A new mosaic mural is in place on the south-facing wall of the entrance to the CÃ©sar BraÃ±as Cultural Center and Art School in La Antigua Guatemala. Itâ€™s called Mosaico de Amistad by the 14 artists from Argentina and the United States who participated in the project. All are members of a web-based group known as PasiÃ³n por los Mosaicos. Mariel Trill Guillot, one of the artists, is also its founder and moderator. The group has 228 members who share a common goal: to spread its passion for the colorful small pieces of mosaic material (tesserae). To achieve its mission, PasiÃ³n por los Mosaicos ventures beyond on-line borders and into the arena of real-time public art. Shelley Rozell, a member artist from the state of Washington, has been instrumental in the process. She negotiated for the wall with local officials, coordinated and supervised its installation. Her fundraising efforts also have made the artwork possible.
The mural consists of 22 squares. Each measures 30 by 30 centimeters, and their arrangement into five rows creates a triangle shape. Thirteen of the squares were shipped from Argentina to Guatemala. The rest were hand-carried from the United States. The squares are made of classic mosaic material: ceramic, glass, smalti (hand-cut opaque glass), china, shells and pebbles. Some of the squares are abstract in design, but most allude to life in Guatemala. The countryâ€™s national bird and flower, the Quetzal and Monja Blanca, have their square. There are also references to holidays and fiestas (kites, balls, candy) and major exports such as coffee and textiles. The volcano, church bells and an owl are representative of La Antigua Guatemala.
Mosaico de Amistad is a gift of friendship, and one of the squares illustrates the gesture by bringing together the colors and symbols of the flags of Argentina and Guatemala.
M. A. Bello, Director
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The colorful faÃ§ades throughout La Antigua Guatemala are like
canvases left outdoors. Nature destroys them, and time transforms
the surfaces into abstract and impressionistic formations. Old walls
become short-lived works of art. Color and texture from the past
create a sort of present-day graffiti until repairs and a fresh coat of
paint wipe away the shapes and patterns. It is an ever-changing
public display of peeling paint and crumbling adobe. The
compositions are visually articulate and as much part of the cityscape
as the monuments and ruins.
This unique genre is the subject of Huellas/Imprints. The
photographs reinterpret the creative force of time and nature
as painterly and contemporary images.
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Nancy Clement lives and works in La Antigua Guatemala, where she is well known for her watercolor miniatures.Â She has, over time, meticulously documented the architecture, gardens, and landscape of the Colonial City on paper the size of an average postcard.Â With their extraordinary and minute details, these small treasures attract and charm both local residents and visitors from around the world.
Ms. Clement is basically an observer, and as she wanders daily through the city, its flowers beckon to her.Â She explains: â€œI talk to all the neighbors and their gardeners.Â I inquire about the names of flowers in Spanish, and I ask them for permission to draw in the gardens.Â There is both a friendliness and formality about this interchange.â€Â The ten miniatures in the exhibition reflect some of this give-and-take during local jaunts.
Technically, Ms. Clement is not a botanical artist.Â She considers herself simply a decent illustrator, an observer who records nature with precision and detail.Â As a watercolorist, however, she is in full control of her craft, and her style is very distinctive.Â She is interested in visual delicacy and strength over scientific accuracy, and as a result, her miniatures are primarily decorative.Â It is for this very reason that her work is so highly collectible.
Ms. Clement works outdoors.Â She rarely paints cut flowers or photographs her subjects.Â A flower, she points out, â€œbecomes a landscape of ridges and valleys, contours and colors.â€Â It is, for her, an intimate scenery which she admires with a passion.Â â€œFlowers,â€ she says, â€œare natureâ€™s most open and accessible messenger.â€
Her materials are light, portable, and simple.Â She requires only a container of water and some brushes in order to capture the most complex, delicate, and dramatic impressions of nature.Â The muse mini or notchy postcards have a deckle edge, and she believes their size is perfect for duplicating the intensity of colorful lush vegetation.Â Ms. Clement draws with a Castell HB pencil and a kneaded eraser in hand, and she paints with a #2 round red sable brush.Â She prefers tubes of Winsor & Newton and Grumbacher watercolors which she mixes on the lid of the box.Â Occasionally, she goes over the pencil drawings with a crow quill pen dipped in Higgins India ink.
Ms. Clementâ€™s neighbors and their gardeners are familiar enough with the great emotion in her work.Â However, her many fans abroad are more likely to appreciate first the precision and clarity of her miniature watercolors.Â For the artist, ultimately, her flowers are a record of the simple pleasures of life.Â She notes: â€œAfter a painting is finished, I can look at it, and I can feel again the sun on my head and hear the humming of the insects.â€
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