ARTS & CRAFTS
Oaxaca has a thriving arts scene as well as an interesting and distinctive artisanal crafts scene. Both are unique for their vibrancy and continuance as cultural forces within the city and region.
ARTS IN THE CITY
OaxacaCine is the local cinema group that is responsible for bringing seasons of films to Oaxaca. While not a continuous in its showings, OaxacaCine brings both important national and international films throughout the year.
Additionally, there are many independent showings in Oaxaca of films throughout the week, from independent Mexican to cult cinema, the city has many options for movies.
There are many, many art galleries in Oaxaca. Listed further down on this page of some of the many galleries we’d recommend, but many others are also wonderful. Oaxaca truly is a town of artists and artisans.
With varied offerings including opera, ballet and traditional musical performances in elegant Teatro Macedonio Alcalá to independent and experimental shows at La Locomotora Foro Escénico, Oaxaca offers many opportunities to experience live performances and theater in the city.
From the live varied and folkloric offerings of El Venadito Espacio Cultural founded by singer Lila Downs, to local staple, La Nueva Babel where local musicians play, to dance and salsa clubs, like Candela, which offer live salsa music on the weekends. There are also other nightclubs throughout the city, with Txalaparta, a bar with an eclectic mix of music and performances, being one of the most popular.
LOCAL ARTISANAL CRAFTS
Teotitlan de Valle is a small pueblo known for its textiles, especially tapetes or rugs, which are woven on hand-operated looms from wool obtained from local sheep and dyed mainly with local, natural dyes. You can visit the pueblo by yourself or with a tour to see how the looms work and how the yarn is dyed. The designs varied between historical Zapotec designs and contemporary themes.
The style, color, and traditions of this black pottery dates back to the Monte Albán period, though for almost all of its history, the pottery has had a matte, greyish finish. However, in the mid-20th century, a new technique was discovered to change the finish to a shiny black color. There are several workshops in the pueblo of San Bartolo Coyotepec and its surrounding area.
Santa María Atzompa has a over 1000 year-old tradition of pottery-making. The ‘‘green clay pottery’’ from Atzompa is one of the three most commonly producted types of pottery found in the state of Oaxaca. While its style can be ornate, usually this pottery is made for utilitarian use and is commonly found in many homes throughout the state.
While made famous in Coco, which cemented the place of alebrijes in the collective conscious of what Oaxaca is, alebrijes themselves have an interesting and complex history with Oaxaca. Originally made in Xochimilco (which is a part of Mexico City), and made of paper máche and wire, as they appeared in Oaxaca, they took on other forms, which Oaxacan artists translating this vision into wooden sculptures, carved into eccentric features and flaunting vibrant colors that incorporate important symbolism from various Zapotec cultures throughout the state. Arrazola, Xoxocotlán and San Martín Tilcajete are three towns near the city of Oaxaca from which this art form is both practiced and acclaimed.
While many of the surrounding towns are known for their particular artisanal crafts, the city of Oaxaca has its own in hojalata. Religious in origin, hearts are one of the most common designs, though the finely crafted tinplate decorations take on many other forms as well—including animals, skulls, figurines, etc.—and many include mirrors within the design. The neighborhood of Xochimilco in the city of Oaxaca is known as soul of this local art form.