Day 4, in which we visit many things that Rudolfo Morelos loved

Day 4 (which was actu­al­ly yes­ter­day) we went to Ocot­lan. Birth­place of the painter Rudol­fo Morelos.

But before we got out of town I saw this set of signs and thought you all need­ed to see them as well.

signs outside a auto parts store
signs out­side a auto parts store

Ocot­lan is south of the city of Oax­a­ca. The biggest build­ing in town is the church. Unlike many colo­nial era church­es in Mex­i­co, the church in Ocot­lan has been restored to the way it looked in the 1880s. Much lat­er than the usu­al 16th cen­tu­ry. A lot of build­ings in Ocot­lan use the same blue, white, ocher, and black col­or scheme.

Sto Domingo Ocotlan
Sto Domin­go Ocotlan

Inside the church is white, gold, and black. It’s much brighter than many of the church­es. This is the main chancel.

main chancel
main chan­cel

While we were in the church I could hear a bird singing. It was a tough to locate the source. I was sure it was in the church but could­n’t find it until I real­ized that there the upper por­tion of the wall between the main chan­cel on the rosary chapel was open. I found this lit­tle guy perched on an angel’s wing.

finch perched on an angel's wing
finch perched on an angel’s wing

The chapel has a col­lec­tion of obscure saints in the spaces between the vaults.

one of the saints in the ceiling
one of the saints in the ceiling

This is a close up of one of the geo­met­ric designs that lines the chapel.

design from the wall of the rosary chapel
design from the wall of the rosary chapel

it would­n’t be a church if there was­n’t a shrine to El Nino.

shrine to el nino
shrine to el nino

Next to the church is the clois­ter. Which before it was turned into a muse­um for some of the More­los col­lec­tion was the local jail. This is what you would have seen if you were spend­ing your days in the jail­house courtyard.

the dome of the church as seen from the courtyard
the dome of the church as seen from the courtyard

Among the pieces in the muse­um are these exam­ples of sculp­ture by the Jose­fi­na Aguilar and her family.

This dev­il sits jaun­ti­ly on the dis­play case.

little devil
lit­tle devil

One of Jose­fi­na’s sis­ters makes these hys­ter­i­cal hook­ers. This one is wear­ing m0re clothes than most.

made famous by one of the sisters
made famous by one of the sisters

This is the whole his­to­ry of the world. Or at least the part that we keep repeating.

the fall of man
the fall of man

The muse­um also con­tains a num­ber of More­los’ paint­ings but the rooms are too dim to see them decent­ly, let alone pho­to­graph the installation.

A cou­ple of blocks from the church — across the Zoco­lo — is Rudol­fo More­los’ house. This is the view of the gar­dens at the cnter of the house.

the gardens from above
the gar­dens from above

This walk­way leads from the stairs across the top of the porch to More­los’ studio.

upstairs at the morelos house
upstairs at the More­los house

I get stu­dio envy every time I come up here. This long sky-lit room now hous­es some of his lithographs.

morelos's studio, now housing lithographs

Dial­o­go espera.

one of the lithographs
one of the lithographs

The house is full of lit­tle sur­pris­es. You can only see this fel­low if you turn around and look back­wards from the stu­dio door.

sculpture upstairs
sculp­ture upstairs

There were birds singing in More­los’ house.

canary in a blue cage
canary in a blue cage

Anoth­er fan­tas­ti­cal beast.

carousel horse
carousel horse

A lit­tle fur­ther down the street we went to the home of Jose­fi­na Aguilar. She demon­strat­ed how she builds her sculptures.

josefina creating a market woman
jose­fi­na cre­at­ing a mar­ket woman

She has the most amaz­ing hands. Most of her work is done by feel.

amazing hands
amaz­ing hands

It took her a lit­tle over 20 min­utes to cre­ate this sculp­ture of a mar­ket women car­ry­ing calla lilies and marigolds — the tra­di­tion­al day of the dead flow­ers. I don’t know how the lit­tle dog fig­ures into it.

market woman with day of the dead flowers and a puppy
mar­ket woman with day of the dead flow­ers and a puppy

Jose­fi­na’s son Demitrio is also a tal­ent­ed painter. I bought this gem from him.

untitled paiting by Demetrio Aguilar
unti­tled paint­ing by Demitrio Aguilar
Demetrio Aguilar
Demitrio Aguilar

ObMo­to. This mechan­ic’s shop was right next door to the Aguilar’s.

sign for a moto mechanic's shop

Jim found this inside. But there was no-one around to ask about it.

partially rebuilt moto
par­tial­ly rebuilt moto

Our last stop for the day was St. Mar­tin Tilca­jete. We went to see two fam­i­lies of wood carvers.

Here are two masks carved by Isado­ra Cruz, one of the old men of wood carv­ing in the valley.

two unfinshed masks
two unfin­ished masks

Crafts in Oax­a­ca are fam­i­ly busi­ness­es. This is Isado­ra’s daugh­ter Rosa hold­ing a half fin­ished Dia de Muer­tos mask.


There’s not a lot of straight tim­ber left in the valley.

wood used to make masks
wood used to make masks 

Leav­ing town we had to give way for this gen­tle­man and his field workers.

a pair of brahma bulls
a pair of brah­ma bulls

About the Author

Lara Harriger