Real de Catorce
THE “WONDERFULLY strange semi-ghost town of Real de Catorce” could be a fine alternative to San Miguel de Allende for those looking for a Mexican town of considerable colonial charm and a population of expats and artists.
The 10th edition of the Rough Guide to Mexico calls it “an extraordinary place.” In the last quarter of the 18th century and throughout the 19th it was a town made rich by its silver mines. But in 1905 the last of them closed and the town’s population, once 40,000, dropped to almost zero. The handsome mansions lost their roofs; their foundations crumbled.
“Legend has it that Real was ‘discovered’ in the 1970s by an Italian hippy searching for peyote,” says the guidebook, adding that, “since the mid-1990s, an influx of artists, artesanía vendors, wealthy Mexicans and a few foreigners have given the town impetus to start rebuilding.” Even today, though, “Real de Catorce certainly retains an air of desolation…most of the traffic is horses and donkeys.”
Real de Catorce is 672 kilometres north of Mexico City (via San Luis Potosí). The last 2.3 kilometres are through a one-lane tunnel opened in 1901 that has the odd mineshaft leading off from it into the mountain. On the plaza is the Casa de Moneda, a magnificent mansion built in 1865 to mint Real’s silver. Now it’s the art gallery and cultural centre. Other old mansions have been turned into Real’s best accommodations. Among the guidebook’s recommendations are Mesón de Abundancia (http://mesonabundancia.com), “huge stone-built rooms with beamed ceilings”; and Mesón del Refugio (http://mesondelrefugio.net), an 18th-century mansion “completely renovated in a chic, modern style.”
Three hundred years of Romanov reign came to a violent end in 1917 when the Russian imperial family was murdered by revolutionaries, ushering in 70 years of Communist rule. Romanovs & Revolution. The End of the Monarchy marks the 100th anniversary of the events that changed Russia and the world. The exhibition, at the Hermitage Amsterdam from 4 Feb. to 17 Sept. 2017, will include over 250 items, most from the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Among them will be articles of the imperial family’s clothes, the children’s toys, Nicholas’s Act of Abdication and one of the murder weapons. Visitors will see and hear how choices made by the tsar made revolution inevitable. http://hermitage.nl
Walker Evans (1903-1975) was a major figure in the creation of the field we now call documentary photography. He made his name taking pictures of the American South during the Great Depression, but his work spanned six decades, from the 1920s through the 1970s. More than 200 of his black-and-white and colour prints, arranged chronologically, are on view at the Vancouver Art Gallery in Walker Evans: Depth of Field from 29 Oct. 2016 to 22 Jan. 2017. The exhibition, previously seen at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, is the one of the most comprehensive assessments yet of Evan’s career. http://vanartgallery.bc.ca
Seventy costumes from a galaxy far away go on display at the Denver Art Museum from 13 Nov. 2016 to 2 Apr. 2017 as the travelling Star Wars and the Power of Costume exhibition reaches the mile-high city. Organized by the Smithsonian and George Lucas’s Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, the show focuses on the creative process behind creating the costume—and hence, to some degree, the character—for everyone from Darth Vader to Han Solo. See how the evil emperor Palpatine’s outfits change as he descends into darkness, and admire the intricacy of Padmé’s gowns. “Walking into the galleries is like entering a room of old friends,” wrote the New York Times when the show visited Manhattan last summer. http://denverartmuseum.org
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