Every once in a while a person gets a bad feeling about a place, and is unable to explain why. Sometimes this turns out to be intuition, at others it remains a mystery as the feeling gets proven wrong over time. I felt this way about Michoacan (the state) and Morelia (its capital) at first, but at the same time I could not bring myself to leave. It was like two opposing internal, subconscious, forces vying for the ultimate impression of the place. I ended up staying for 3 weeks, and could not be happier that I did – Michoacan turned out to be a wonderful place, full of art, music and the best food I will have had in Mexico.
A random entrance into a room in a museum brought me in contact with some local, country wide, and international artists. They invited me to the opening of the exhibition which I accepted. Something about one of them struck me and I followed her downstairs and began a conversation. I did not invite her to join me that day, which I should have done, but instead planned to meet her at the opening. The next day though, in the hopes of seeing her there I came back to the not yet ready exposition, and was invited out for a drink with one of the artists. That night, at the bar, not only did I meet her, I met a girl from couch surfing who had gone salsa dancing with us a couple of weeks ago, as well as 3 friends of Lupita and Christof (my hosts near Patzcuaro)whom I had met the week before in Patzcuaro. Then Ray (my host in Morelia) came by with some friends in the hopes of catching the game. I was at once surrounded by a dozen people I knew. What is even more fascinating is that most of them new each other as well. We sat and talked and laughed, it felt like we had been friends forever. The soul of the artist truly knows no borders: Mexican, Argentinian, my own fucked up combination of identity, we all vibed and understood each other immediately.
Earlier that day I met a girl in a café, who, after a couple of hours of excellent conversation, invited me to a party that night. We arrived at a beautiful house, and the first thing we noticed was the incredible abundance of art on the walls. It turned out every person there was either a painter, sculptor, photographer, musician or actor. I felt like I was back in New York. It was yet another party where no more than 5 minutes into it we broke out in song… and did not stop till four in the morning.
What began as a wonderful party, turned, on a dime, into a domestic dispute for the ages. Neither I nor Cass knew how or why it started, but singing turned to silence as the last guests left, and silence turned to violent screaming and pleas to be allowed to leave from the wife of the host. She did not look drunk, yet he locked the gates so she could not leave. He did not seem like a violent person (and he is not), yet he did not want her to leave. Fierce screaming and wailing for hours on end did not bring forth complaints from neighbors or cops. She was literally screaming bloody murder at some point, and yet no one came. Perhaps they knew, perhaps it was not new to them, and they were aware that he would not hurt her. But such screaming! And then the breaking of a glass. And then another. Then more screaming, and his calm pleas for her to calm down. And then things began to shake and shatter as she broke more and more things of greater size and mass. My friend and I hid away in the spare bedroom upstairs and could only imagine what was being destroyed – it sounded like the entire house, including windows.
The whole day, from the café, to the bar, to the party, and it’s horrific end, all felt like we were in a Woody Allen film about artists.
The next day I went to the opening of the exhibition. The theme was “art inspired by music”, and every one had headphones with the musical pieces that inspired each work of art. What made it all the more interesting were 2 painters and a ballerina between whom I was rather desperately trying not to choose. To top it off I met again a rather famous artist who had invited me to stay in her studio, but whose phone number I lost. This fateful meeting brought me to her studio and to a lovely conclusion of my stay in Morelia.
She is a nice person, but, what is more important is that I really enjoy her art. She is self-obsessed, as most artists are, but if you overlook that, you will see the skill and beautiful vision of her work. In her breaks from self, she asked to see my photography and poetry, which, if she is to be believed, is very good. She stopped every few lines to express her love of a line, an image, or an idea. She was very moved and excited and said she would like to do something with me – for me to write a poem for a painting she made for a show in Paris. I know better than to believe anything is a surety until after it occurs, but what do I have to lose by writing a poem for a piece of work I like anyway.
Staying in her studio was like a dream. When you walk in through the massive gates, to the left is a long building with virtually no internal walls – her studio. Filled with works, old, new, and incomplete – each better than the previous. Just beyond the studio is an abandoned Studebaker – to give it that antique charm that only old cars can. At the far end of the cobbled path between the studio and the tree-filled green space, is a tiny house with giant windows for walls. A beautiful little bedroom, with an exquisite bed, to the left; a sitting/dining room to the right; and a small kitchen in the back. It was too perfect. I forced myself to leave after a few days, fearing if I did not I would stay forever.
To end my stay I went to see a display of flower art. Carpets of petals, flowers, twigs, cones, and other parts of trees and flowers, flowed for 3 blocks under a canopy of elms. Such beautiful work, it was almost unreal at times – that such things, from various patterns to three dimensional pieces, could be made from just petals. And just like the incredible works of art at Burning Man, all of this would be destroyed after only a few days on display. So much time, energy and creativity put forth only to be enjoyed for a brief moment.
Perhaps that final display was what helped me leave. No matter how wonderful Michoacan turned out to be, I still had the whole world ahead, and it was time to move on.