Folklife Festival 2015: Peru

I think my favorite event in Washington, D.C. is the annual Folklife Festival which is held the last week of June and the first week of July. This year the featured country is Peru.

The festival is being held adjacent to the National Museum of the American Indian, and extends into the museum itself. Inside you can visit a new English-Spanish bilingual exhibit called The Great Inka Road (third floor), and buy Peruvian folkart, (in the atrium just inside the entrance.)

The most interesting fact I learned from the Inka exhibit, which will be in place until June 2018, is that the Andean people knew the bark of the quina tree (also known as “quinine”) cured malaria for thousands of years. Use of quinine in Europe occurred in the 1600’s after Catholic missionaries learned about it from the Andean people.

Peruvian flowers, folkart

The folk art available included traditional items, like these colorful tin flowers made in Ayacucho, Peru.

But the equally colorful more modern typography art called “chicha” was available as well. I love the quote on this signed print by artist Elliot Túpac. It says “La suerte cuesta trabajo” (luck requires work.)

Art by Elliot Tupac

Outside was an awesome mural in the same style which combines ancestral colors in modern street-style urban designs. I can’t say for sure whether that was the same artist working on it, as another artist by the name of Pedro “MONKY” Rojas, chicha pioneer and mentor to Túpac, was being prominently featured nearby.

Peruvian urban art

There was so much going on, I didn’t really know what to check out first, and as soon as I’d spot something interesting, something else would distract me. There were many different types of artisans weaving, working with clay, carving wood, and this guy who was lashing together reeds to make rafts called “caballitos de totora” which have been used by fishing families in Huanchaco for five thousand years.

Peruvian reed boats

I loved the embroidery on this woman’s blouse.

Peruvian woman weaving

I learned about different types of corn, (I was told the purple corn is used only for chicha morada and chicken feed because it never gets soft), I watched a cooking demonstration for lomo saltado, and I saw what quinoa plants look like.

There were also plenty of things I missed, like the Marinera dance with Peruvian Paso horses, (there was a huge crowd, so I went in the opposite direction to take advantage of everyone else being away from other exhibits), but here’s one of the performers and his horse afterward.

Peruvian horseman

Of course, all this walking around made us hungry, especially since the smell of Peruvian food was in the air.

Chicha morada and papa rellena

We had brought along a picnic lunch so we wouldn’t spend money, but I couldn’t resist a small snack. This is a papa rellena, which is a potato croquette filled with ground beef, hard-boiled egg, raisins, and spices. The green sauce is aji verde, and the drink is, of course, the ever popular chicha morada.

The most interesting part of our day occurred when I wandered over to a tent to investigate men who were dressed in very unique-looking costumes. One of the men turned around while I was staring at the embroidered design on his back and so I said to him in Spanish, “Su traje es bien bonito.” (Your suit/costume is really nice.) The man thanked me in Spanish and so I asked him if it was worn year-round or for a particular event. He explained that he was part of a Contradanza troupe and the costume is worn in a small town during the celebration called the “Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen de Paucartambo.”

I finished my conversation with the gentleman, thanking him for his time, and then turned around to look for Carlos. I found him and the boys standing a few yards away watching a man weave together rope. I realized that this must be one of the Quechua men who is working on recreating the rope bridge, (“Q’eswachaka”) which, when finished, will be suspended across the National Mall. When the festival is over, a section of the bridge will be put on display in the National Museum of the American Indian. This bridge is built and re-built by four Andean communities each year in Peru, a tradition that dates back six hundred years, and being tradition, as you’d imagine, there are many rituals and beliefs surrounding the creation of it.

Well, the man who was working on it, stood up and addressed the crowd in Spanish. “Necesitamos ayuda. ¿Quién puede ayudarnos?” he asked, (We need help. Who can help us?)

I wasn’t sure exactly what he needed help with. Judging from the faces of others who had gathered to watch, nobody else knew either, or perhaps they just didn’t speak Spanish, and maybe for that reason, no one volunteered.

I pushed past my shyness and raised my hand.

I stood only feet away, and yet the man somehow didn’t see me as he repeated his question – “We need help, who will help us?” – Still, no one else volunteered. I waved my hand a little higher. The man explained in more detail that they needed to stretch out the rope that had been woven together by pulling on it from opposite ends. Pull on a rope? I can do that. This time I spoke up with confidence.

“Yo. Yo puedo ayudar,” I said aloud, prepared to hand my purse over to Carlos.

The man shook his head and finally looked me briefly in the eyes, “Sólo hombres.”

Men only.

I felt my cheeks go hot, a mix of humiliation and indignation stirred inside me. I grew up playing tackle football with the neighborhood boys, climbing trees, swimming laps all summer long. I used to fight grown men in martial arts class. Maybe this man just didn’t know I was capable. Maybe he thought I’d get hurt. I’m no stranger to machismo, so I didn’t shrink away quietly. Instead I pulled up my shirt sleeve and flexed my bicep.

“Pero soy fuerte!” I called out loudly – But I’m strong!

Yet the man ignored me as finally a few volunteers of the male persuasion started to come forward.

Carlos rubbed my shoulder, “Did he hurt your feelings?”

“Just go ahead, you help, you guys help,” I said to Carlos and the boys.

Peruvian rope bridge

Two men from the Contradanza troupe smiled at me kindly while trying to comfort me. “It’s not personal,” they said, “It’s just tradition. It would be bad luck for a woman to participate.” I nodded my head, watched the two groups of laughing, grunting men play tug-of-war. I tried to act like I totally understood, but to be honest, it caused me to feel and think a lot of things – Things I won’t delve into here because the festival is meant to celebrate the beautiful and diverse culture of Peru and it just wouldn’t be in the spirit of the event to chase that rabbit today, but I did want to mention it because culture clashes and the questions that arise from them are so very interesting, aren’t they?

So to conclude, if you want to visit the 2015 Folklife Festival, (which I recommend!), you still have July 1st through the 5th. The festival hours are 11 am to 5:30 pm, with special events such as concerts taking place most evenings beginning at 7 pm. Details available at the website. Unable to attend in person? The website has plenty of great information, photos, and videos.

Comida Salvadoreña (Poster Giveaway!)

Do you guys remember around the holidays I shared my gift guide here which includes an awesome Cuban food poster created by Marta of My Big Fat Cuban Family? Well, Marta is actually someone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting face-to-face years ago and she was so thrilled that I loved her Cuban food poster that she contacted me with an idea for a collaboration. Her idea? A Comida SALVADOREÑA poster!

So I created a list of all my favorite Salvadoran foods and narrowed it down to the ones I felt were most important to include (because it was way too many to fit!) Once I provided the list of foods, Marta worked her creative magic and designed the poster! Here’s the one she sent me. I’m still trying to decide if I want it in my kitchen or dining room.

Salvadoran food poster

comida salvadorena poster

Want your own COMIDA SALVADOREÑA poster? The poster is available HERE in Marta’s online shop in standard sizes to make framing it super easy: 5×7, 8×10, 11×14, 16×20.

And Marta is generously offering one for giveaway to one of my readers, so enter below for your chance to win!

===GIVEAWAY CLOSED!===

Giveaway Details

Prize description: One lucky winner will receive a COMIDA SALVADOREÑA poster in the size of their choice. Sizes available are: 5×7, 8×10, 11×14, 16×20.

How to enter: Just leave a comment below telling me what your favorite Salvadoran food is. (Please read official rules below before entering.)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the person responsible for prize fulfillment for that purpose. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid email address in the email address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 24 hours to respond. If winner does not respond within 24 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between May 28, 2015 through June 4th, 2015. Entries received after June 4th, 2015 at 11:59 pm EST, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that Latinaish.com assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Buena suerte / Good luck!

How to make: a Salvadoran-style wooden box

How to make a Salvadoran-style wooden box

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

If you’re Salvadoran or if you’ve ever been to El Salvador, you know that little wooden boxes are a common handicraft made and painted in the traditional style – I own several little “treasure box” style ones and at first I wanted to try to make one of those complete with a lid for this month’s woodworking challenge. Once I started planning it out though, I decided that for my first attempt I should try a more simple design, so with Carlos’s help I made a medium-sized wooden box without a lid. The supplies and method I used are below if you’d like to give it a try!

How to make: a Salvadoran-style wooden box

What you need:

jigsaw
utility square
pencil with eraser
paper
heavy duty bar clamp
2 pieces of craft board 3/8 x 4 x 24″ (to be cut for the 4 sides: Left, Right, Front, Back)
1 craft board 1/2 x 6 x 24″ (to be cut for the bottom)
newspaper
sandpaper
Elmer’s Carpenters wood glue (interior)
painters tape
Q-tips
paper towels
paint in various colors (I used Valspar samples I already had on hand)
small craft paint brushes
permanent marker (black)

Directions:

1. Measure and mark your wood for cutting using the utility square and pencil. Very important! Remember to include the width of the front and back pieces plus the bottom for the measurement you need for your two sides. These are the measurements I ended up with:

Bottom: 6″
Front: 6″
Back: 6″
Left side: 6 1/4″
Right side: 6 1/4″

Tip: Craft wood is sold with a UPC sticker on it. When you remove the sticker it might leave behind a sticky residue. This can be removed with a little dab of peanut butter on a paper towel. (Yes, peanut butter!)

2. Wearing eye protection, carefully use the jigsaw to cut our your pieces. You should have 5: bottom, front, back, left side, right side.

Carlos-cutting-1

Carlos-cutting-2

3. Make sure all pieces are the correct size by doing a dry assembly of the box to see that the corners line up properly with none of the pieces being too long or short.

4. Lightly sand any rough edges if necessary.

5. On top of a layer of newspaper, glue the front and back to the bottom. Use Q-tips to remove any excess glue before it dries. It’s really helpful to have a second person helping you at this stage. One person should glue and hold the pieces in place while the other lightly secures the clamp. Do not secure the clamp too tightly or they may lean in. To ensure the sides are at a 90 degree angle, you can use a triangle square. Leave the clamp on for at least an hour to ensure the glue has dried. Now repeat step 5 to attach the other two sides. Note: Really try to avoid using too much glue which will cause your box to stick to the newspaper. If this happen, the newspaper can be sanded off with sandpaper.

Glue-Box

6. Once the glue has dried you should have a completed wooden box ready to be painted. Gently tap the sides to make sure you’ve done a good job and the box will hold together.

7. Practice a design with pencil and paper. Once you know what you want to paint, draw your design directly onto the box with pencil.

box-sketch-design

8. On a layer of newspaper, paint your design. Tip: Painters tape is helpful for making clean lines.

Tape-box

Paint-box-halfway-done

9. Once the paint is dry your box is ready to display or use!

Salvadoran-box-4

Salvadoran-box-5

Want more creative ideas?

Holiday-14-Blogger-Badge_200x200

 

Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, following them on Pinterest and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to.

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Central American Artifacts in D.C.

Did you know that the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. has a large bilingual (English/Spanish) exhibit called “Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America’s Past Revealed“? It’s there until February 15, 2015 and features more than 160 objects from Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama – so check it out while you can if you live in the area. If not, here are a few highlights!

ceramica-de-los-ancestros

designs

Lempa River jar in the form of an armadillo, AD 900-1200, Near Palacios, Oratorio de Concepción, Cuscatlán, El Salvador

Lempa River jar in the form of an armadillo, AD 900-1200, Near Palacios, Oratorio de Concepción, Cuscatlán, El Salvador

Classic period Maya figure, AD 600-900, Usulután, El Salvador

Classic period Maya figure, AD 600-900, Usulután, El Salvador

Classic period Maya bowl, AD 250-600, San Agustín, Acasaguastlán, El Progreso, Guatemala

Classic period Maya bowl, AD 250-600, San Agustín, Acasaguastlán, El Progreso, Guatemala

Stamps from Costa Rica and Guatemala

Stamps from Costa Rica and Guatemala

Pre-Classic period Maya female figure, 200 BC-AD 1, San Jacinto, San Salvador, El Salvador

Pre-Classic period Maya female figure, 200 BC-AD 1, San Jacinto, San Salvador, El Salvador

Carlos said, "Hey, this one looks like me!" even though I told him that usually statues with hands on the hips are females.

Carlos said, “Hey, this one looks like me!” even though I told him that usually statues with hands on the hips are females.

Want more?

The National Museum of the American Indian website has more information related to the exhibit including photos, video, and even a really awesome printable coloring book for the niños!

Brazilian Bon Bons (Brigadeiros)

brigadeiros-2

With the World Cup coming up, I’ve got my mind on Brazil – but more specifically, I can’t stop thinking about Brazilian food. I did some research (also known as looking at photos of food for several hours) and have come to a conclusion – my life needs more Brazilian food in it. During the World Cup, my cocina will become a cozinha, (you guys are pretty smart so I don’t have to tell you that’s Portuguese for “kitchen”, right?)

Since I have pretty much zero experience in Brazilian cuisine, I decided to start out with the easiest recipe I could find.

Brigadeiros are basically Brazilian bon bons, or maybe more accurately, truffles. From what I read, they are the most popular candy in Brazil and essential at children’s birthday parties.

brigadeiros-1

I love how mine turned out. They’re like little soccer balls (how perfect!) … And the ones with the little round sprinkles remind me of Huichol beaded art.

If you want to make a batch of brigadeiros, the recipe I used is on From Brazil To You.

Anyone want to join me in learning to make some Brazilian dishes during the World Cup? Leave a comment and let me know!

How to Paint a Portable Mural

how-to-paint-a-portable-mural-latinaish

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

I have loved murals for as long back as I can remember, and so it was only natural that one day I would want to move from an admirer of murals to a creator of murals. At 12 years old I asked my mother if I could paint a mural on my bedroom wall, and I will be forever thankful that she allowed me to, no questions asked.

Since growing up and moving out on my own, I have continued to paint murals on the walls in every place I’ve lived. The only sad thing about a mural is that you can’t take it with you when you move, and if you decide to re-paint a room, it often gets painted over, with no way to preserve it. So when I decided I wanted to paint a new small-scale mural this time, I decided to make it portable. (Which is actually something Mexican painter Diego Rivera did in a much larger scale!)

I chose murals in La Palma, El Salvador, in the traditional style created by Fernando Llort, for my inspiration. While this portable mural measures only 8 x 24 inches, I hope to do a bigger one later. Here’s how you can make one too!

How to: Paint a Portable Mural

You need:

1 untreated piece of wood board (whichever size you want. The one pictured is 8 x 24 inches) – Try to find one with as little defects and knots as possible.

Paint in various colors, (I love the Valspar samples at Lowe’s which are only a couple dollars each. They come in so many bright, beautiful shades.)

paint-samples

Paint brushes in various sizes

A pencil

A yardstick

A piece of drafting paper

Directions:

1. Measure the length and width of the wood. On the drafting paper, with one square equaling one inch, draw a rectangle to the same dimensions as your wood.

drawing-mural

(Note: If you’ll be hanging the mural instead of just setting it on a shelf or mantle, you will need to carefully add picture hangers to the back of the wood at this point – Just make sure the screws are much shorter than the depth of the wood so you don’t go through and damage the side you’ll be painting.)

2. Within this rectangle on the drafting paper, create your design with pencil.

3. Once you’re happy with your design, you’re going to manually transfer it to the piece of wood, using the grid on the drafting paper as a guide. Don’t feel overwhelmed – just go square by square and draw what you see. Use pencil so you can erase and correct as needed. As you transfer the design, you may feel comfortable changing some elements of it – go ahead! It doesn’t have to be exactly like your original draft.

squares-on-wood

4. Take a moment to plan ahead and decide which colors you want to use and where. This may change as you work, but it’s good to have a general idea before plunging in.

5. Start painting!

painting-the-mural

finished-mural

6. Allow the paint to dry. Once the paint is dry, you can put your mural wherever you want, and because it’s portable, if you change your mind – no problem! Just move it elsewhere!

mural-on-shelf

An Interview with Alfredo Genovese, Fileteador

alfredo-genovese

I love art in general, but the diverse art of Latin America is my favorite to explore. It was during one of these internet explorations that I stumbled upon the traditional Argentinian art called “fileteado” and one of its most respected modern day masters, artist Alfredo Genovese.

havanna-alfredo-genovese

If the style looks familiar to you, it’s possible that you recognize it as the type of art historically found on the sides of wagons, particularly those used by circuses. The art seems to have originated in Italy and was brought to Argentina by immigrants where it has become its own unique style known as the “Fileteado Porteño” of Buenos Aires.

When Alfredo Genovese studied art, he was surprised to find that Fileteado was not part of the school’s curriculum, and so he went to study under masters of the art, traveling around the world, before returning to Buenos Aires where he makes a living as an artist and a teacher of Fileteado.

cocacola-fileteado

I emailed Mr. Genovese to ask if I could feature him and some of his art here, and to my surprise, he even agreed to an interview (below!)

Interview with Alfredo Genovese, Fileteador

Latinaish: For those who aren’t from Argentina and don’t know what “Fileteado” is, can you explain?

Alfredo Genovese: Fileteado is a popular decorative art form originating from the horse cart factories of Buenos Aires in the early 20th Century. It is a hand-painted, brightly coloured style, which has a real life of its own. Vibrant contrasting colours, with highlights and lowlights, often incorporating symbols such as the acanthus leaf, dragons, flowers, birds, cornucopias, ribbons and scrolls etc. Recently inspiring the work of graphic designers and Tattoo artists also.

Latinaish: What attracted you to working as a fileteador, more so than other types of art?

Alfredo Genovese: My interest in Fileteado began when I was an art student at the school of Bellas Artes, and was disappointed to see that this traditional Argentinian art form was not taught in schools. I began to study the basics with an old master Fileteado painter called Leon Untriob. Any information regarding this old art form was very limited at the time, so I decided to investigate as much as possible about the technique and later began teaching Fileteado workshops and have also published 3 books about it.

Latinaish: You’ve traveled all over the world! What are some of the biggest lessons you learned from other cultures that you’ve applied to your life and/or art?

Alfredo Genovese: I learned a lot about the value of elaborate and meticulous art work from different cultures all over the world. How to be methodical and patient like all those artisans who create their work daily.

Latinaish: What has been your favorite project so far? Why?

Alfredo Genovese: Three years ago I painted a live Bull. It was a challenge and the first time I had painted an animal weighing more than 1000kg.

Latinaish: What would your advice be to a young person who is thinking about studying to become a fileteador? Is there anything you wish you knew when you were a student first starting out?

Alfredo Genovese: I think its important for an artist to find their own style, different to what is commonly seen. To keep investigating and practice a lot. To be patient and self critical to achieve work of good content and quality. Actually Fileteado is not only a pictorial skill, but also a way of representing conceptual ideas.

I want to thank Mr. Genovese for his time and for sharing his art with us. You can learn more at his website, which is in both English and Spanish. On his website you will find more examples of his art, history and information about Fileteado, dates for workshops, and books about Fileteado which are available for purchase, (PDF summaries of the books can also be downloaded.) Love Fileteado? Follow Alfredo Genovese on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

(Images are copyright Alfredo Genovese and have been used with permission.)