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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 4th decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Street Art in Oaxaca City, Mexico

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

There is another side to Oaxaca City other than the international cuisine hub we have been focused on.

There is a significant amount of street art all over the walls of neighborhoods, cafes, and in tiny alleyways.

Since we generally go to this beautiful city or to the beach, it is easy to overlook the discontent that the residents of Mexico's 3rd poorest state stuff underground.

The street art tells this story.

Street art in Oaxaca City, Mexico

The sign says "Welcome to Oaxaca"

Even though the sign says "Welcome to Oaxaca" it is incongruent to have rebellious fists in protest shoving up from below against a floral type background.

Most development projects are planned for the capital and the surrounding area, but apparently, little has been planned for the very rural areas. The state lacks the resources to implement much to help those living outside this prosperous city.

Maria Sabina and her healing mushrooms

Maria Sabina was a curandera (a healer) who lived in the Sierra Mazatec town of Huautla de Jimenez in the state of Oaxaca. She is famous for sharing the healing properties of psilocybin mushrooms with the likes of music legends such as Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, and Peter Townsend. They came to "trip out" on the local magical mushrooms in the 1970s.

Sharing her native culture with the west changed both her town and the West as well. Neither were the same again.

Street art in Oaxaca City, Mexico

More mushroom art

The sacred ceremonies of the Mazateca are called Velas and are considered to be a path to knowing God. Psilocybin mushrooms are used by the indigenous  to cure diseases of both the mind and the body.

Maria Sabina was eventually driven from her town and lived alone up in the mountains. Her son was killed as payback for the upset she brought to her village, and she was labeled a traitor to her tribe for sharing these secrets. 

The tiny mushrooms wearing halos in this painting are called "the little saints."

Street art in Oaxaca, Mexico

Another dramatic street painting featuring corn, artist Francisco Toledo and a native woman

 

 

 

 

I don't know who the beautiful native woman is on the left, but the man on the right is the famous artist Francisco Toledo.

Corn is also considered to be sacred and this corn plant is like the Tree of Life. The regenerating powers of the snake wrapping itself around the corn stalk are pictured and a dragon/lizard creature at the bottom.

There is a variety of themes found in street art. Some are political, some more inspirational, but all very striking for sure.

Street art in Oaxaca City, Mexico

Street art can take a full block

The best way to experience the street art of Oaxaca City is to wander through every alley and cobble-stone street in search of your own art walk. The art is not hard to find, it's "everywhere."

Spreading messages by painting them on walls has been a long tradition in Mexico, but it really exploded in Oaxaca recently.

Some art is done in a woodcut print form - most of that is political in some way. The beautifully painted art seems to be more traditional of the tribes and their values.

Street art Oaxaca, Mexico, Emiliano Zapata

Emiliano Zapata, also known as the 'Caudillo del Sur'

This piece of street art is an example of local printers utilizing their excellent skills of woodblock carving. It's a completely different style of wall art, pasting up posters all over town.

Zapata was one of the men who fought for reform in the growing fields. He wanted both the land to be respected and also the rights of the peasants.

 Along with Francisco Villa, Zapata is the icon of the Mexican Revolution who promised his people justice for losing their properties under the dictator Porfirio Diaz.

Zapata's weakness was women. He had relationships with 9, producing 16 children and 42 grandchildren.

One of his famous quotes is: "It is better to die standing than to live a lifetime down on my knees". 

This is similar to Patrick Henry's "Give me Liberty or give me death" from his speech in 1775.

The desire for freedom runs deep in humans.

Revolutionary thowing hand sanitizer, Oaxaca Street Art, Oaxaca, Mexico

Masked man holding hand gel sanitizer

Instead of throwing a Molotov cocktail, this revolutionary poster was updated to reflect today's culture. He is throwing a bottle of hand sanitizer instead.

ASARO (Assembly of Revolutionary Artists of Oaxaca) has continued to influence Oaxaca’s city street art. Their work recycles popular imagery remixed with revolutionary heroes, indigenous symbolism, rebellion, and images of corrupt politicians.

Face of man and guitars painted on wall, Oaxaca, Mexico

Mexican hero

Not being fully versed in all of Mexico's heroes and villains, I can't tell if this man is another depiction of Zapata or some famous musician.

Female combatants in Mexico Revolution, Oaxaca, Mexico

Women fighters in the Revolution

More wood cutting poster art, these posters show female fighters in the Revolution. The sign on the left says: "Neither submissive Nor obedient Women combatants".

There are a lot of details in these woodblock prints.

Some of the street art has begun to move into the artist gallery, because a commercial market has emerged.

Hundreds of foreigners browsed the art at the third annual Feria Grafica. The event featured dozens of local printmakers and artists – some selling prints for up to $1,000 to tourists and art enthusiasts. This event reflects the growth and evolution of Oaxaca, a city that has become the capital of Mexican printmaking.

Female warrior of the Revolution

Here is the same poster displayed on another wall in the city.

Oaxacan prints (and their revolutionary movement) is easily seen at art fairs, in galleries and also in the numerous coffee shops, mezcalerias and chic restaurants in Oaxaca.

The prints are appreciated and sought after for their highly skilled production; techniques handed down from master to apprentice, much like the celebrated Oaxacan culinary tradition.

Some local artists such as Lapiztola (a blend of the words for pencil and pistol) received such international attention that they were asked to exhibit their works in London in 2015.

I understand the catharsis that these works produce for the people and the artists themselves. But for me I tire of war-print-after-war-print-after-war-print, indelibly fusing the horrid past into the futures of our children's minds. Only to expect - and then create - the same thing for themselves. >

This violence becomes normalized and glorified.

We saw this also in the Vietnam Fine Art Museum.

Young child with a knitted cap, Oaxaca Street art

Young child with a knitted cap

Another piece to generate conversation.

Man drinking tequila, Oaxaca Street Art, Mexico

Man drinking tequila

Back in the olden days, tequila was often drunk from a bull's horn, called a cuerno.

Tequila is Mexico's National Drink, gaining popularity all over the world.

Indigenous mythical creatures, Oaxaca street art, Mexico

Young indigenous woman with mythical creatures

Chapo, an artist from ASARO says of Oaxaca's street art: "One of the ideas that we all had was that art is an instrument to support the struggles of our people."

This wall is a blend of a painting and woodblock prints. A young indigenous woman with indigenous mythical creatures surrounding her. 

As mentioned previously, Oaxaca state is the 3rd poorest in Mexico. There are many reasons for this poverty, including lack of education for those who work in the fields and also that the natives speak Zapotec, not Spanish.

Spanish and English are the languages of business in Mexico. As long as the indigenous cannot speak Spanish fluently, their opportunities for advancement will be limited.

Another question is, how to educate them and not have the indigenous lose their culture?

Masked human riding a large wild cat, Street art of Oaxaca City, Mexico

A masked human riding a large wild cat

Well, I don't pretend to know what this one is about.

What is this human reading? What does "K" stand for? The letter "K" isn't even in the Spanish alphabet!  And what kind of wild cat is that?

The world is filled with wonder!

A giant rainbow fish on Plaza de la Cruz de Piera, Oaxaca, Mexico

A giant rainbow fish on Plaza de la Cruz de Piera

This rainbow fish, painted by Katalina Manzano, is made of colored dots.

Her idea was that everyone who enters your life leaves behind some color.

An interesting concept, eh?

Beautiful Hispanic woman, Street art in Oaxaca, Mexico

Beautiful Senorita with bullet belt

Here we are with another artist's rendition of a beautiful Senorita complete with a red flower in her hair, wearing a bullet belt.

Painting and wood cut street art, Oaxaca City, Mexico

Painted opossum and woodblock art

Apparently, opossums have become the symbol for protest in Mexico.

During standoffs and riots, protestors were known for throwing rocks and branches at the police. On one occasion, a protester threw a nearby opossum as it was the only thing in reach.

The story spread and the reputation stuck: possums = rebellion.

Who would have known?

Masked doctor with black box of medical supplies, Oaxaca, Mexico

Masked Doctor with a black box of medical supplies

 

 

 

 

This masked doctor carries a black box with medical supplies.

This is similar to the boxes the vintage cigarette girls of old would wear.

Notice the doctor listening to the heartbeat of one of the bottles.

Sun and death skull, street art of Oaxaca, Mexico

Paper and woodblock art

Day of the Dead woodblock skull with paper surrounding it and a marigold in the top right corner.

Marigolds are symbolic for the Light that the dead use to find their way back home to their loved ones.

Gas Mask street art, Oaxaca, Mexico

Woodblock poster featuring a gas mask

Another dystopian image.

woodblock print, Mexican hairless dog, Oaxaca street art, Mexico

Mexico's national dog

We are Retire Lifestyle Mentors. Our goal is to help you achieve your retirement dreams.

Here is a woodcut print of a xoloitzcuintli (pronounced: ZOH-low-itz-QUEENT-lee), a hairless Mexican dog.

To the ancient Aztec and Maya, this ugly-cute healer, occasional food source, and most importantly, guide to the Underworld was believed to be highly spiritual. They were called Xolo for short.

Aztecs would tuck xolos in blankets at night to keep them warm. The dogs' fur-free bodies made them a kind of ancient hot-water bottle for the ill and the elderly. 

These primitive dogs, experiencing a revival today, are very intelligent, opening doors, crates and getting into things you don't want to be bothered.

Artist Francisco Toledo, street art, Oaxaca, Mexico

Artist Francisco Toledo also known as El Maestro

Born in Juchitan, Francisco moved to Mexico City at age 17 to study lithography, etching and engraving at the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes.

Two prominent dealers got him shows all over Europe, but then he moved back to Mexico in 1965. At that time he was "desperate" to reconnect with his roots and begin a family. "I wanted them to speak Zapoteco like my family" he said.

 He married a Zapotec woman and had a child, but almost immediately he began to miss Europe and the sophisticated life he had tasted there.

Rootless and restless, he moved back and forth between Paris and Mexico, between New York and Oaxaca.

He married a professional woman in 1969, had 2 more children, and he became mythologized as a kind of artistic vagabond, a man who had no home and no possessions other than what he needed to work with.

He was astonishingly prolific, using anything he could as a canvas, including tortoise shells or ostrich eggs.

We hope you enjoyed this Street Art of Oaxaca Tour. Believe us, this is only a sample of what is here!

Perhaps you'll go and see for yourself. It's worth it.

For more stories and photos of Mexico, CLICK HERE

For more stories and photos of Oaxaca, CLICK HERE

For VIDEOS of Mexico, CLICK HERE

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About the Authors

 
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on Amazon.com.

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