FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Altitude: 2020 meters
Nearest town: Maravatío, Michoacan (32,146 hab) 6 km away
Temperature: High 75°F / 24°C (May/June session), Low 40°F / 6°C (January session)
Precipitation: late June through early September is rain season (rains everyday for a couple of hours, usually in the afternoon).
Surrounding landscape: mainly agricultural fields (flat land) with bordering stretches of trees and nearby hills, where the Monarch butterflies nest (October-March). A narrow river (25 ft wide) and shallow (4-8 ft deep) surrounds the property.
Sleeping is in single or double rooms. We have standard bedsheets, pillows, and wool blankets. No need for moskitoe nets—there’s barely any moskitoes, since it’s high altitude and nights are kind of cold. Bathrooms are shared between 2-3 people each. FACILITIES ARE VERY RUSTIC (old water pipes, ceramic tiles, basic furniture and lighting).
Is there electricity and running water?
Yes, but the service and infrastructure is not very reliable…on occasion we run out of electricity or water for half a day or a full day. There’s always bottled water for drinking, stream water for bathrooms, and candles for romantic dinners!
Food and Water
The house is supplied with potable water, brought underground directly from a natural spring 2 km away. As a precaution (considering the old water pipes in the house), we drink bottled water, and raw food is disinfected with an anti-microbial solution. Our kitchen is not vegetarian, however, vegetarian and/or vegan dietary requirements can usually be accommodated. Soy and meat substitute products are very scarce in this region of Mexico. If you have any special dietary needs or allergies, please let us know a month in advance.
Health Facilities and Insurance
We do not provide health insurance; YOU MUST PROVIDE YOUR OWN. There are good doctors, a hospital and an emergency room in Maravatío (6 kms away).
Is it possible to take trips to surrounding towns and sites?
Yes, there’s frequent bus service to Maravatio, Tlalpujahua, El Oro, Morelia, Patzcuaro and more (every 20 minutes). It takes about 15-90 mins to get there, and costs are $6-150 pesos each way.
Computer and Printer access
There’s no computer or internet access at the Hacienda, but there are several internet and computer/printing services in Maravatío. You can either bring your laptop there or lease one of their computers for $10 pesos an hour.
Art Materials and Equipment
Available in Maravatío: industrial, construction and agricultural materials stores, as well as standard arts, crafts & office supplies. If you need professional art materials, videotapes or any specialty item, you should bring them with you. We don’t recommend shipping your materials in advance.
Is there a workshop where we can find working tools?
Yes, we have a room at the hacienda with basic tools like hammer, saw, sander, screwdrivers, hardware, shovels, and various other tools and materials.
Are any of the studios equipped with a sound system and speakers?
No, only the living room. Artists needing a sound system and speakers usually bring their laptop computer and a Bluetooth speaker.
Travel and Materials’ Funding
This is the responsibility of each participant. Upon being accepted to the program, we recommend contacting your embassy in Mexico and other funding sources in your country for support. If you are selected, we can help you in this process by writing you a letter confirming your participation and giving you any funding contacts we see appropriate.
Who is in charge of the exhibition printings?
As you know, our program focuses on art and ecology integration, and our exhibition is aimed at exposing our community (rural, low-income families) to new creative perspectives and cross-cultural exchange. So, I always encourage residents to think of low-budget, inclusive, ecological and innovative approaches to exhibiting their work. Our support only covers exhibition space and staff to assist you in installing the work. I would advise not to print anything, unless it is absolutely necessary, in which case, printing expenses will have to be covered by yourself or other funding sources. Same goes with any other material used in your project, or special installation expenses such as machinery rental and custom-made displays.
What happens with the art works after the exhibition?
All work produced at the residency remains property of the artist, unless the artist gifts it to our organization. If you are taking the work with you after the residency, you must arrange all shipping and handling yourself. If the artist gifts the work to our organization, we will do our best to display and preserve the work for as long as possible, always crediting the artist.
Usually, do participants work more collaboratively or individually?
Both; depends on people’s interests and affinities.
Are there any planned activities for the residency or do they occur more organically?
Usually more organically, but again, depends on the group dynamics, needs and wants.
What is the engagement like between the participants and the local residents?
It is up to each of the artists in residency. There’s an elementary school across the road so kids are always around. Adults are more shy but open and available if invited to participate in something.
“Someone from Venezuela said I should be careful not to get kidnapped in Mexico, that it is dangerous for a visible gringa. What about that?”
That happens in Mexico City. Of course, you should still be very cautious and avoid being alone in the streets after dark, don’t hauler taxicabs on the street (call a recommended car service) and don’t wear fancy clothes or jewelry.
“I have read the travel advisories issued by the U.S. State Department regarding Michoacan as a result of some of the drug violence…What is your honest assessment?”
La Familia Michoacana (the drug cartel in the state) began to dissolve in 2010. Some members of the cartel formed the Caballeros Templarios. They have proved to be quite “ethical” in terms of violence towards civilians or tourists in the area (none so far). Nevertheless, they keep a strong pressure towards the government, extracting/laundering large amounts of money, particularly from the cultural budget (the unfortunate reason why we are unable to get more funds for our project), which they use to “hire” their entertainment people at fairs and “cultural events”. The artistic quality of these events of course lets much to be desired. It is also speculated that they run the police. Ironically, many people around the area actually prefer this setup, since, in their opinion, the government was doing a lousy job at it. As an artist in residency with us, you need not to worry about your safety. We are backed up by a local human rights association and freeDimensional, an international NGO whose goal is “to support culture in the service of free expression, justice and equality.” They are committed to protecting critical voices through safe haven in artist residency apartments and quick-response funding when in danger. So, if anything happened, we would get out of the situation very quickly and safely.
“I am definitely having a serious creative block in regards to the relevance of continuing traditional art methods. I was trained somewhat classically and have been at a loss creatively for some time. What could a relatively traditional artist walk away from your residency with an awareness of?”
From post-residency evaluations, our program has proven to be very effective for exactly the two challenges you mention. Our residency has served as a “jump start” for many alumni (125 so far), perhaps because:
- We are located in a beautiful rural setting, one that is often very different from people’s hometowns around the globe, so people get very inspired by the site.
- We are surrounded by a vibrant small community that is both rooted in tradition and fueled by our innovative programming.
- We are across the road from an elementary school, so kids are always around, eager to explore, learn and play with visiting artists; this infuses new energy into our activities.
- Our intimate groupings of artists are carefully curated to form interdisciplinary, intergenerational and multi-cultural teams so that participants get fed creatively and get stimulating feedback and collaboration opportunities.
- Although we are always pushing for innovation and profound discourse, we provide a loose, pressure-free platform where artists can freely explore, experiment and get inspired.
- We provide home-made, organic, delicious food! that way, residents can concentrate on their projects and just show up to enjoy wholesome meals to fuel their minds and bodies.