August 6, 2008
My grandfather made ladies shoes. He didn't physically make them himself, he would cross the border and buy good ladies shoes in Laredo and then have a network of local leather men and cobblers make meticulous copies which he would then label with his Rudy brand (He was also a loan shark on the side). Everyone said his shoes were better than the originals. The leather was better, they lasted longer, etcetera. So some days he would drive around Monterrey and meet with men who tanned leather, cut leather, or dyed leather or who stitched shoes, or fitted soles, or manufactured shoe boxes. Some days he would drive around to the various shoe stores in the surrounding villages making deals for his shoes, and some days he would collect money or collateral from the people who owed him. I used to love to make the rounds with him always up front in those big wide seats of his 70's era Cadillacs or his stylish Ford Elite listening to Pedro Infante on the radio. We covered hundreds of miles on our summers together crisscrossing Monterrey and 50 miles in every direction. My memory of that time is dreamlike. This was pre-Nafta Mexico in the 70's before everything started to look like everything else and many of the things I saw burned into the brain forming the foundation of my visual memory palace. I mention this, because Graciela Iturbide's images remind me of my memories and recalling people and places I saw on street corners and in markets maybe for a few seconds but who were unforgettable. There is not one good site showcasing the range of Iturbide's work, but you can find some of images here and here. If you are really interested, her books are a better bet.