18 April 2010

Our Lady of the Strawberries

Strawberries, or "Fresas" (FRAY-suhs) as they are called in Spanish, have been grown in Irapuato since 1852 and for over one hundred years Irapuato was known as the Strawberry Capital of the World. I wrote a blog post about Irapuato strawberries in July of last year called "Las Fresas de Irapuato". In the 1880's when the railroad came through Irapuato it became vouge when passing through town to eat some "fresas con crema" or "strawberries with cream". This phrase "fresas con crema" resonates down through the years to this day and people traveling the highway through Irapuato are still invited by roadside vendors to stop for some "fresas con crema". You can find quite a few strawberry vendors on the road from the León airport to Irapuato. They sit patiently by the side of the road with their baskets of strawberries and beckon you to stop as you whiz by. Many of the vendors are women who are dressed in traditional garb against the wind and the dust and sun and I have often wondered what their lives must be like. Picking strawberries early in the morning and then suffering the dust from the road all day while sitting in the hot sun can't be fun but they seem very calm and stoic about it.

I have never seen a statue of the Virgin Mary dedicated to strawberry pickers and if there were to be one I tried to imagine what she would look like. I imagined her sitting calmly and sweetly by the side of the road with her head framed by the sun like a halo and a dove representing the Holy Spirit fluttering around her arranging strawberry flowers in a wreath to crown her. In my mind's eye I saw her holding a basket of strawberries on her lap and against her bosom. These strawberries represent her son Jesus who is both her treasure and ours and she invites all passers by to partake of the strawberries. The whole thing was like a vision or a dream and I decided to try and capture it on canvas. You can see by my feeble attempt below that I am no doubt much better as a dreamer than a painter. The size is approximately 24" by 32" and I painted it with odds and ends of leftover house paint and some poster paints that I bought at Walmart. I have come to realize that I will never be an artist but at least you can get my idea. I call her "Nuestra Señora de las Fresas". Enjoy!

28 comments:

Tancho said...

You worry me my friend.

You say "I have come to realize that I will never be an artist but at least you can get my idea."

I think you need to get your eyeglass prescription checked.

The definition of an artist is someone who is able by virtue and talent or skill create of work of aesthetic value.

You are kidding yourself? Did the nuns tell you in school that you would never amount to being an artist or something like that?


Your talent is remarkable.

Looking at your so called vision or dream transformed by using some odd and ends paints, is beautiful.
There are lots of people who call themselves artists that cannot hold a candle to what you have tossed together.
The first painting you posted the one with a few trees etc, was also something that I would see in an high end magazine illustration. I think you should continue on with your attempt, since there are lots of people making a lots of money with their paintings that are horrible compared to yours.
I myself cannot draw anything except a For Sale sign, you on the other hand have the dove, the composition and colors of your Virgin Mary and the printing I find in awe.
Don't kid yourself, I have seen a lot of art in my day and you do have a talent....keep it up.

Bob Mrotek said...

Tancho,
It is not talent. It is only persistence and determination. You said "I myself cannot draw anything except a For Sale sign". Yes, that was me too and awhile back I decided to do something about it so by trial and error I have gotten to this point. The idea is not to make money. The idea is to look at something and say, "I can't believe I did that". Now all I have to worry about is cutting off my ear :)

Tancho said...

I for one would be willing to pay for your efforts, don't underestimate yourself!

Anonymous said...

She is beautiful. Judy

Ray Clifton said...

Bob, I totally agree with Tancho and Judy.

I've seen stuff in galleries in C.A. that isn't as good. Great painting.

Leah Flinn said...

I like La Senora de las Fresas :-)

One question though (since I can't the image well), why is the one flower on the wreath out pf place a bit?

Bob Mrotek said...

Leah,

The out-of-place flower is the last one that the dove is putting into the wreath. He is just finishing up :)

Thank you everyone for all of the kind comments!

- Mexican Trailrunner said...

This is a WONDERFUL painting! It's folksy and I love it.
Agree with Tancho and all the others, it's really cute and the story behind it makes it all the better.
You are talented, keep it up. Must be rewarding. . .

Calypso said...

Good Stuff Hombre!

Amanda said...

bob I love it you did a great job. The problem is what we imaginative people do is to expect to spit out of our minds exactly what we see there. And when that does not happen we don't like our work. But others see a wonderful creation, which is what we all see here.the other day this got brought up in contrast to how we should not judge ourselves. We are so often to easy or to hard on ourselves and its kind of like when we make a painting or other form of art we should not be the judge of how good it is. Well done. You know you also did well with your words I have to admit I had a pretty awesome view in my head just from reading your description this also is a great form of art. During a bible study.

1st Mate said...

It's wonderful, the best yet that you've shared on this blog. I bet the strawberry ladies would be thrilled to see it. Bob, you have a unique talent, whether you call yourself an artist or not.

Don Cuevas said...

Muy bonita, de veras.

Saludos,
Don Cuevas

Leslie Limon said...

Bob, she's BEAUTIFUL! Please listen to all of us, you have been given a wonderful talent. And I am glad to see that you are putting it to good use.

C and G Taylor said...

I love your beautiful painting, it doesn't matter whether it's your first, or 1,000th, it is full of feeling and grace and is beautiful. How large is it?

I hope you have plenty of time to do more....
Gigi

Laurie said...

Great strawberry lady. Now, Louisiana has a Strawberry Queen who reigns over the parade of strawberries just north of New Orleans. I bet she would be jealous of this pic.

Billie said...

Bob, you ARE an artist.

When is the strawberry festival?

Bob Mrotek said...

Thank you, Billie. The Expo Fresas 2010 was March 5th through March 22nd :)

Alice said...

Since I was at the wheel on our drive home from San Miguel de Allende, I stopped by a strawberry vendor to inquire about her strawberries. She didn't know exactly how many kilos were in a canasta, but she was selling the basket for 75 pesos. But once I tried one, I was disappointed that they weren't sweet and passed. What's the rate for a canasta and what's the best time of year to buy them?

Bob Mrotek said...

Alice,
A lot depends upon the weather, the time of day, the strawberry crop, the size of the canasta, and your bargaining skills. I can generally get good strawberries for 40 pesos for a small canasta of about two kilos but I know where to look and what to say through trial and error. A chance stop on the highway is another matter. Like everything else strawberry hunting skills must be honed. Good luck and good hunting :)

On Mexican Time said...

Bob, OMG, if you saw what I could put on canvas... you would surely see the talent in your painting!! I can barely draw a stick person!!! The painting is beautiful. Really.

I also love the story about the Fresas con crema. It is so "neat" that all over Mexico you will find some kind of story, or tradition. I love it. Thank you for sharing another one!!!

Suzanne said...

Bob, I agree with everyone above, beautiful. Than you for sharing it with us all

Suzanne
www.livinginsanmiguel.wordpress.com

beckyc said...

I remember my mom telling me about her father moving the family from Texas to Arkansas to work in the strawberry fields. One penny per quart. They soon moved back in Texas.

jwvtmm said...

It's a serene image you have created.
You have a good eye, a steady hand and a big heart.
Your persistence has revealed your talent, Bob.
So, I'm not going to repeat the obvious.
But if you keep spreading misinformation we may all vote you off this blog!
John Ward

Maru64 said...

¿En Español ó en Inglés?...
Me ha dado mucho gusto tropezarme con tu blog. Como todos saben, llegué surfeando aquí y acá. Coincido en que tienes talento y que debes seguir pintando. Podrías tomar clases para perfeccionar. Hace tiempo llevé a mi hija con Paulina Zermeño (por la lata modelo y donde se ponen todos los circos que llegan a Irapuato)o bien en Casa de la Cultura.
Felicidades y seguiré visitando tu blog.
P.D. Vivo en Irapuato tambien.

Bob Mrotek said...

Maru64,
Mucho gusto en conocerla. Thank you for your kind comments. Yes, I know the place that you are talking about. I live only a few blocks from there. This Saturday from 10:am until noon I am going to take my first art lesson there. Wish me luck :)

Mike D. Jones said...

Most great art (for the majority of us) is "in the eye of the beholder". Whether or not this painting rivals something created by one of the Masters is not as important as your expression of the interior of your soul ...and *my* appreciation of your self-expression. With all sincerity, I would be honored to have this particular piece of art (or a copy)... hanging in my home ... probably with a light on it. Thanks for sharing!

Peter Romero said...

I don't know if you know this, but Our Lady has been depicted with strawberries in many medieval paintings. Strawberries symbolize Her simultaneous Virginity and Motherhood, as the strawberry plant can be both in flower and in fruit at the same time.

I love your painting.

Bob Mrotek said...

Peter,

Thanks for your comment. It is very interesting. I didn't know that. I'll have to check that out :)

Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.