September Friday for the Arts: The Cockade City Camera Club

This month PAAL is hosting a Photographic Contest and Exhibit by the Cockade City Camera Club. Founded by John A. Rooney, Jr. in July 2009, the first meetings took place "At The Globe” in Petersburg. The Club met there for several months and then began meeting at PAAL. The Camera Club meets every month on the fourth Thursday at the art league with an estimated 28–29 people attending. The format of the meetings generally begins with announcements, a presentation, break and voting for the monthly Photo Challenge Contest, showing members’ photos at the meetings, and breaking into three classes. The classes are free and are Beginner/Novice, Intermediate, and D/SLR. The Club occasionally conducts photographic events such as tours of Old Towne Petersburg or a walk along the Petersburg section of the Appomattox River. At the end of the July meeting John Rooney retired as President and is now the Immediate Past President after completing ten years of service to the Club. John is still working hard behind the scenes. The Cockade City Camera Club heartily thanks the Petersburg Area Art League for all their support.

And in the Members Gallery…Popotillo Straw Art

Martin Gonzalez, owner of La Milpa, is an artist who produces the pre-Columbian art of popotillo. It is an art form produced with colored straw from Mexico.

Generally, art straw dates back to the Han Dynasty in China. In Mexico, however, it is believed that this type of art originated with the Aztecs, who used decorative feathers to adorn their shields, resorting to an earlier form when the birds that they used became extinct. During the mid-twentieth century Popotillo art became very popular in Mexico, and today you can find workshops that offer instruction and sales in several places in the Western world.

Popotillo artisans build a mosaic from millet straw color individually pressing down on a special form of beeswax known as Cera de Campeche, that has been applied to a board of some sort. During the creation of the artwork, the temperature of the wax must remain between 143 and 149 degrees Fahrenheit, to ensure that the board is easily covered. The technique used to dye the straw used in Popotillo is unique. The straw, which has been collected from the plains, should be given an acid bath after having been cleaned, in order to improve the quality and vitality of the color and dye once applied. Popoteros, or artisans, dye a great amount of straw for their project using vegetables or aniline dyes.