Sunday, March 21, 2010

Curator Trip to Mexico City

From time to time, I have the good fortune to do research or attend a conference abroad. As a curator with strong interests in Mexican art, I was thrilled to travel to Mexico City, one of my favorites places in the world and in my opinion, the best city for art viewing. While many of my colleagues might pick Paris or Rome, I would jump on a plane any day of the week to see the diversity of art found in Mexico’s capital.
My recent trip to Mexico City was my sixth, but it was my first time to stay in the historic center. It was amazing to wake up to the sound of the Cathedral’s bells, and to fall asleep to the light sound of drumming from the central plaza.
Walking through the streets of Mexico City, history and art unfold seamlessly. Within a few quick blocks in the heart of the historic center, one can experience the ancient art of the Mexica Empire, colonial architecture, murals created by Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco, and the most recent work of José Luis Cuevas. At the nearby Colegio de San Ildefonso, one can experience murals by the Frenchman Jean Charlot, an artist included in The San Diego Museum of Art’s collection.
For the Museum, I met with a curator at the Museo Nacional de Arte (MUNAL) and discussed some upcoming collaborations between our museums. I also visited the Blaisten Collection, located in the Tlatelolco area of Mexico City. Tlatelolco is another area of Mexico City in which one sees art from different centuries in rapid succession; ancient ruins, a colonial church, and a mural by Siqueiros are neighbors. It is also an area of Mexico City where residents witnessed the horrific violence that broke out in 1968 between student protesters and the police. A memorial in the Plaza de Tres Culturas honors those who lost their lives. The Blaisten Collection includes works by well-known Mexican artists María Izquierdo, Agustín Lazo, and Carlos Orozco Romero. 
Perhaps the most exceptional part of my trip to Mexico City was the afternoon I spent with Brigita Anguiano, the widow of the Mexican muralist, printmaker, and painter Raúl Anguiano. The San Diego Museum of Art has several works by Anguiano in its permanent collection and plans to host a small exhibition of Anguiano’s paintings this summer. I visited their home in Coyoacán, an area of Mexico City with the house museums of both Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky. It was an incredible experience to see Anguiano’s studio and to have a private viewing of the stunning paintings in Brigita’s collection. The visit made me extremely excited about the opening of the Anguiano show at the Museum. With its ardent dedication to the visual arts, Mexico City is a dynamic place for art lovers. I'm already looking forward to my next visit.
Not to miss: Chapultepec Park, Museo Rufino Tamayo, National Palace murals, Ministry of Education murals, Colegio de San Ildefonso murals, Museo Templo Mayor, UNAM campus, Museo Franz Mayer, Coyoacán, Tlatelolco, Alameda Park, Palacio de Bellas Artes, José Luis Cuevas Museum, and a day trip to Acolman and Teotihuacan.

If you really love murals, also try: the Supreme Court Building, Polyforum Cultural Siqueiros, Museo Mural Diego Rivera, and the house museum dedicated to Siqueiros in Polanco.
The Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil and the Museo Dolores Olmedo have stunning collections of modern art as does the Andres Blaisten Collection in Tlatelolco.

A final art tip: Pick up a newspaper and check out the current exhibitions. There are so many art spaces that you can easily find new and exciting things to do. On my recent trip I went checked out the art listings and find my way to a show that honored the anniversary of certain tax freedoms for artists. The show included a stunning Rivera painting that I had never seen before and a host of strong works by contemporary artists. I caught an intriguing Betsabeé Romero show as well.
 -Amy Galpin, Project Curator for American Art

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