Getting on with It!

Well we finally got our paperwork in order after much hair pulling. We’d planned a big opening show in our newly renovated studio. The editor of the local paper had organized the invitations, which had to be hand delivered(there is no home mail delivery in Cabo and only 1 postie for the whole downtown area) . As Carlos was well connected in the Cabo San Lucas community, we ordered our snacks and wine to accommodate a large crowd.
The day of the show, our carpenter arrived with the “frames” Chris had ordered for his paintings. Now, in ’97 there were no frame shops, galleries or any place to buy frames so we chose baseboard molding which was stained off white. Unfortunately, our carpenter was using metric, we of course spoke little spanish and “assumed” standard measures. Every frame we ordered was too big or too small for the paintings and Chris spent the next several hours jury rigging the paintings as best he could to accommodate the art.
Next we learned the invitations were hand delivered only that day. Carlos’ thinking was that there was so little happening in Cabo that it didn’t matter if the invitation only arrived the day of. Meanwhile we’d ordered enough food to feed Santanas’ army which we had arranged artfully on a long table along the main wall of the gallery.
We’d finished everything and jumped in the shower before our guests were to arrive. On returning to the studio to survey our handiwork, we gasped as an enormous band of ants was marching across the wall over and under the paintings in a headlong dash for the food table. After moving the table to the center of the room, the band of ants, scurrying around in circles on the wall looking for the booty, finally regrouped and continued across the wall and disappeared through a hole at the top of the stairs and disappeared, just as the first guest arrived.
Another lesson learned—- always expect the unexpected in Mexico.
We never again “assumed” anything and always did what we could ourselves relying on external help infrequently.
And by the way, we learned also that manana doesn’t mean tomorrow, it just means maybe sometime, maybe, if we get around to it.
Next blog we’ll get into more trouble.


Nitty-Gritty Artists in Mexico

Mexico -we were about to get a crash course on working as an artist in Baja.

Type A Personality:  while we may consider this a positive attribute for the gung-ho entrepreneur, in Mexico this is the proverbial “red flag” to any play you
may want to be involved in. “We want what we want when we want it” attitude
will pretty much guarantee that you won’t get it any time, any how or anywhere,
in Mexico!

All 5 of the “character builders” came up immediately upon dealing with the
Mexican bureaucracy. Indeed, any bureaucracy can make you crazy but they
have fine-tuned this in the Mexican immigration department. Under no
circumstances must one underestimate the importance Mexicans,  working for
the government, place on properly executed paperwork!

Nothing, nada, no thing out of sequence, place, origin-stamped, stapled or
copied unless authorized, notarized, originalized, organized, and translated into Spanish and 10 copies to go with the original. Every single pertinent
passport, visa, document, bank statement, utility bill, birth certificate, proof of
residence, any and every single thing you can think of must be copied, 10
times presented with the original, notarized, stamped, approved, detailed and
on time, which you never know and which they seldom tell you. They will seek
and find any discrepancy, no matter how minute to get you to come back,
again and again and again and leave you waiting in line for hours and hours until “they” are satisfied you have complied with all the ubiquitous rules and regulations which, by the way,  seem to change daily.

Patience is the virtue invented by Mexicans. And not just gringos have this
mountain of paperwork to climb; everyone including the Mexicans are invited
to participate in “paperwork roulette”!

Once you’ve been on this ride a couple of times, you finally realize it’s best to
hire a professional to do the dirty deed for you. They’re used to it, know the
procedures, never seem to be impatient, with standing in lines for hours and
even have a sense of humor about the whole thing. Bless them for it and pay
for the peace of mind you’ll have not having to deal with it. We hired an
accountant, eventually, enjoyed the time saved and because this is an on-
going battle, we feel it helped us stay in Mexico longer than if we had to be up
against this alone.

Always remember Chris’ proverb to friends wanting to come to Mexico to live:
“bring 1/2 the clothes and twice the money you think you’ll need”. Even with all
the hassles involved, we love the fact that in Mexico any problem can
disappear with just a little money thrown at it.

So first thing you need is a good, hopefully honest “paperwork processor” in
the form an accountant or notary to help you navigate the murky waters of the sea of paperwork you’ll need to live/paint and play in Mexico. Bring every
document you might need including, birth certificate, marriage certificate, up
to date bank statements from home, passport, tourist visa you’ll get on
entering Mexico, proof of residence utility bills, drivers license just to scratch
the surface. Oh, and bring lots of money, cash preferably, to pay for the
services, permits, copies, translations and sundry expenses.

Next we’ll go further into the nitty gritty. Hasta pronto Marilyn

Live Paint Play in Mexico

Like a perpetual motion machine, your life seems to take on its own momentum once  serious life-changing decisions are made.  Somehow events conspired to keep us moving forward in spite of the constant obstacles that kept popping up to keep us from pressing forward.  We pushed on despite the nagging doubts.

We’d spent considerable time in Baja by ’97 and developed some good relationships that fired up once we committed ourselves.  A Mexican friend located an excellent space for our “future studio/gallery” The Golden Cactus.  It was in the heart of old Cabo San Lucas, a block off the main drag and just down the street from a main tourist attraction, The Cabo Wabo Cantina.  The space occupied the whole second floor of a corner building and the situation of the building afforded a perfect 180 degree view of our corner of Cabo.  Windows wrapped around the front and two sides, had a 3 foot wide balcony around the whole space and could be accessed with some modifications.  The 1000 foot space was currently being used as storage for the gift shop underneath and we immediately started plans to make it workable as a studio and included a full bathroom with shower and large storage area we could use for sleeping if needed.  Our friend would make the necessary renovations over the summer and be ready for our arrival in October.

I don’t know for certain what the character qualities are that determine who has what it takes to follow a dream.  Perhaps they get fleshed out as you head into the fray, developing as you go along.  In any event, perseverance, patience, tolerance, humor are needed for any scheme to come to fruition and we were about to get a crash course in character building 101.

A strong personality is considered a positive attitude for the gung-ho entrepreneur, however in Mexico this attitude will be the proverbial red flag to any play you may want to be involved in. “We want what we want when we want it”  will pretty much guarantee you “won’t get it any time, any how or any where” in Mexico.  More next.


March 24/2016

Artists/The How To: Iive, paint, play in Mexico

So here I was at the crossroads of life, fumbling around trying to find my “so called self”. My body & mind were going through the motions more or less and I was responding to events, people and situations in a somewhat predictable manner but then I discovered the Baja.  When I arrived in Cabo for the first time in 1991, it became so obvious that I had been dreaming a life, then voila, upon waking up, the real life was exactly here where I was standing.  Although I had traveled extensively throughout my adult life, I was not prepared for the Baja.  I believe there are places on earth that can have that effect.  The early 90’s Cabo was a relatively unknown factor on the travel scene and although the Hollywood crowd was familiar with it, the world hadn’t discovered it– as yet.  To me, it awoke a mysterious force which would have its way with me one way or another.

We were hooked on Cabo from the moment we landed.  Charming in its own way, we loved the rustic buildings, dirt streets with the chickens and children running about, the bougainvillea and cactus which are stunningly beautiful and everywhere you look. The airport at that time was only open during daylight hours and comprised one rickety old building and one small runway used for both takeoffs and landings.  There is an incredible peace you can actually feel, once away from the airport and town, the silence is deafening out in the desert. The airport is located near San Jose and there was a badly potholed 2 lane road which took you the 35 miles along the Sea of Cortez to Cabo San Lucas.

The big appeal in Cabo was the big game fishing and of course the weather, which by the way is perfect 9 months of the year.  Of course the margaritas were and are a huge draw for tourists looking for a way to blow off steam in a safe but exotic atmosphere.

In some ways, I believe we didn’t choose to go to Cabo so much as it chose us to be there. We’ve discovered that after returning a few times, Cabo gets in the blood, you’re addicted to the easy way of life, the warmth and the quiet peace which seeps into you, it gets much harder to return to “normal”.

Apart from a small studio run by an artist from Texas, there were no art galleries in Cabo San Lucas.  My now mentor/artist/travel companion Chris MacClure quickly found a gift store to sell some small pieces he painted while we were there, but as a professional artist for over 40 years, he saw the innate potential in Los Cabos.  The way one felt in the 50’s or 60’s is how it felt in Baja and that freedom feeling is intoxicating and contagious and everyone we spoke with felt it too, it was just a matter of time before this “hidden gem” would be discovered by the world.

I was just learning to paint and the atmosphere there was working its magic in my soul.  At some point, I became aware that the urge to paint was beginning to override any other considerations and we soon found ourselves discussing ideas to move to Los Cabos permanently.  Sitting on a beach late one afternoon we were watching the sea as the sun set behind us and we turned as the last rays caught a lone cactus silhouetted against the sky.  It was glowing so brightly that golden rays of light beamed out from it.  At that moment the name of our soon to be studio/gallery came to both of us at the same time.  We would call it The Golden Cactus Gallery.

“Nothing is so powerful as an idea whose time is come”.  Victor Hugo

Learning the art of living and doing business in a foreign country was about to begin in earnest.

Tune into the next blog for details on’ how to’ or more specifically ‘how not to”.

Adios for now  Marilyn

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So this is my second attempt at blogging – the first one fizzled when I had a confidence crisis with my tech skills on the computer. I’d just purchased an electronic notebook and after serious time invested writing my first blog, I hit a wrong key and the whole thing disappeared into the vault of blue I assume is now called “the cloud”. I usually don’t give up too easily, but I admit I’m a dinosaur when it comes to computers and have no real interest in learning.  A recently purchased typewriter is proving to be my undoing as well as the machine seems to have a mind of its own and bangs off letters, I swear just by looking at a key. I looked for a regular typewriter but they’ve gone the way of the dodo.

Reflecting on my dilemma, I realized that growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, having choices on just about anything and everyday life in general, seemed much less complicated.  Of course this is a rather simplistic view but things unfolded rather slowly, compared to the gruelling pace of today.

Growing up, my parents were unfamiliar with art and not much interested in it either, but neither were their friends.  We had the same pictures, in the same place, for as long as I can remember. One picture (my mother purchased it when she bought the sofa) was a variation of the same one I saw in all the other homes.  Art was something one took in school and of course everyone had some relation who “did art” and we had one or two poorly rendered watercolors on the wall too. However, once a painting was hung, it did not move unless the whole family moved.

Obviously art wasn’t a household word growing up so I suspect this is a long round-about way of getting to the point that  I didn’t begin “doing art” until late in my life.  Actually, it took my father’s death to bring the artistic urge up from where ever it was hiding.  My recollection of that time is sketchy but I do remember being deeply depressed and confused.  I loved my father and at 66 his death was so sudden and unexpected I had to make some sense of it and so I began a very serious spiritual quest to find answers.

Along the way, I discovered a hidden wellspring of creative energy which bubbled up and manifested in the need to paint. I found a mentor and began a journey which continues to this day.

In 1997 I moved to Cabo San Lucas Mexico to open a studio/gallery with my “mentor” now husband, artist Chris MacClure, spending a chaotic, wonderful 12 years there making art and stories.

Living life as an artist offers opportunities to transcend the mundane world and in this blog I would like to share some stories, ideas and experiences with others who also have discovered the transformative power of art or just want to go along for the ride. I hope you’ll join me on these weekly explorations.

Studio2Cactus Studio/Gallery in White Rock, BC Canada