Posts Tagged ‘art’

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Enjoy a Cultural Feast at ‘The House of Crumbs’

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Inside the Casa del MendrugoIf the walls at La Casa del Mendrugo could talk, they’d probably tell more tales than most. The house, like many grand structures built in Puebla from the 16th to 19th centuries, is a study in local history. For example, Augustin de Iturbide reportedly stayed here on August 2, 1821. What sets this home apart from the rest is its careful rescue, its public accessibility, and its location above a pre-Hispanic burial site — the first ever discovered in the city’s core.

La Casa del Mendrugo literally translates to “the house of crumbs” or “bread crusts” in English. Mendrugo is also what the Jesuits called the leftover charity from nearby St. Jerome’s College that they used to rebuild the house in the 17th century. The home’s original owner may have been Juan de Salmerón, one of Puebla’s founders, back in 1534. When the Jesuits were expelled from New Spain in 1767, the building fell into the hands of a public commission. A century later, it returned to private ownership and, according to historians, “suffered several interventions which altered its main structures and uses.” One of the last attempts at renovation tried to divide the building into apartments in the 1950s and failed, and the site was abandoned until 2008, when the current owners purchased it. Their entire restoration project was supervised by the INAH, Mexico’s national institute of history and anthropology.

Olmec Remains, Other Artifacts Unearthed

“While excavating in a not previously altered area of the patio, [we found] two layers of Spanish-style brick flooring of different centuries. In the same area, there was also what used to be a water well,” explains the brochure that’s available in English at La Casa del Mendrugo. “The deep hole was filled with dirt and fragments of many utensils, ceramics, and animal bones from the Spanish Colonial times. But outside the well and underneath the flooring, pieces of very old Indian ceramics started to emerge.”

Further digging revealed more artifacts, a pre-Hispanic wall and stone flooring, and a ritual funeral offering that consisted of Olmec-style figures, shell and stone pendants, rock-carving utensils, and other objects. Two sets of human remains, one male and one female (known as “Chuchita”), believed to be from the same Pre-Classic Period (2500 B.C. to 200 A.D.) were also found. The INAH hopes to extract DNA from one of the molars recovered to find out for sure. The bulk of these items, including the skeletons, are now on display in a small private museum on the building’s second floor. They’re accompanied by more modern pieces, including antique talavera pottery and children’s toys from the early days of plastic.

Chuchita: Olmec remainsTapas at La Casa del MendrugoAAP-mendrugo1

Flaunting Puebla’s Cuisine and Culture

Beyond the museum, the three-story building—which we’re told has been restored as much as possible to its original state—also houses an art gallery, a stage for live entertainment, and three main dining areas: a coffeehouse, a fine-dining restaurant, and a tapas bar. The menus, says executive chef Daniel López Aguilar, are designed to celebrate Puebla’s Spanish heritage, with Mexican and international flair. They do. We liked the savory croquetas and the stuffed Poblano pepper so much, we’ve ordered them twice. The cheese plate, featuring products from IPODERAC, is a thing of beauty.

We’ve visited four times already, to check out all aspects of La Casa del Mendrugo. We give just about everything a thumbs-up, particularly the house-made beer, the live jazz on Friday nights, and the art gallery. La Galería Lazcarro is currently exhibiting “Matter Matters,” a mixed-media show by Jorge Juan Moyano, a Poblano painter and a friend of ours. Latin jazz will be featured in the restaurant on Fridays at 9 p.m. through the month of June.

“It is the only venue I know of [downtown] where it’s fun for grown-ups!” says another friend, who’s had a standing reservation since the restaurant opened two months ago. We can think of a couple more but agree it’s one of the few!

—Rebecca Smith Hurd

La Casa del Mendrugo is located at 4 Sur #304, one block from the main square, in Puebla’s historic center. The art gallery and museum are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, and the café and restaurant generally serve breakfast, lunch, or tapas from 9 a.m. to noon, 1 to 6 p.m., and 7 to 11 p.m., respectively. Admission to the museum is 20 pesos. The cover charge on Friday nights is 80 pesos. For more information or reservations (essential on Friday nights), call (222) 232-5148.

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Art, Music, Film, Dance: CCU BUAP Offers It All

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Complejo Cultural Universitario“Through art and culture, the Complejo Cultural Universitario provides a stage on which we’re able to demonstrate how modern the state of Puebla and the nation of Mexico are and offer a benchmark of modernity in the world,” Enrique Agüera Ibáñez told Alianzatex.com at a recent art opening. Agüera is rector of the Benemerita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, the state’s oldest and largest public university, and the man ultimately responsible for the auxiliary campus’s construction.

If establishing a “benchmark of modernity” sounds like a tall order, it is. But since its grand opening in 2008, the cultural complex has hosted scores of world-class events, such as the Ciudad de la Ideas conference, concerts by international pop stars (from Enrique Iglesias to Morrissey), major art exhibitions, and live broadcasts of the New York Metropolitan Opera. It’s also mounted diverse national and regional fairs, festivals, and competitions celebrating literature, theater, music, arts and crafts, major holidays, and more. Add to that folkloric dance performances, movie screenings, hands-on workshops for adults and children, a well-stocked bookstore, and several restaurants with valet parking and, at the very least, Agüera seems to be putting his money where his mouth is.

Musicians perform at an artisanal fair at the CCU BUAP.“It’s important to note that, from Río Bravo to Patagonia, no other facility like the Complejo Cultural Universitario exists with the concept of integrating several areas dedicated to art, culture, and academics—much less one created by a public university, as is our case,” the university boasts on its website. To create the space, the BUAP invested some $69 million USD in the 945,900-square-foot facility, sourcing all of its materials in Puebla and creating some 3,000 jobs in the process, the online newspaper Periódico Digital reports.

Ciudad de las Ideas conference at the CCU BUAP, Puebla, Mexico (2010)Although the complex’s architectural design is decidedly minimalistic — its stark white exterior resembles a blank canvas — its devotion the liberal arts and regional culture is anything but. Beyond curating scores of events every month, what truly sets the institution apart from the rest is that many of its festivals, exhibitions, and other activities are free and open to the public, including students, residents, and tourists. The only drawback: You’ll pay about 100 pesos to get there from the historic center of Puebla in a taxi, or you’ll need to figure out how to get there by bus.

What’s On at the CCU BUAP

Here are a half dozen notable events (three of which are free) currently scheduled at the Complejo Cultural Universitario, which is located at Vía Atlixcáyotl #2499 in Zona Angelopolis. For a complete list of activities, visit its website. For other events happening in Puebla, check out our events calendar.

Today through Oct. 21 Renown Zapotec painter and sculptor Alejandro Santiago pays tribute to women of the world in this mixed-media exhibition of 21 works on display in the Galería de Arte, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Free.

Sept. 29 Los Mariacheros, flamenco guitarists Bufón Acústico, singer Itzel Lampallas, and the musical group El Cayuco perform in the Andador Cultural starting at 2 p.m. Free.

Oct. 6 The Canadian punk band Simple Plan rock the auditorium, 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost 270 to 880 pesos, available at eticket.mx.

Oct. 20-27: 1er Festival Angelopolitano de Danza 2012, the first such conference organized by the CCU BUAP’s Contemporary Dance Company, includes lectures, roundtable discussions, a choreography competition, dance presentations, and more. All day. Free.

Nov. 8-10 Ciudad de las Ideas 2012, a TED-like conference of brilliant minds takes place in the Auditorio, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Speakers to include Craig Venter and John Underkoffler. Tickets cost 4,300 pesos, available from the organizers.

Nov. 17 Gloria Trevi, who’s been called the Supreme Diva of Mexican Pop, brings her live show to the Auditorio, 8:29 p.m. Tickets cost 210 to 1,800 pesos at Superboletos.

—Rebecca Smith Hurd

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Top 5 Museums for a Rainy Day in Puebla

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Faces of Divinity: Mayan Green Stone Mosaics is on display at Museo Amparo through Aug. 29.You know it’s summer in Puebla when scattered showers and thunderstorms are forecast every day for what seems like an eternity. The good news is that wet weather doesn’t have to rain on anyone’s holiday parade, because the capital city offers plenty of indoor activities for avoiding the storms outside.

For starters, why not explore one of Puebla’s vast array of wonderful museums? We’ve picked five that we think you’ll enjoy even if you don’t read Spanish. These sites won’t break your budget, either, because they’re all are open to the public free of charge at least one day a week. Most also give breaks to students and visitors older than 60 (you may be asked to show a university credential or an INAPAM card). The first two on the list, Museo Amparo and Museo Regional de la Revolución Mexicana, are participating in the city’s “Museum Nights” program, which means they’re open free during special hours (5 to 10 p.m.) through Aug. 12.

Museo Amparo

One of the finest museums in Mexico, Museo Amparo boasts an impressive collection of Olmec, Aztec, and other pre-Hispanic artifacts, as well as religious works from the Colonial period and contemporary art. Its temporary exhibitions vary wildly in content and scope, from the recent show of tattoos by Oaxaca artist Dr Lakra to the current display of Mayan funerary masks. Much of the museum’s explanatory signage is in English and Spanish. The Amparo is in the midst of a $17 million renovation project, scheduled to be completed by May 2012, that will open up existing areas, expand the on-site library, update the auditorium, and add new rooms for children’s workshops and more.
2 Sur #708, Centro Histórico. Open 10am-6pm; closed Tuesdays. Admission is 35 pesos (free on Mondays).

Museo Regional de la Revolución Mexicana

An antique mirror damaged by bullets in the Serdán home, now the Museum of the Mexican Revolution.Puebla is often recognized as the site of the Battle of Cinco de Mayo against the French, but fewer people know the capital city as the place where the Mexican Revolution began. Members of the Serdán family, who lived on Sixth Street, were vocal opponents of President Porfirio Díaz—and stockpiled weapons to support their cause. On November 18, 1910, two days before the official revolt was scheduled to begin, police surrounded the Serdán home in an attempt to seize everything, and a face-off ensued. The building (still riddled with bullet holes) now serves as a memorial of their loss—and the Revolution that their cohorts ultimately won.
6 Oriente #206, Centro Histórico. Open 10am-5pm; closed Mondays. Admission is 30 pesos (free on Tuesdays).

San Pedro Museo de Arte

This former hospital, built in the 16th century, is now a top-notch exhibition space. In addition to a small permanent collection that charts the building’s medical history — including a curious re-creation of its one-time pharmacy — the site accommodates all sorts of temporary shows, from traditional women’s textiles to ultramodern photography. The museum also occasionally hosts symphony concerts by the state orchestra.
4 Norte #203, Centro Histórico. Open 10am-5pm; closed Mondays. Admission is 30 pesos (free on Tuesdays).

Centro Cultural (Ex-Convento de) Santa Rosa

Closed for renovations until 2013.

Foodies won’t want to miss a trip to the former convent of Santa Rosa de Lima, where sometime during the Colonial period mole poblano was likely invented. (See our previous post, “Holy Mole Poblano!”) Visitors can go inside its stunning traditional kitchen adorned with talavera tile from ceiling to floor and imagine stoking the fire underneath a big ceramic pot filled with thick, bubbling sauce. The rest of the building, which was restored last year, has an interesting history, too, having served not only as a cloister, but also as an insane asylum and tenement housing before evolving into a cultural center in 1973. Today the site showcases diverse arts and crafts, from folk dancing to woodwork, from the seven economic regions around the state.
3 Norte #1203, Centro Histórico. Open 10am-5pm; closed Mondays. Admission is 30 pesos (free on Tuesdays).

Museo Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Mexicanos

Situated on land occupied in different eras by two lines, Ferrocarril Mexicano and Mexicano del Sur, the National Museum of Mexican Railways studies, rescues, and preserves Mexico’s freight and passenger railroad heritage (since 1850) through cultural, recreational, and educational activities. Its current exhibit, “Yo Soy Rielero: Retrato Ferrocarrilero,” features more than two dozen historical photos of railway workers, their tools, and their locomotives — inside a train car, the Express NdeM 12178. The show runs through Sept. 25. Bring an umbrella to tour the tracks and beautiful grounds.
11 Norte #1005, Centro Histórico. Open 9am-5pm; closed Mondays. Admission is 11 pesos (free on Sundays).

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