Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Feliz Navidad to everyone from San Miguel de Allende, December 2013

San Miguel de Allende's Christmas tree stands before the Parroquia church
Giant Christmas tree at the San Miguel de Allende Jardin

Metal pointed stars and oil cloth stuffed hearts
decorate San Miguel's Christmas tree

Parroquia church the San Miguel de Allende Jardin
Gigante puppet at the San Miguel de Allende Christmas tree

Gigante puppet at the San Miguel de Allende Christmas tree

Laurie Beth Zuckerman wishes you FELIZ NAVIDAD!! I just took a magical trip to San Miguel de Allende in Colonial Mexico, timed to enjoy the twinkling Christmas season with its exuberant religious festivals and processions. The only thing missing was the Baby Jesus in the mangers. Not to worry, there are plenty of different size baby Jesuses on sale at the Artesans Marketplace holiday stalls. Wish I could have stayed in San Miguel through Christmas Day to photograph all of the mangers celebrating the birth of Jesus. Below are my photos of miniature and life-size nativity scenes in San Miguel, known as Nacimientos.

San Miguel de Allende's Christmas manger awaits the birth of Jesus.
This life-size creation stands before the La Parroquia parish church on the Jardin.
El Mercado de Artesanias sells a wide variety of handmade Nativity Scenes.
El Mercado de Artesanias sells small and large Baby Jesuses
for display in traditional home manger scenes, known as Nacimientos.

A Nacimiento photographed in progress at the Casa Carmen Bed and Breakfast.

The completed Nacimiento greets guests at the Casa Carmen Bed and Breakfast.
It is decorated with several varieties of living moss and antique clay figurines.

Love and thanks to my dear Rebecca Brooks for sharing her favorite secrets of San Miguel de Allende with all of us on her Loving Lupita Journey, December 10-19, 2013. I loved every magic moment. Stay tuned for more of my adventures from our journey to this historical World Heritage city in Mexico.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


On December 10, 2013, Laurie Beth Zuckerman will finally meet her artist friend, Rebecca Brooks in person. Over these past many years, our shared blog posts, facebook remarks, and personal emails have nurtured our relationship in cyberspace and deepened our mutual love and spiritual connection to Mexico and all things Mary. Finally we will come together in real space to share Rebecca's Loving Lupita tour of San Miguel de Allende. We arrive just in time to celebrate the festivals of La Virgen de Guadalupe. I just happen to share a birthday with the Guadalupe on December 12. 

Rebecca has invited me to teach my Memory Nicho Altar workshop in conjunction with her folk art and church tour of the region. Eight of the ten women on the trip will work with me over the course of our ten-day journey to create their own interpretation of a Guadalupe shrine, using a variety of old folk art and painting techniques. I can't wait to meet everyone and begin!!!

Above is a photo of the Guadalupe I took in 2005 on my first trip to San Miguel de Allende. I hope to find many more sweet and inspiring images of the Mother of Mexico to share on my blog. Meanwhile, below is a tiled Guadalupe shrine I encountered in the municipal cemetery in Oaxaca, Mexico during the Guadalupe festival of 2009. Dried up Día de los Muertos flowers are still decorating the shrine.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Laurie Beth Zuckerman photographed these wildly colored and beautifully eclectic Guadalupe shrines in Oaxaca, Mexico during the festival of the Virgen de Guadalupe outside of the Guadalupe church. Each of these lifesize shrine displays were designed and painted by individual vendors. The chairs and donkeys are used as props for children and parents to pose with the Guadalupe and Juan Diego for professional photographs.

On December 10, I travel to San Miguel de Allende for the festival of the Virgen de Guadalupe. I hope to find and photograph similar shrines at the churches and marketplaces celebrating the Mother of Mexico.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Laurie Beth Zuckerman's mausoleum altar,
in honor of her relatives, Rose and Frank Francia.

A rose is perfect,

with an indelible heart.

So why do they fade?

Laurie Beth Zuckerman has created a new altar for the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center's 2013 El Día de los Muertos exhibition. This Day of the Dead altar is a memorial of Rose and Frank Francia, the matriarch and patriarch of the Francia/Zuckerman family. This altar was built inside of a mausoleum structure, designed by myself and the museum's exhibition staff who also built it. It is derivative of mausoleums in Colonial Mexico that I have photographed in Oaxaca's municipal cemetery.

This is the third year I have contributed both an altar installation and Mexican cemetery photography to the Longmont Museum's annual exhibition. This time I was invited by the museum to participate on the committee to design this show. The concept this year was to turn the main gallery into a Mexican cemetery, known in Spanish as El Panteon. For my altar and photographic contributions, I received a stipend and an honorarium, and was invited to give a public lecture and gallery walk on October 16, 2013.

The El Día de los Muertos exhibition is currently on display through November 10, 2013. The ever popular Family Day Celebration is held on November 2. Two thousand people are expected to participate on that day, which officially honors the Day of the Dead in cemeteries throughout Mexico and Hispanic-American communities. I have included a few photographs taken during the festival.

Rose Francia's vintage porcelain statue of Our Lady of Fatima is from Portugal.

Below are photos of my Mausoleum Altar in context with the cemetery display created in the Longmont Museum's main gallery by the staff and volunteers.

The archway into the museum's cemetery display includes this flower stall,
being admired by Fort Collins environmental artist, Lynne Hull.

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's mausoleum is featured in the
Longmont Museum's Mexican cemetery installation.

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's mausoleum is featured in the
Longmont Museum's Mexican cemetery installation.

Families with kids in costume peak through the wrought iron doors of
Laurie Beth Zuckerman's mausoleum at her altar.

Laurie Beth Zuckerman provided her Mexican cemetery photography to the
walls and hallways of the Longmont Museum's El Día de los Muertos Exhibition.

Laurie Beth Zuckerman contributed her Mexican cemetery crypt photography
and design concept to this crypt wall built for the Longmont Museum exhibition.

Laurie Beth Zuckerman contributed her Mexican cemetery crypt photography
and design concept to this crypt wall built for the Longmont Museum exhibition.

The November 2 Day of the Dead Family Day Celebration
included these beautifully dressed singers in front of the crypt wall.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


A Virgin of Guadalupe window sticker next door to the
historic Holy Family Catholic Church in Fort Collins, Colorado

Laurie Beth Zuckerman had often wondered what she might find in Fort Collins' two landmark Catholic churches. Assuming they could be nothing like the colonial churches she likes to photograph in Latin America, these two turn-of-the-century churches actually hold some surprising riches. 

Today I am sharing scenes from the Saint Joseph Catholic Church, constructed in 1900 from sandstone blocks quarried in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. I entered the church on a day when not a soul was in the main chapel or praying at the altar. I photographed it all, but prefer the simplicity of this side prayer chapel to the more modern main altar. I was impressed by the 19 gothic stain-glassed windows throughout the vaulted church, depicting the Divine Mysteries.

Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Fort Collins was constructed in 1900

19 gothic stained-glass windows are the most distinctive aspect 
of the interior of the historic Saint Joseph Catholic Church

Saint Joseph Catholic Church lovely side chapel

Virgin Mary plaster statue in the Saint Joseph Catholic Church chapel

A plaster statue of Saint Joseph and baby Jesus in the chapel

I have posted these sightings of Mary in conjunction with Rebecca Brooks' Mornings with Mary. Please click on this link to view all of the wonderful words and photos at Rebecca's site.

Learn more about Rebecca's Loving Lupita journey to San Miguel de Allende. I will be joining Rebecca and teaching a Memory Nicho Altar workshop during her December 10-19 tour of this historic colonial region of Mexico. Come away with us!

Monday, August 12, 2013


The Holy Family concrete statue
Juan Diego concrete statue holding the cloak of the Virgin of Guadalupe

Closeup of the handpainted Virgin of Guadalupe

Back side of the Juan Diego concrete statue

The Holy Family Church with nicho containing statue of the Holy Family

The concrete statue of the Holy Family stands at the left of the church.

This week I discovered two sweet concrete statues outside The Holy Family Catholic Church of Fort Collins, Colorado. One is the Holy Family, Mary, Joseph, and the boy Jesus. The other is the infamous Juan Diego, holding his cloak with the miraculous image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Sadly, the statue of the Guadalupe is now missing from the landscape, and the fountain was not running. (See the photo below from the church website for reference.)  I planned to photograph inside the church, but it was locked. I will have to visit one morning after Mass, and ask what happened to the Guadalupe.

Photo of The Holy Family Catholic Church

Built in 1924, this historic Old Town church began serving Spanish-speaking Catholic sugarbeet workers at the Great Western Sugar plant. Their community, known as "Alta Vista" and "Spanish Colony," was founded in 1927. There is now the Museo de las Trés Colonias, dedicated to the history of these Hispanic communities. I will make a foray there the next time it is open. Fort Collins History Connection

Forgotten Fort Collins's website tells the story of Lee Martinez who helped build the church. His family came from Southern Colorado's Huerfano County in 1906. I am enjoying reading about his prominent role in the early days of Fort Collins history.

So...much more photography to come in my exploration of the Spanish-Catholic influences on this frontier town of Fort Collins.

Please stop by and visit Rebecca Brooks' Mornings with Mary, as I have linked my post to her sharing.