Zahava Sherez was born in Argentina, grew up in Israel and currently maintains studios in California and Mexico. She is fluent in English, Spanish and Hebrew. She is a painter and a sculptor. Her work expresses her life experience-immigrations, wars, loss as well as the richness of numerous cultures through poetry, color, and spirituality. Her sculptures received an Award of Excellence in “Manhattan Arts International” juried exhibition; she won “Special Recognition” Merit Award from Upstream Gallery, and an Honorable Mention from Sculptural Pursuit Magazine. Many publications have featured her artwork such as Best of America Sculpture Artists 2007 & 2010, Art Revue Magazine, and Sculptural Pursuit magazine. Sherez has been teaching stone carving, clay sculpture, and mixed media for the last 30 years including eight years at Pixar University/Pixar Animation Studios and workshops in Puerto Rico and Mexico.
Elizabeth Irwin is a playwright, screenwriter, and teacher based in New York City. She has come to 360 Xochi Quetzal each summer for the last three years to work on a specific project. Last year she came with her sidekick Sinatra. There are a lot of nuggets here for aspiring writers. Enjoy the interview.
You have been to Chapala three times as part of the 360 Xochi Quetzal personal residency program. What keeps you coming back?
I find Chapala to be a wonderful, typical Mexican town. It’s not overrun by tourists. It’s lively but quiet. The food is wonderful and inexpensive. The people are friendly and it’s just really nice to be able to shop at the weekly open air markets, walk by the lake, enjoy traditional food and practice my Spanish while still having hours every day to devote to my writing. I also find Cobra and her husband to be excellent hosts and have very much enjoyed getting to know them.
What benefits have you derived from the residencies?
Having time and space away from my typical obligations in New York is vital. Having the luxury of simply being. Creating the rhythm of my own days. Taking advantage of what Chapala has to offer on some days and staying quiet on others, taking it all in from the rooftop as I look at the mountains and the sky.
How has each residency been different for you?
As I get to know the town better, I find my own little secret delights and then return to the ones I love. This past year I brought my dog and she pulled me (literally) off in new directions too including an excellent juice stand, far from the center of town so I have to thank her for that!.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on a TV pilot about sex workers advocating for their rights as well as rewriting a TV pilot about a public school teacher coach. I’m also working on a play about a group of women in a domestic violence support group.
What are some highlights of this residency program for you? How can we make this program better?
The highlight for me is the very open nature of the residency. It’s as isolated or social as you want. It’s as low key or intense as you desire. I wouldn’t change anything!
What other residencies have you attended and how does 360 Xochi Quetzal compare?
Most of the other residences I’ve attended (Space on Ryder Farm, Omega Institute, Primary Stages at Bennington College, Playwrights Realm Alumni Retreat) are more group focused which is nice. It creates a sense of camaraderie. But this feeds the other part of my personality that just wants to do her own little thing and not speak to anyone until after noon.
Tell us about who you are as a writer and the trajectory of your career.
I’m a playwright who is branching out into TV writing and memoir writing. I’m concerned with social justice issues and how the personal and political don’t just intersect but lie in bed with each other all day everyday. I started off writing pretty straightforward naturalistic plays but recently felt more comfortable playing around with form. I like the idea of having art imitate life. Yes, our lives progress in this straightforward naturalistic way in one sense. But when you account for our rich inner lives and how they live alongside our day to day, you see how a true accounting of life can encompass both of those.
What productions are in the works for you in the coming year?
I’m a member of the Primary Stages Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group and we have a reading series every spring in which we showcase what we worked on throughout the year. That is my current focus – figuring out how to work with heart and a clear vision on my piece this year.
How do you support yourself as a writer?
I began my career as a teacher so I still do a lot of work in the education field – part-time teaching, consulting for education nonprofits, training teachers. I make some money from writing, too.
What advice do you have for writers who are starting out?
Learn your own unique process for writing and rewriting and then accept it and work within it. Don’t beat yourself up because your process isn’t like someone else’s or how you think it should be. I had to learn that the first time I hear criticism I hate it and think it’s stupid. Usually after I go home, take a walk, or a bath, I can actually hear what was said and then consider it for rewrites. That’s just how I am and I share this with my collaborators so they understand my reactions. I also know that I write best I focus on small chunks and that I need a lot of support around structure. Therefore I make my schedule like that and I invest in getting the support I need. Figure out what works for you and then don’t fight it.
We are proud to announce that one of our 360 Xochi Quetzal Resident Writers, Selena Anderson, is one of the six winners of the prestigious Rona Jaffe Foundation Award. This prize is granted to writers who demonstrate great talent and promise and comes with a $40,000 award.
Anderson says that when she got the call about winning the prize, she tried to sound cool but was silently jumping up and down. Her nominator writes, “Selena articulates, through brilliant prose, the fears and thoughts that preoccupy modern society. I have been consistently struck by the ways in which she balances the confidence of a mature writer with the vulnerability that characterizes the most impactful work. There is, at once, an emotional honesty and physical reality to her writing that has captivated me from story to story.” She also won the Transatlantic/Henfield Prize in fiction writing.
Selena is finishing a novel about three best friends who write letters to men in prison and working on a new project about the Texas-to-Mexico underground railroad. Anderson says that she will use some of the prize money to fund childcare so that she can finish some of her work-in-progress. https://www.ronajaffefoundation.org/2019/Winner/Selena-Anderson
https://thebaffler.com/fiction/tenderoni-anderson (for an excerpt of Tenderoni)
Ms. Anderson did her undergraduate work at the University of Texas at Austin and got her M.F.A. at Columbia, where she said “the best lesson … was to read with purpose.” She received her Ph.D. from the University of Houston. Tenderoni, Anderson’s recent collection of short stories melds fantasy and realism. The Rona Jaffe Foundation described it as examining “the boundaries of realism and fantasy … and interrogates the ideas of race, identity, and Black womanhood in the American South.” She is also finishing two other novels, Quinella and Cenisa, Samira, Monet. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming from Glimmer Train (see Amazon link below), Kenyon Review, Joyland, AGNI, The Best of Gigantic Anthology, Oxford American, The Georgia Review, Bomb, Callaloo, and Fence, among others. In addition to 360 Xochi Quetzal, Anderson has also attended residencies at the Breadloaf Writer’s Conference, the MacDowell Colony, the Carson McCullers Center and the Kimbilio Center. Selena is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at San José State University in California and Director of their Center for Literary Arts.
We are proud to announce that one of our 360 Xochi Quetzal Resident Writers, Selena Anderson, is one of the six winners of the prestigious Rona Jaffe Foundation Award. This prize is granted to writers who demonstrate great talent and promise and comes with a $40,000 award. Anderson says that when she got the call about winning the prize, she tried to sound cool but was silently jumping up and down. Her nominator writes, “Selena articulates, through brilliant prose, the fears and thoughts that preoccupy modern society. I have been consistently struck by the ways in which she balances the
https://thebaffler.com/fiction/tenderoni-anderson (for an excerpt of Tenderoni) https://blogs.sjsu.edu/newsroom/tag/selena-anderson/ https://www.ronajaffefoundation.org/2019/Winner/Selena-Anderson https://www.amazon.com/Glimmer-Train-Stories-Terrence-Cheng/dp/1595530282/ref=sr_1_7?dchild=1&keywords=selena+anderson&qid=1594741769&sr=8-7 https://www.oxfordamerican.org/magazine/item/1817-godmother-tea http://kimbiliofiction.com/?s=selena+anderson
In Mexico, seniors are traditionally cared for in the homes of relatives. But a boom of foreign retirees, many of them Americans, have begun moving to Mexico to live out their years, paying much less for independent and assisted living than in other countries. Special correspondent Kathleen McCleery reports.
A great many artists visit and receive inspiration from the beauty and tranquility that Lake Chapala has to offer. Lakeside has begun to attract many younger people as well. Mild climate, affordable cost of living, inexpensive medical and dental care, and many other service are a huge draw to the area for young and old alike!
November, 2020 (Cancelled due to Covid- please see below)
Feria Maestros del Arte (English – Masters of Art Fair) is a non profit organization and annual three-day event held to support Mexican handcrafts and folk art in Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico. As an organization, it is a recognized in both Mexico and the United States. Unlike other fairs of this type, invited participants are not charged booth fees or percentages, and are even afforded transport and accommodations with area families. The Feria has grown from thirteen artisan participants to over eighty. The main focus is to support the continuing existence of Mexican folk art, which is disappearing in many places due to migration and industrialization. Volunteers work to find artisans, raise funds, set up and take down and all operations during the event.
The three day event is held every November, with the main attraction being stalls of merchandise brought by Mexican artisans for sale. As of 2015, there are were over 80 participating artisans, from various Mexican states, especially Chiapas, Oaxaca, Michoacán and Jalisco. However, there have been representatives from as far north as Chihuahua and south to Yucatán. The wares vary from many kinds of pottery such as bruñido (burnished), petallillo, pineapple forms from Michoacan, recreations of pre Hispanic pieces, amate paper, alpaca cutlery, alebrijes from Oaxaca, wicker furniture, dolls, Catrina figures and numerous textiles, especially from Oaxaca and Chiapas. To date, the event has been popular mostly with foreign buyers, both living in and visiting Mexico, but it does attract a number of Mexican buyers as well. Many of the buyers are folk art collectors.
The artisans who participate are invited by the organization and change each year. These artisans are vetted by representatives of the Feria, with visits to workshops to see what is done, the quality and the make sure the wares are made by the artisans themselves. Some are already well known in Mexican folk art circles, such as those featured in works such as the Grand Masters of Mexican Folk Art, but others are completely unknown. Some are families who have done the craft for generations. As the purpose is to support the artisans, participants are not charged booth fees or a percentage of sales. Transportation of artisans is paid for by the Feria as well, with the same being housed by volunteer families in their homes. These families are mostly expats living in and near Chapala, and they not only provide beds, but also food and social outlets. The organization states that it helps to create inter-cultural bonds, and for many of the artisans, their first contact with the world outside their home. Some of the artisans are illiterate and many never have been out of their hometowns.
Maestros COVID-19 Sales
Due to the cancellation of the 2020 Feria, artisans invited for this year will NOT have the advantage of taking home monies from Feria sales. Toward helping them through Covid-19, artists highlighted with the words “Covid-19” have provided photos and information on pieces currently for sale. We have also added artisans from other years.
Please click here to view the artisans with online sales. They need your support!
Guadalajara, Mexico Nov 28– Dec 06, 2020
The Guadalajara International Book Fair, better known as the FIL (from its Spanish name: Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara) is the most important annual event of its kind in the Spanish-speaking world, but second in attendance after Buenos Aires‘, and the second largest book fair in the world after Frankfurt‘s. The purpose of the FIL is to provide an optimal business environment for the book-industry professionals and exhibitors who attend the fair, and for the reading public eager to meet authors and pick up the latest entries in the market. With business as one of its main goals, it is also a cultural festival in which literature plays a major role including a program where authors from all continents and languages participate, and a forum for the academic discussion of the major issues of our time.
Created in 1987, the FIL is put on by the University of Guadalajara and is held at the Expo Guadalajara convention center, which has 40,000 m2 of floor space. FIL is held every year, starting on the last Saturday in November and continuing for nine days, in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.
For nine days, people willingly stand in long lines to listen to their favorite authors, the book industry makes Guadalajara its beating heart and the whole city is filled with the music, arts, cinema and theatre from the featured Guest of Honor which this year is Latin America.
For more information regarding events, registration, schedules, see the FIL website
Comments from 360 Xochi Quetzal Artists:
“FIL was wonderful and it was so energizing to be surrounded by so many books and readings from all over the world.”-Elizabeth HawkinsWriter and Immigration Attorney, Seattle
“What an awesome experience to travel to the Feria Internacional de Libros with fellow lovers of literature. So many books. So much fun. Can’t wait to do it again.”-Susan NadathurWriter, Puerto Rico
It’s a Dead Man’s Party!
Come the beginning of November, Mexican families throw a feast and invite the dead over for dinner. Though Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is often confused with Halloween due to the proximity in time, this holiday is not about ghouls and goblins, but instead honors the dead and welcomes their souls home as a blessing.
Altars and offerings are a way to remember family members who have passed into the afterlife, as well as celebrities, beloved to the Mexican population. In this culture, the lines between life and death are blurred and the acceptance of mortality becomes a liberation from fear. Indeed, life and death live on parallel planes in Mexico. This beautiful festival has a profound life lesson that transcends life itself.
Celebrated in central and southern Mexico during the chilly days of November 1 & 2. It is believed that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them.
In most villages, beautiful altars (ofrendas) are made in each home. They are decorated with candles, buckets of flowers (wild marigolds called cempasuchil & bright red cock’s combs) mounds of fruit, peanuts, plates of turkey mole, stacks of tortillas and big Day-of-the-Dead breads called pan de muerto. The altar needs to have lots of food, bottles of soda, hot cocoa and water for the weary spirits. Toys and candies are left for the angelitos, and on Nov. 2, cigarettes and shots of mezcal are offered to the adult spirits. Little folk art skeletons and sugar skulls, purchased at open-air markets, provide the final touches.
Day of the Dead is a very expensive holiday for these self-sufficient, rural based, indigenous families. Many spend over two month’s income to honor their dead relatives. They believe that happy spirits will provide protection, good luck and wisdom to their families. Ofrenda building keeps the family close.
On the afternoon of Nov. 2, the festivities are taken to the cemetery. People clean tombs, play cards, listen to the village band and reminisce about their loved ones. Tradition keeps the village close. Day of the Dead is becoming very popular in the U.S.~ perhaps because we don’t have a way to celebrate and honor our dead, or maybe it’s because of our fascination with it’s mysticism.
A very special time in Chapala is the bigger than life size Catrina’s all along the malecon (boardwalk). They are generally produced by local organizations, schools, and charities. Sometimes with a theme..The wedding Catrina to the left is made entirely from trash bags! A sight to behold!! And the streets along Francisco Madero are lined with alters celebrating the lives of loved ones and Mexican dignities.
Treat the spirits with respect and speak well of them always. While it’s a celebration, it’s not Halloween and it’s a festival about respect.
Paint your face. Join in the festivities and surrender your face to be painted by one of the local artists.
Tour a graveyard. Altars are an important part of the festivities and cemetery tours are a good way to visit the atmospheric altars. However, be very respectful of family celebrations. Ask to take photos and ask questions.
The best collection of Day of the Dead memorabilia can be found at Diane Pearl Collections, the premiere gift shop in all of Lakeside!
Her collection of beautiful Catrinas are amazing and must be seen to be beleived!
Did you know?
Catrinas are made all over Mexico. They were originally inspired by the famous “La Calavera Catrina” etching by Jose Guadalupe Posada, which depicted a very well dressed woman at the turn of the century as a skeleton. However, the Catrina was made popular by a Diego Rivera mural.
Since then, Catrina has come to symbolize not only El Día de los Muertos but also the Mexican willingness to laugh at death itself.
We have an amazing and, we think, the most complete and impressive collection of Catrinas in all of Mexico! From 4 inches to 4 feet in every imaginable attire.
From funny to scary, ugly to beautiful, large and small alike, perusing our huge selection is an experience all its own. Ask any of our staff to get one out for you and tell you about its meaning and about the artist who created it.
Click here to see the: DAY OF THE DEAD photo gallery
By Kristina Morgan Focus on Mexico
Lake Chapala is Mexico’s largest lake nestled in a ring of mountains with colorful fishing villages strung like pearls along the north shore where a slower pace of life awaits you. If you want to leave the rat race behind for a time or forever, Lake Chapala warrants a closer look, with friendly people to welcome you, many say the magic of Lake Chapala is something you just have to experience to believe.
Lake Chapala doesn’t have the desert or the hot, humid weather of common tourist areas. Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city, is less than an hour with all the amenities you could hope for with world-class shopping and cultural arts. With its semi-tropical climate, Lake Chapala is a land that is every awakening. Situated in the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountains of South Western Mexico, it is located in a valley with an elevation of over 5,000 feet above sea level. The protective mountains create a micro-climate that averages 75F or 24C year round. According to National Geographic, Lake Chapala has the second best climate in the world. Like the fabled Camelot, even when the cooling rains come from June to September, it almost always rains at night. In the morning, the sunshine is back and the humidity is just high enough to keep the brightly colored flowers blooming and turn the mountains a lush, tropical green. Color is everywhere. Flowers draped from balconies, hanging baskets, fences, borders and trees.
This is truly a cosmopolitan community where everyone is welcome. International Living Magazine has ranked Mexico as the number one place to retire in the world for the past two years in a row. More people than ever are opting to live outside their home countries to take advantage of the lower cost of living. On average, you can save 30% living here. There is world class health care at a fraction of the cost you’ll find north of the border.
Frequently called the “Chapala Riviera” with its cobblestone streets, flowering trees, lush mountains, tranquil lifestyle, low cost of living, Lake Chapala has become a popular destination for visitors, who then fall in love with the pace and the people and make this their home.
In the 1960’s, hippies and artists discovered Lake Chapala. This created an eclectic blend of art and personality which, of course, attracted more artists and has turned Lakeside into a flourishing artists community, home to dozens of galleries and craftsman of every kind, an attraction that continues to beckon today as is evidenced by the whimsy and color at Lake Chapala.
You’ll also see some delightful forms of transportation such as donkeys and horses. Along with that, is the safety they feel in the village streets and sidewalks, day and night.
English is spoke everywhere. Wireless internet access and Vonage service is inexpensive and people can email or call their families back home. There are many recreational activities – tennis, golf, horseback riding, boating, fishing, biking, hiking. Plus there are so many English language clubs and charitable organizations, that no one could ever be lonely or bored. Mexico has been called the land of fiestas. There are 5,000 registered fiestas in Mexico and festivals are always great fun and feasts for the senses. With all the dancing, food, music, drinking and wonderful sights, culture is expressed through these fiestas and celebrations all year round.
The services are world-class – cozy B&Bs, gracious 5-star hotels and bungalows – you’ll find the perfect place to feel at home. There are a wealth of restaurants ranging from Italian, Greek, Argentinian, Chinese, Thai and of course the best margaritas in the world. There are movies in English at the local cinema, English TV, water park and a community theater with plays performed in English. There are places to worship in every Christian denominations. If you are looking for a home with a village-pace of life, you’ll find exactly what you want – condos with concierge services, charming homes with stonework, handpainted tile, beamed ceilings and outdoor living.