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
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
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.
* * *