ARTisSpectrum Vol.30, November 2013 - page 126-127

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ARTisSpectrum | Volume 30 | artisspectrum.com
ARTisSpectrum | Volume 30 | artisspectrum.com
127
Quito, Ecuador
by Cristóbal González Guzmán
The city of Quito, capital of Ecuador, is a beautiful place hidden amid the snow-capped Andean peaks. Its artistic history
goes back to pre-Columbian times, and became particularly important during the Colonial years with what has become
known as the Escuela Quiteña, or Quito School of Art. The art of the Quito school is essentially “Baroque,” and is seen not
only in works of art, but the churches themselves, where much of the art is to be found.
Today Quito is a Latin American capital where two worlds get together. The visual arts are of extreme importance for our
cosmopolitan vision. Juan Rodríguez Street, within the La Mariscal, a bohemian quarter, has a special flavor. Until the end
of the 20th century it was the street were the Galería, the most important artistic space of the country, had its doors open
for more than 20 years. In 1990 I was honored to exhibit here, and in 1994 I founded the González Guzmán Gallery on the
same street. This is the same place where the famous painter Eduardo Arroyo, had his studio. Eduardo Arroyo as well as
other well known contemporary Ecuadorian artists, is a brilliant representation of our art’s history.
In 1978 Quito was the first capital of the world to be declared Cultural Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO. Quito earned
its title of “Cultural Capital for Humanity” because of its constant promotion of the arts in all forms and venues. Full of
Baroque churches in the old Colonial City, modern, northern Quito has many museums and art galleries. Among them,
the iconic Museo Guayasmin is a must see. The Catholic University also has a very dynamic agenda, while the Iliana Vitery
gallery is the only Orthodox Commercial gallery where international and local artists exhibit their work. There are other
government controlled galleries as well. I would say that Quito is itself a magnificent work of art.
The picture shows Eduardo Arroyo, Cristóbal González Guzmán, Enrique Vascones and Mauricio Cobo. All of them are part
of a generation placed between two centuries.
San Miguel De Allende, Mexico
by Steven Cary
San Miguel de Allende is the most vibrant and widely known art town in Mexico. It is a small colonial city in the geographic
center of Mexico in the state of Guanajuato. Its well-preserved 17th and 18th Century buildings earned it the UNESCO des-
ignation as a World Heritage of Humanity site. It is one of the prettiest and most visually stimulating towns in Mexico with
a temperate, high-desert climate that provides over 300 days of sunshine a year. With a population of somewhat more than
100,000 people, it maintains a slow pace and strangers still say buenos dias to each other on the streets. On the other hand, it
is a surprisingly festive, cosmopolitan city and a tourist center for foreigners and Mexicans alike. San Miguel has long been a
haven for expats from the U.S., Canada and Europe with a permanent foreign population of several thousand people.
Today, an evolving mixture of artistic expression arises out of a unique artistic community comprised of both Mexican and
foreign artists. They are producing works in traditional Mexican and European styles as well as vibrant contemporary styles,
both representational and abstract. Within the arts community are numerous artists and gallery owners who have relocated
here from Mexico City, New York City and various other major art centers of the world.
Both foreign and Mexican artists began congregating in San Miguel in the 1940s when the city still had a population of fewer
than 20,000 people and no automobiles. Artists were drawn here because of the city’s natural beauty and the low cost and
ease of living. An enterprising young American named Sterling Dickenson was instrumental in launching and promoting a vi-
sual arts and language school called La Escuela de Bellas Artes where muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros taught for a time. Follow-
ing World War II many veterans learned that they could use the G.I. Bill to take art classes at the Bellas Artes and the Instituto
Allende, which opened in 1951, and live here comfortably on their G.I. Bill money. The foreign population continued to grow.
Today, many classes and workshops are offered by members of the large artist community, and San Miguel has over 50 art
galleries. On the edge of town sits the La Fabrica La Aurora, which was a textile mill during most of the 20th Century but was
converted to an arts and design center in 2005. It houses over 40 working artist studios and art galleries as well as antique
stores and design stores.
The city is filled year round with cultural celebrations that range from El Día de Los Muertos to Semana Santa and El Día de la
Independencia to the annual Chamber Music Festival, the Guanajuato International Film Festival, and the San Miguel Writers’
Conference. A recent New York Times travel article called San Miguel a “famous Mexican mountain city of snaking cobblestone
streets and colonial buildings in delectable fruit-bowl-meets-spice-rack colors (think mango and avocado next to paprika and
turmeric).”
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