Going To The Rescue Of Oaxaca's Past...In Order To Beautify Its Future

Rodolfo Morales shuffles slowly but proudly through a 16th century Franciscan monastery in the southern Oaxacan town of Ocotlan. Four restoration experts perch atop scaffolding, retouching delicate frescoes. Other artisans are using a mixture of clay, limestone powder, and the sticky juice of nopal cactus to paint a natural sheen on the stone walls. Morales, 71 and one of Mexico's best-loved painters, is spearheading an effort to rescue the crumbling buildings and turn them into a museum and concert hall. "I don't know if any of my paintings will be around a century from now, but this monastery will be," he vows.

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