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My Mexican Adventure
Opening, Friday, April 22

by Beverly Sky

I came very reluctantly to Mexico, in 2005, after the death of both of my parents. As the taxi drove down the cobblestone hill into San Miguel de Allende, I was stunned. The sunset glowed on the distant lake and on the ochre and red painted buildings. An old man with a donkey loaded with wooden branches walked by the side of the road while church bells rang throughout the town. Wow, I thought, sixteenth century Italy! It was love at first sight.

Two weeks later, after bumping into old friends from Boston, which is not unusual in February, we took a trip to Pozos (as it is affectionately called) to visit the artist colony that thrived here and to tour this former ghost town. This Pueblo Magico or Magic Village called Mineral de Pozos is located in the majestic high desert plains in the heart of the Mexican Sierra Madre Mountains, just a forty-five minute drive northeast of SMA.

We walked through town and admired the work of several resident artists and craftspeople selling pre-Hispanic musical instruments all made from the local plants, animals and rocks.

The surrounding desert was dotted with cacti, magueys, mesquite trees and hundreds of old stone ruins complete with Moorish arches and a dusty Old West atmosphere. I clambered up one of the ruins, formerly the arts and crafts school of the region, called the Escuela Modelo. It was overgrown with cacti and pepper trees growing in the former classrooms. As I looked over the landscape to the surrounding mountains, to my amazement, over my head a huge eagle circled. I had never seen an eagle before. A sign from the gods. I thought to myself, I could live here.

A few margaritas later, at the local boutique hotel, I was offered a house tour by a local real estate broker. One of the houses on the tour was located across the dirt road from the Escuela Modelo. It was the home and studio of an Australian sculptor who had restored an old ruin, incorporating hundred-year-old walls, windows and an inner courtyard. I asked how much. Remember, I came reluctantly to Mexico, but as it was the exact small sum that I had inherited from my parents, I said, "I'll take it." Two weeks in Mexico and I was a homeowner in a ghost town. I could sense my Polish parents, turning over in their graves.

The following year, I came back to see my adobe house. Adobe houses are alive. Made of thick, large, dried earthen bricks, they are meant to be lived in, moved through, loved. My Casa del Cielo, after being uninhabited for ten months, had returned to its natural cave like state, filled with spider webs, spiders, scorpions, mice, flies and mold. I didn't know where the water came from and not a clue where the sewage went. My limited, ninth-grade level Spanish vocabulary did not include the words "tearful" or "remorseful.""

I stood out on the barren street crying to myself when along came a sturdy, handsome Mexican man, Luis Cruz, who asked me in perfect English
"What's wrong lady, why are you crying?"
I explained my predicament. He looked around, came into the house and pronounced, "Oh, this is nothing. We can clean this up right away."
My suspicious response was "I heard that Mexicans can move into your home and change the locks and claim your home for themselves."
He laughed and said, "Let's go to my lawyer and I will sign a document saying, 'I, Luis Cruz, will not steal Beverly's house.'"

That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Luis became my mentor and gateway into pre-Hispanic and current Mexican culture. He was an entrepreneur, musician, craftsman, shaman, teacher and devoted supporter of his extended family. He was a blessing to me as an artist and human being.

One day, I happened to mention to Luis that I had purchased my house because of the eagle that flew over my head the previous year. "A sign from the gods," I said. Luis started to laugh and said, "That was my eagle. I rescued him because he was blind in one eye. I let him out of his cage once a day to exercise his wings. You bought your house because of my stupid eagle."

Sadly, sixteen years later, in February of 2021, Luis was killed in an automobile accident. His legacy at Venado Azul on Calle Centenario is continuing and being honored by his family and co-craftsmen.

Living in a house that formerly had belonged to either the principal of the Escuela Modelo or a bordello or perhaps both simultaneously, meant living with ghosts. Pozos was a ghost town after all. The mines were death traps. Five stories underground, many miners (including children) stayed down there for days because coming up was so arduous. I would regularly burn copal incense as I walked through the house hoping to assuage the fantasmas that flitted by the corners of my sight. Ghosts became my friends and found their way into my work too.

In 2006, I was awarded the Francis J. Kinnicutt Grant from the Worcester Museum of Art in Worcester, Massachusetts. I used it as an artist travel grant to research papermaking techniques and imagery in central Mexico. I was interested in indigenous papermaking and the shamanistic uses of paper, particularly the Otomi Indian practice of cutting paper effigies of their many deities, used in sacred ceremonies. For the Otomi, everything has a spirit or Diety guiding its way.

A small compilation of my fiber art works including handmade paper, pulp painting and fabric collage will be exhibited in an upcoming show called Terrain | Terreno at Galeria Blue Moon. I "paint" with fabric. This work represents my journey from the USA to Pozos. It reflects some of my interests in landscape, mapping, Otomi gods, and, of course, skulls symbolizing the cycle of life and death depicted by the phrase "la vida sigue", meaning life goes on, here in Mexico.

In addition to being a member of Galeria Blue Moon, I am represented by Galeria Moyshen at La Fabrica Aurora.

www.beverlysky.com

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We hope you will join us to celebrate our featured artist, Elvia Samaniego as well as the five artists in this newly formed cooperative gallery exhibition, with our interpretations of the magical landscape we find ourselves in here in the high desert plains of Mexico.

Terrain | Terreno - opening
Earth Day, Friday, April 22, 5-8pm
Galeria Blue Moon, Calzada de la Estacion 151
(Lavinia's, across from and a ways beyond the bus station)
Contact Galeria Blue Moon, Andrew Klein: painter.klein@gmail.com

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Beverly Sky, in addition to her illustrious career in the arts, is also a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique, a Certified Reiki Master and a volunteer at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

events @ sanmiguelevents.com

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