INSTALLATIONS                                            ...BACK TO TIME-LINE MENU





November, 1988




From "The Memoirs" Volume Two:



            "So I went to Oaxaca to have my show in the Museum of Oaxaca.


I remembered the museum as a kind of “neighborhood arts program” type of place, like we used to have in San Francisco, big and active and kind of run-down around the edges.  That would be confirmed soon.

            I checked into the Hotel Monte Albán, thinking to stay for a few days, until something else came along, and then I scurried over to La Mano Mágica Gallery where they had promised Russell that I could have a nice studio to work in while I’m here.  Natch, I wanted to be very prompt and courteous.  I hardly remembered having met Arnulfo and Mary Jane Mendoza the year before, except to remember she was a Canadian lady who ran the art gallery with her Zapoteco husband and artist.


            Well, they were really nice to me and we got on great and they showed me upstairs to a beautiful, falling down, adobe, pink painted, tall-ceilinged room off a sunny balcony, with a beautiful black dog and really nice people in the patio below.  I loved it and spent a lot of time there and painted and had a great time.





            Next I learned that the big roll of paintings which I had checked onto the airplane, and which contained like the WHOLE of my planned show, had NOT come with me and had NOT come on subsequent flights and was being searched for in the Mexicana baggage system, just everywhere!


            Well, there wasn’t much I could do, of course, except wait and get nervous.  I started sketching in my studio and got out my paints (which HAD come, thankfully) and asked if they had any big paper in La Mano Mágica.  Well, of course, they had lots and I thought OK let’s at least paint something, and big, and in case my show DOESN’T get here, I’ll at least know what I’m up against and will have started to paint the whole show over again.  So, I painted one, real fast, and everybody was really impressed how fast I painted and I thought You ain’t seen nothing yet!




            And I was a couple days like that and really churning them out, when I went back to my hotel one afternoon and walked past the desk.  I noticed a large tube of cardboard leaning in the corner.

            “What’s that?!!” I said.


            Well, it was my roll of paintings, had come, they said, that morning. 

            Back at the studio, I was able to lay out my show.  With the six or eight big paintings that I had brought from San Francisco and now the paintings and sketches from this trip, it was quite impressive.

            “Bill!” said Mary Jane, “It’s really beautiful.”


*  *  * 



            At the museum, I was given two large rooms, white, on the second floor and in the first, a big bright room, I hung the big drawings and a few smaller paintings.  La Mano Mágica had framed everything for me.



  And in the second, I darkened the light and hung right on the walls the big pieces of amate paper and the dark, mysterious images of hombres and despair and night.  I decided to call the show Oaxaca de Noche.




* * *


            The show was well liked in Oaxaca.  A nice inauguration, especially sponsored by Nancy and, of course, La Mano Mágica, always brings out a big crowd and lots of artists, always.  I remember them sort of looking at me and raising their eyes; I was being elevated in their estimation, I guess.  And I got to know a lot of them and got a lot of nice compliments on the show.  The Museum had printed a nice little announcement.





            Well, of course, I was nervous and sort of hiding out in the little kitchen area that they had set up to provide refreshments, and I was having a mexcal, listening to the big crowds outside, when Mary Jane came running in.  She scolded me, “Bill!  You have to go out there!  The people want to meet the artist.  You’re having a great show and here you are hiding in the kitchen!”

            So, I went out and wandered around a bit, still terrible uncertain in my terrible Spanish, and smiled and shook hands.  Then an odd sensation came over me.  I was looking at the people, who were all looking at my paintings and drawings.  And, like, really looking at them, and it was so obvious, there was no communication barrier.  I had painted the pictures on the wall, and they were looking at them, receiving the whole thing, the full communication from the paintings.  Everything I had communicated, they were getting.


            I suddenly felt very good, and was glad to be there, getting their smiles and nods.  Language is only one kind of communication; there are all kinds of others.



*  *  *






















            So I made lots of friends, and some of the artists were even so good as to hang out with me in the street in front of the museum after the opening night party, drinking mescal with me late into the night.


            “You did what!” said Mary Jane the next day.  “Bill, you could have gotten arrested!”


* * *


   ...NEXT:  STONEWALL "20"