the communist regime.

Credit: Yamil Lapage / AFP / Getty Images

It seemed, at least for a few short hours, that there was a real chance at bolstering artistic freedom in Cuba. The group of protesters, known as the San Isidro movement, gathered outside the culture ministry, leading Fernando Rojas, the deputy culture minister, to invite in a group of 30 of them. The meeting lasted for more than four hours, those present have said, and resulted in a promise of greater freedoms for artists.

Writer Katherine Bisquet told the press afterward that there had been a “truce for independent spaces” where activists could meet and talk, and that further discussions were promised.

“I cannot emphasize enough that this kind of public protest, with hundreds of people standing outside a ministry for 14 hours, is unprecedented,” Cuban-American artist Coco Fusco told Artnet News. “The fact that government officials conceded to a meeting is in itself a victory for the artists and a sign of weakness on the part of the government.”

The government had also agreed to urgently review the case of a detained member of the San Isidro crew and a rapper sentenced this month to eight months in jail on charges of contempt. It also agreed to ensure independent artists in the future were not harassed.

Cuban officials blamed the U.S. for stirring up dissent.

Shortly after the government launched a verbal assault on the group, it also accused the U.S. of helping them. Officials at the Foreign Ministry summoned the top U.S. diplomat in Cuba, Chargé d’Affaires Timothy Zuñiga-Brown, and complained about U.S. “intervention.”

At Sunday’s rally, Díaz Canel said that “Trumpistas” (referring to the Trump administration) and the “anti-Cuban mafia that are now ‘Trumpistas'” (referring to Cuban American Trump supporters in Miami) “had on their agenda that before the year ends, the revolutions of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela have to fall.”

Jake Sullivan, Joe Biden’s national security adviser, tweeted Sunday: “We support the Cuban people in their struggle for liberty and echo calls for the Cuban government to release peaceful protestors. The Cuban people must be allowed to exercise the universal right to freedom of expression.”

Thanks to an imploding economy in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, Cuba is experiencing an unprecedented crisis.

Credit: Sven Creutzmann/Mambo photo/Getty Images

Cuba is going through dire shortages in food and basic goods amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has practically halted tourism to the island, on top of the Trump administration’s harsh sanctions.

Against that backdrop, García said, “I think the government should think about these things and view dialogue as a valid option to avoid a major disaster.”

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