Art News in Merida – November 2008
There’s a lot going on these days in the Merida Art World… the crawling baby art scene is quickly becoming a toddler, walking now and sometimes falling down, but full of life and energy. Here’s a snapshot of what’s new in the Merida Art World as the winter season begins…
La Ruptura - Late 20th Century Cuban Art at Galería Tataya
In the late 70′s and early 80′s, after the Mariel Boatlift and subsequent closing down of the borders of Cuba, the art community gathered strength from an increased emphasis on education, and due to the isolation, developed a strong sense of identity which has come to define Cuban Art. Here in Merida, we are fortunate to be somewhat close geographically to that mysterious and culturally rich island. And we are also fortunate to have the visionary owners of the Galería Tataya, who have put in time and hard work (and money) to bring us their current exhibition of Cuban Art.
The exhibit is called La Ruptura (the Break), and features the work of a group of mid-career Cuban artists. This work has been gathered painstakingly and with great care by the owners, and we are the lucky recipients of their efforts.
There are works from at least four major artists, and a few minor ones. Works range from small $900 pesos original paintings that would make exquisite gifts, to large framed multi-thousand peso works that would serve well as the focus of a large room. The artists include Carlos del Toro, a teacher and artist of great reknown who has participated in more than 300 group exhibitions around the world, won awards in Cuba and abroad and whose art is collected both in museums and private collections. The works on display include pen and ink drawings, oil and acrylic paintings and lithographs. Our favorite resembles a Japanese ink painting, but with a decidedly Latin touch. They all share a vibrancy and intensity that we have come to associate with our neighboring island. Most are exquisitely framed and ready to take their honored place in your new colonial or modern home.
Even if you can’t afford one of these reasonably priced works of original art, don’t cheat yourself of a visit to Tataya to see the exhibit. This type of curated exhibit is not often seen here in Merida, and is a treat from both an educational and inspirational point of view. As lovers of art and boosters of the local art scene, we hope that Tataya will continue its quest to present such intelligent exhibitions and that other galleries in town will join them in adding to the depth and breadth of art available for view and for sale in Merida.
The New Art Map
Yucatan Living has recently printed and is currently distributing the third iteration of Merida’s Art Map, a complete guide to the museums and galleries in Merida. This time, we are also proud to include a few artist’s studios, complete with phone numbers and invitations by the artists to call and visit. As amateur art collectors, we know that the ability to visit an artist, see a range of their work and observe them in their studio is a treat that gives an added layer of enjoyment to a work of art hanging on the wall. If you haven’t already read about some of the artists living in Merida, we encourage you to do that here in the pages of the Yucatan Living website. And then go look around and enjoy their work and the work of many others.
The map can be found in the official information booths around town, in museums, galleries, restaurants, hotels and other downtown locations. It can also be downloaded as a PDF here. We encourage any and all of you to visit the galleries, museums and studios designated on the map! And be sure to let the places you visit know that you found them through this map.
Art From the Countryside
Mark your calendars for Thursday to see something new in the art world in the Yucatan. From now until the end of the year, each Thursday from 10 am until 6 pm, a group called Circulo Verde (Green Circle) will be showing their art in Parque de La Madre (Mother’s Park) which is on the other side of the callejon (walking street) next to the Peon Contreras Theatre. The artists, who come from the towns of Molas, Dzununcán, Chablekal, Caucel, Hunucmá and Buctzotz, will be there to talk about their art and their work, as well as to sell their work. What a great gift idea for the holidays… a piece of original artwork from the Yucatan Peninsula!
Art in Support of Nature
Starting at the opening on the evening of Dec. 5, this exhibit will feature the work of 30 local artists that are inspired by Nature Herself. Works will be for sale and the proceeds will benefit Niños y Crías, a local non-profit that educates children about caring for animals and the environment. The show will stay open for two months, and will be located at the Casa de la Cultura de la Universidad Interamericana del Norte, which is located on Paseo de Montejo at Calle 45 (Check the art map for the location!).
Art and Chocolate
At the corner of Calle 60 and Calle 49, in the shadow of the Hotel Aluxes, is a new place to eat and look at art. Cafe Chocolate opened a few months ago, and they bill themselves as a cafe-gallery-antique store. According to the representative that we talked to, everything in the cafe is for sale. That includes the art on the walls, the chairs you sit in, the chandeliers, the other furniture… everything! The menu includes breakfast, lunch and dinner including homemade fresh pasta. We will confess that we haven’t eaten there yet, but we like the idea of art plus food! You can learn more about Cafe Chocolate at their website here.
Soho Comes to Merida
A new gallery called Soho Galleries is opening on Calle 60 between Calles 43 and 41, adding heft to the Santa Ana Art District of Merida Centro. Soho Galleries will feature three distinct galleries under one roof, and is named after the famous art district of New York City, the home of one of the owners, Adele Aguirre. The other owner, Nicholas Lavroff, is a photographer who lives here but hails from Australia. His digital images from Australia, the USA and Mexico will be a permanent changing installation in one of the three galleries. The second gallery will feature an ever-changing assortment of local artists, beginning with a fairly well-known local artist, Victor Argaez (if you can’t go to Circulo Verde on Thursdays (see above), you can see Victor’s work here for two months). And the third gallery will contain a rotating exhibit of the owners’ large collection of authenticated prints from the Renaissance time period to the present day.
The owners will also be offering gicleé prints of the works in the first two galleries, so that collectors can enjoy the artwork at a lower price without having to buy the original. The Soho Galleries will be the only place in town where you can view art from such a vast range of global talent. And everything in the gallery, from old to new, is for sale!
Opening: November 28 at 7:30 PM
Location: Calle 60 #400A x 43 y 41
Speaking of gifts…
It occurs to us that the dreaded Holidays are coming up, and so many of us will be looking for presents that are original, unique and not too pricey. Might we suggest a few excellent places? The new gift shop, Alma de Mexico (Calle 54 at Calle 55), has a great selection of handmade items from all over Mexico. And Galeria Tataya (Calle 72 and Calle 53) has some exquisite Mexican handmade ironwork (both decorative and functional) and pottery from other parts of Mexico as well. And don’t forget the Museo de Arte Popular’s excellent gift shop!
And then there is the BIG event on November 29 at the TTTI School on Calle 57, between Calle 56 and 58 that will only be for one day, from 10 am til 5 pm. This event will be chock full of artisans from around the state showing very unique and beautiful hand-crafted articles… everything from Mayan waterflutes made from an ancient and very mysterious design, to hanging mobiles made from wood and jicaras (a local gourd), to jewelry made from local seeds… and so much more. If you are a fan of original arts and crafts, we will drop a hint: get there early. These artisans are not known for being prolific, so there will not be an unlimited selection!
If you can’t find something different and wonderful in all these places for people on your shopping list (or for yourself…), then we are flabbergasted! tongue-tied! speechless! Except for this:
As Thanksgiving approaches, we just want to say that we are thankful that there is Art in Merida!
Editors Note: To check out the latest exhibits everywhere in Merida, go to our constantly-updated Art in Merida page. A link to this page can also always be found in the middle of the front page of Yucatan Living, under ‘Current News, Art and Events’.