Build it and they will come…Or so the expression goes. Four
hours north of Mexico City in the hills above the river valley an art school
was established at the Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramirez El Nigromante. That’s
quite a mouthful but it is affectionately known as Bellas Artes. Today it is
part of the San Miguel Mexican national art institute and offers classes in
painting, drawing, sculpture, music dance and languages. Surrounding a lush
garden boasting orange trees it also incorporates a courtyard café, souvenir
shop, two art galleries and an incomplete mural by David Alfaro Siqueiros.
It’s a place to gather when lectures or concerts are offered or a place to
learn. It is one of the reasons that so many people flock to San Miguel
|Local and expatriate artists show their works in
the Parque Benito Juarez very close to the one time sprawling home
of Maximillian the European ruler of Mexico sent by Napoleon 111 of
Close by there is often a weekend of
arts and crafts sales and connected to the food market is the long
narrow pedestrian walkway through the stalls of local craftsmen
offering ceramics , souvenirs, silver and folk art. The crafts are a
delight, especially the silver and work with stones. The mundane and
the surprising treasures were almost irresistible.
Courtyard of Bellas Artes
A few of the artists in the park caught my eye. The first
were the Mendelshons, father and son Noah (Americans). Also worth looking
for is Mark Vranesh who’s water colors were superb. Add the spectacular cat
paintings of Mexican painter A Mendoza, see below…I couldn’t resist.
At a special crafts show I saw ornate trays, silver jewel
boxes, hand knitted children’s clothing, mosaics, necklaces and paintings.
Prices are much lower than in North America.
|One night we went to a vernisage for a
photographer who displayed his work showing many of the crafts
people in their studio. Even the weekly newspaper, “Informacion”,
listed art sales, shows and open houses.
Luckily for us, we would go into town along Adama
Street. It was there that we visited the home and studio of an
exceptionally talented lady by the name of Terry Ann Tomlinson,
originally from New York State. Not only is her paper craft very
unique but her home is a special space and she is a welcoming
Hers is an attempt to capture the spiritual reality that
unites all forms of life. Her work is done in a modern light filled setting.
You know you are in a different space when you enter her garden patio with a
waterfall backed by a fireplace…hot and cold. It is through a very
nondescript door that one enters this enormous, modern structure filled with
art including sculptures and paper worked as I’ve never seen it done before.
Facing you is a round kitchen counter built to nourish the
body as art nourishes the soul. And there in her self-designed space is
Terry Ann herself ready to greet you and discuss her work
Her paper visions are unique, possibly because her
background as a chemist affords an understanding of chemicals that can be
mixed with the self made paper.
“When working with paper”, she said, “I am connected with
nature in a direct way.”
Papyrus as bamboo
Entry pond and greenery
Living room & fireplace
If you are lucky enough to be in San Miguel, you must
visit her home on Adama at No. 29. It was deigned, I am told with the aid
of Alan Wilkenson. It is exciting to know that such a space exists behind a
typical Colonial façade.
You can learn more about her at
There are days when she has an open house. While you are
examining her work or learning about her aims, take time to walk around the
house. It’s a wonderful use of space with a heavy leaning towards nature.
Not far from San Miguel by car or bus is the city of
Guanajuato. Here too there is a legacy of painting as well as literature.
This city holds dearly the work of Cervantes and his epic
novel Don Quixote. The performance of Cervantes comic plays, known as
Cervantinos became the seed for the most important cultural event of Latin
America started in 1772. There is a Quixote Museum and exhibition with
pictures of the main character by many famous artists including Dali, Jose
Luis Cuevas and a scene by Picasso.
Quixote, Sancho Panza, Rosinante and Dulcinea
|Inaugurated in 1987, it houses a collection of
paintings, drawings, tapestries, coins, sculpture and porcelain. I
couldn’t resist the papier mache sculptures of Don Quixote and
It’s a wonderful look at the
character, the artist and the reverence in Mexico of his work. More
information is on
Guanajuato, founded in 1570, is rightfully called
“The Jewel of the Americas”. SINCE 1988 it has become a World
heritage Site by UNESCO. At one time it was the capital of Mexico.
Here too you will find the Diego Rivera Museum House
located in a large 18th century neo classical home. This was Rivera’s
birthplace and his crib and the family’s furniture is on display. So too are
paintings from different stages of the artist’s career including his years
in Paris. There is a replica of one of his murals as well as a self portrait
that is particularly moving. I also enjoyed the picture done in France by a
lady he was involved with for a while named Morevna Vorobiev. (See my book
“Double Deception” where she is one of the main characters).
I agree with the art critic who wrote, in 1932, “To see
the paintings of Diego Rivera, is to see Mexico. Of course his bold murals
can best be seen in Mexico City at the university. They celebrate the life
and customs of common Mexican people.
Art is a major theme in this corner of Mexico. It might
take a few visits to see it all and with new art created daily you can
satisfy that need over and over again,
For more information see
You can Contact Professor Arnie Greenberg at:
Over the past few years, Professor
Greenberg has traveled with groups to France, Italy, Spain, Greece,
Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and both Sorrento and the Bay of
Naples plus most of Sicily. His tours traveled to the far reaches of the
globe including Italy and most of
China (Beijing -Hong Kong) and to Russia where his group cruised the waters
from St.Petersburg to Moscow.
"He took a group to Greece and another to northern
Russia. In Nov 07 he took a tour group to much of India and ended his tour
groups by revisiting France. He now travels with his wife and friends. They
winter in Argentina or San Miguel Mexico. His newly found spare time
is taken up with his painting and writing. "I must write every day." His
current work is a cautionary manual for would-be tour leaders.. "So
You Want To Be A Tour Leader."
Arnie now travels with friends. He continues writing
Travel articles about unusual places but often concentrates on novel
writing. Two books based on French Art will be published this year.
Keep reading his web for travel ideas. His next
novel HELLSTORM'S Folly,
will be available this fall. He now
lives in British Columbia.
www.top-travel-ideas.com or contact him directly at
(More about the writer.)