Daily Camera LTE – Mission to Mante: Building a cultural bridge

By Rich Lopez
Visit his blog on The Daily Camera

At time when U.S. health care has been the topic of newspapers across the country, there is another activity that continues quietly. This year marks the 20th time that physicians, nurses, technicians and volunteers travel to Mante, Mexico, at their own expense, to provide free medical care to poor and unemployed citizens. Last year the team, lead by Mike Moran from Boulder Community Hospital, saw 5,000 clinic patients; performed 257 eye surgeries and 263 surgical procedures. The team received more “thanks” in a week than anyone could imagine.

In 2000, I had the honor of traveling to Mante to sign the Boulder Mante Sister Cities proclamation. Over time, student and teacher exchanges grew from the relationship. Today, a retired Boulder fire truck still protects citizens in Mante thanks to the generosity of the late Tom Eldridge. The mural that graces the north wall of The Dairy Center was a gift from Mante, painted by Florian Lopez.

This year, Jeannie DeMarinis assembled an art show that will travel to Mante to be displayed in the Ramon Cano Gallery. The show will include paintings of the Boulder area, artistic kites by Airworks and Elizabeth Black`s Ditch Project slide show. Mante citizens will be able to visit Boulder through its artists. We`re building more cultural bridges.

The city of Boulder has declared the week of Feb. 12-20 as Boulder Mante Week. We invite everyone to follow the activities this year by visiting http://missiontomante.pmpblogs.com or http://boulder-mante.org.

Read more: Letters to the Editor – Feb. 9 – Boulder Daily Camera

Hangin in Mante

By Rich Lopez
Visit his blog on The Daily Camera

Florian kiteYuki Mikle

February 12, 2010: Team members gather in the lobby of the Hotel Monterey for coffee, jugo and conversation. The first day of unpacking the supply trailer and warehouse we well. Today the hospital and clinic teams will clean and arrange table, tools, and supplies in preparation for the first day seeing patients, Saturday.

It’s a beautiful day, sunshine warm, unlike yesterday that found us flying through rainstorms from Houston to Tampico. Volunteers are the key to efforts like the medical mission. People become inspired by the work and come forward. A man, Gary, is a Mante native who spent 5 years in the US. He speaks English and wants his daughter to practice her English. So both have volunteered. Gary has a pickup and I asked him to drive us to the Gallery with the traveling “art show.

Lamya Deeb

We arrive at the Ramon Cano Gallery and find Florian in an empty room. That’s about to change. First we assemble the kites. Florian and his assistants are amazed with the “comet” kite. Eyes widen as the “comet’s tail” is unfurled. Next comes the bird kite. It too brings grins. Soon they are suspended from the ceilings.

We need to frame a few more paintings. Florian asked the municipal carpenter to build the frames, they’re beautiful. As we are arranging the paintings, we catch up on important matters. Florian’s two sons are now married. They are both engineers living in one of the larger cities. Their daughter is 14 and like many young teenagers, spends a lot of time in front of the mirror. His wife, a multi-talented artist herself, is now writing. Florian has painted some fascinating murals since The Dairy Center mural.

The Ramon Cano Gallery was the first municipal gallery in the state. It opened July 1972. The first show included art from, Frieda Kahlo, Jose Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, Ramon Cano, and Lucio Tenorio. The show ran for a year. Our Boulder artists are hanging on the walls of greats.

By Rich Lopez
Visit his blog on The Daily Camera

La CometaFebruary 11, 2010: Travel is demanding. It looks like the “art show” will fit in our bags. The kites are another matter. Now to add some background music, Peter Kater (former Boulderite) and Cirque de Soleil (international), should do the trick.Pajaro del Cielo

Traveling through security with a long bag of kites proved to be daunting, but not impossible. At first the TSA officials couldn’t decide if the bag of kites could be carried onto the plane. Finally, they said give it a try. It worked.

Houston: a couple of hours later we sat down with a couple of team members from Fort Collins. Cozane is a surgical nurse coming to Mante for the second time. I asked her why she pays for her ticket to come to Mante and work really hard for a week. “ It’s the people who amaze me. They wait quietly for hours to see a surgeon, then go through a surgical procedure and sometimes walk out of the hospital a few hours later and go home. They never complain.” David is a pharmacist who works for a commercial drug store. His response was similar. “I know these people are nervous and I speak Spanish to them and try to calm their fears. ”

Everyone is excited anticipating the start of the medical mission. The Advance Team has unpacked boxes and boxes of supplies. Friday, they will finish setting up the Clinic and Operating Rooms. Jeannie and I will set up an Art Show and hang a couple of kites. We’re excited too.

The Mission starts today

By Rich Lopez
Visit his blog on The Daily Camera


February 10, 2010: The Boulder Community Hospital Mante Medical Mission starts today. The first teams flies to Tampico Mexico this morning. We fly in mulitple groups because the Tampico airport cannot accomodate large jets. This transit bottleneck is a minor challenge, but means some team members will spend a few extra hours getting to know the George Bush International Airport. Once we arrive in Tampico, we gather our bags and go through customs. Then it’s time for a bus ride to Mante. Typically, we arrive late in the evening at the town square. There we meet our host families who will house and feed us for the next week. This is where the friendships are established or rekindled. Some of us will stay at one of two hotels, the Monterey or Hotel Mante.

The Mante mural symbolizes the relationships between Boulder. The flags and eagles of both countries provide the backdrop to the natural symbols of each city; Boulder’s Flatirons and Mante’s Nacimiento (a cave where the Mante River is born). The sun and the moon represent the permanence of the relationship. What is special is that transformation of the “stars” on the American flag into “peace doves” traveling to Mante. The doves represent the members of the medical team who travel to Mante to heal and treat their citizens. Check it out on the North wall of The Dairy Center. Makes you tingle.

The medical supplies have either been brought by truck in January or have been in storage since last year’s mission. I’m a little worried because last year, I was in charge of the inventory and packing of 150 boxes from the Medical Clinic. “Rich, what happened to the 8 inch catheters?” “Yo Lopez, where are the 2 inch bandages?” Please let there be 150 boxes!

Bonnie Iris "Tarde de verano"

Bonnie Iris “Tarde de verano”

El Espiritu De Las Ciudades Hermanas

By Rich Lopez
Visit his blog on The Daily Camera

Audrie Mergelman
Audrie Mergelman
Valerie Meyers
Valerie Meyers

Picture 377 February 7, 2010: It’s a snowy Superbowl Sunday. Last year I was flying to Mante during the game and didn’t learn the final score until hours after the final gun. This year Jeannie is in her studio, mounting, framing and packing the last of the 50 paintings we will take to Mante. The show is entitled “El Espiritu De Las Ciudades Hermanas” “The Spirit of the Sister Cities.” The show hopes to depict some aspects of Boulder: it’s history, the influence of it’s geographical location and the importance of nature in the lives of it’s citizens.” Some of the artists are professionals, while others are “citizen artists” who have other careers; therapist, mathematician, architect and teacher. What they all have in common is a love of their town and a desire to paint it. Almost all the paintings are “plein air” which means painted outside, in the moment, and on location. Sunday afternoon we picked up a couple of kites from George Peters and Melanie Walker of Airworks Studio. The kites are spectacular and festive. We’ll suspend them from the ceiling of the Ramon Cano Gallery. Florian just emailed that the Art Show opening will be Lunes (Monday) and he has a surprise for us! Que Bueno.

Mante Mexico, 20th Medical Mission, 10th Sister City Anniversary, Bicentennial

By Rich Lopez
Visit his blog on The Daily Camera

The energy is starting to swell as we gear up for the Mante Mexico trip. Swell is an understatement because this trip is uniquely unique. Next month will mark the 20th anniversary of the Boulder Mante Medical Mission and the 10th anniversary of the Boulder-Mante Sister Cities relationship. If that isn’t enough, this is also Mexico’s Bicentennial.

This morning the Boulder Community Hospital Board of Directors learned that the City of Boulder has proclaimed February 12 – as Boulder Mante Week. This proclamation will be presented to the dignitaries from Mante and the state of Tamaulipas at the February 13 opening ceremony for the mission. The governor, mayor (presidente) and other dignataries are expected to attend.

A few hours later, the first Commemorative Exposition art show of Boulder area artists will open. The show will be presented in the Ramon Cano Gallery, curated by Florian Lopez. Florian is the muralist who painted the large mural on the north wall of The Dairy Center. J eannie DeMarinis, a local plein air artist, came up with the idea of bringing 50 small paintings to Mante for these milestone events. These paintings will literally be hand-carried in her luggage and that of her husband, Rich Lopez

On a personal note, Florian lived with us when he painted the The Dairy Center mural in 2001. On September 11 we watched in horror as the planes flew into the Twin Towers. We’ve maintained our friendship over the years and look forward to seeing him and his family.

Boulder Community Hospital: www.bch.org

2010: A great year to visit Mexico

Every year on September 15th Mexicans gather en masse to celebrate the anniversary of their Independence from Spain. Plazas in cities across the country fill with thousands of jubilant citizens. The celebration culminates as the municipal president (mayor) gives the grito of “Viva Mexico”, which commences Independence Day festivities.

2010 is an exceptionally important year because it will mark the bicentennial of Mexico’s Independence and centennial of its Revolution. Mexico is preparing to commemorate the occasion with an extraordinary celebration.

In addition to the Independence Day celebration, the Mexican government is preparing many projects designed to commemorate these two anniversaries. According to Explorado Mexico the projects will include: “exhibits of prehispanic, Spanish, modern and contemporary Mexican art at the most important capitals of the world, historic routes, shows, publications, seminars, the opening of 10 new archeological sites, maintenance [of] the country’s most important prehispanic sites and the remodeling of 30 museums that will serve as venues to the Independence’s Bicentennial and the Revolution’s Centennial in the year 2010.

2010 will be a great year to visit Mexico.

Read more about Mexico’s Bicentennial Celebration

Learn more about Mexican history

Source: Wikipedia, Thelmadatter
Mexican Independence Day, 2008

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: Mural Lighting Project Dedication

Mark Your Calendars: On Sept. 16 at 7:15 the Boulder-Mante Sister City committee will be hosting an event to celebrate the installation of permanent lighting of the mural on the north face of the Dairy Center for the Arts building.

Mural Lighting Project Study
Mural Lighting Project Study

Some years ago, the city government of Mante, Mexico, one of Boulder’s Sister Cities, offered to send one of its famous artists to Boulder to paint a mural. The mural, by Florian Lopez, was to be an expression of thanks to the people of Boulder for their many contributions to Mante, through an annual medical campaign and formal Sister City relationship. After consideration of alternative sites, the north face of the Dairy Center for the Arts building was chosen as the location for the mural.

From the outset, this mural was viewed as an art treasure.

Shortly after completion of the mural, the Sister City committee began discussions with City of Boulder staff about illuminating the mural. One of the benefits was to provide additional lighting for the parking area on the north side of the Dairy Center for the Arts for visitors coming to evening programs. Issues such as meeting city codes for light disbursement, anchoring fixtures to the building and cost were discussed.

The Boulder Mante Sister City committee raised $15,000 for purposes of providing lighting for the mural. Glenn Magee, of the City of Boulder, has been the lead in coordinating design and installation of the lighting itself.

The dedication date of Sept. 16 was chosen as it coincides with Mexico’s Independence Day. (From Wikipedia: The Mexican War of Independence (1810–1821) was an armed conflict between the people of Mexico and the Spanish colonial authorities which started on 16 September 1810.)

Angelique Espinosa, city council member and council liaison to the Boulder Mante Sister City committee will emcee the event. Stilt walkers from Frequent Flyers Productions, an aerial dance company that performs at the Dairy Center for the Arts, will participate at the onset of the dedication. An ensemble of dancers from Casey Middle School’s Ballet Folklorico will also perform after the lights have been turned on.

The Boulder Mante Sister City committee is appreciative of the support of David White and Richard Harris of the Dairy Center for the Arts staff for their support in arranging this dedication event.

Norris Hermsmeyer

For more information please contact us, or leave a reply below.

Mural Lighting Project Dedication and Mexican Independence Day Celebration

The Boulder-Mante Sister City Project will dedicate the Mural Lighting Project on September 16 at 7:15 p.m. in the north parking lot of the Dairy Center for Performing Arts. The Mural, which was given as a gift to the City of Boulder from the Mayor of Mante in 2001, is representative of the enduring bond between the two cities.

Boulder-Mante Mural
Boulder-Mante Mural

The dedication will coincide with Mexican Independence Day and feature Mexican cultural performances.

More information to follow…

Mante T-shirts

Lester Lurie has ordered a fresh batch of t-shirts with Florian’s mural on the back and the simple text on the upper left front saying Boulder/Mante Sister Cities. He has 25 small, 25 medium, 25 large, and 25 extra large. A donation of $20 a piece (or more of course) would be appreciated. This is the beginning of fundraising efforts for next year’s student trip to Mante.

You may contact Lester at: lester.lurie@bvsd.org