Having an art gallery just down the street is pretty cool. They always have something going on and last weekend was no exception.
“Come join us,” wrote Rosy Zepeda, one of the founders of the Center for the Study and Promotion of Non-Figurative Art (CIANF) located in the Pinar de la Venta subdivision west of Guadalajara. “We are having one of Jalisco’s most famous and venerable artists over for a meal and a ceremony.”
When Susy and I walked in, we found a little girl and her grandfather posing for photos in front of a framed drawing. At that moment, along came José “Pepe” Olivares, the director of the art gallery, who filled us in.
“The little girl is Alessa Navarro and she is one of a group of children taking art classes here on Sunday mornings,” he told us. “Her grandfather is Héctor Navarro, one of Mexico’s great artists.”
Olivares went on to say that the maestro recently lent the gallery one of his paintings. “I put it up in front of the children I’m teaching and told them to draw anything they wanted to, inspired by the painting. What little Alessa did really amazed me and we asked her if she would like to present her work of art to her grandpa. She agreed, and that’s what has brought all these people here today.”
I asked Navarro for a comment on his granddaughter’s drawing. “To tell you the truth, I think she improved what I did,” he said gracefully.
Navarro family members came to CIANF not only for the presentation of Alessa’s drawing, but also to celebrate the publication of an extraordinary book documenting the career and works of Héctor Navarro.
This high-quality coffee-table art book, “Héctor Navarro: Forma, Color, Textura, Emociones,” has about 350 pages and includes an English translation by my friend Carol Wheeler, who spent a year doing the job.
When I asked about the publisher of the book, I was told that this was a limited edition for family members and – at the moment, at least – not for sale to the public. I should mention that paging through this book is a pure delight and I can’t imagine how the quality could be surpassed.
During the ceremony presenting this book and Alessa’s drawing, Olivares reviewed the life of Héctor Navarro.
We learned that the artist, who is an architect, painter and sculptor, was born in 1937. His work has not only been exhibited in Mexico’s most famous art museums, but also France, Spain, the United States and many other countries. He was one of the first enrollees at the University of Guadalajara Escuela de Artes Plásticos, where he met – and was influenced by – Jorge Martínez, another of Jalisco’s artistic greats.
If you already know something about Martínez you won’t be surprised when Navarro says, “In my work there are many things, for example, cardboard, string, marmoline, popsicle sticks and broken glass. I am an inventor of materials and my work is always changing. I don’t repeat things over and over because I try to make progress as an artist, always adding more richness to my work.”
CIANF continues to offer art workshops for children every Sunday. Olivares said they hold a watercolor workshop on Thursdays and drawing and oil painting workshops on Mondays. Olivares added that every Wednesday the center offers a workshop on gobelinos, the famous tapestries known as gobelins in French.
“We have an Austrian expert on gobelins teaching this course and it is an honor for us to have her here,” he said. “This workshop has already borne fruit in the form of several exhibits. One was held recently in Ajijic; one took place at the Galería Espacio Azul in Guadalajara; one was held here in Pinar de la Venta, and yet another is presently on exhibit in the town of Etzatlán.”
If you want to visit the latest exhibit at the CIANF Art Gallery, call in advance to let them know you are coming (333-616-6242, cell). You can also contact them through their CIANF Facebook page.
How to get there
Take Avenida Vallarta west. Eight kilometers past the Periférico you will see a sign for Pinar de la Venta. Make a u-turn and go into the main entrance of this community, a big square arch. Immediately turn right onto Paseo de las Primaveras and drive about 400 meters to house number 98. In front of the gate you will see a telephone pole clearly marked with a big red 9. Pole nine is an important landmark because house numbers in Pinar are hopelessly jumbled. Driving time from the Periférico: about 15 minutes.