Soul connections: Couples who create

By Marcia Wolff

“Love is a high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become world for himself for another’s sake.” Rainer Maria Rilke

“For one human being to love another, that is perhaps the most difficult task of all,” says Rilke. And while it depends on how we are raised, it is still our task to attend to our total development. In the poem Song of Songs, there is a repetitive line: “Swear to me that you will never awaken love until it is ripe.” This is a wise statement asking us to wait until we mature before we jump into the complexity of sharing our life with another. Of course, when we are very young, wisdom is not always important when we live in a body of hormones, a mind with beliefs from Hollywood, and a heart that is not quite grown.

However, if you meet later in life, you might be somewhat ripened for this jump into love and shared creativity. Peter Leventhal and Terra Miswa did just that. Terra saw some of Peter’s art at the Berlin when she first arrived here. “Wow, he really gets the humor in life!” she thought. Not much later, she walked into his studio, introduced herself, and announced, “Today’s my birthday!” Peter responded, “Oh! I need to take you for cake and ice cream.” From there, things proceeded.

Leventhal grew up in New York. His father wanted him to be a commercial artist, but Peter loved the figure. And even though abstract art was the thing in New York, he committed to stay with figurative art. He wandered museums, read books, and still considers himself a scholarly learner. As a self-taught artist, Leventhal paints large, colorful, and meaningful scenes of people living life. He also sculpts the figure in wood. While his creative journey has sometimes been challenging, he maintains his integrity to what purposefully guides him from within.

Miswa left Minnesota in her late teens and headed for California. She studied the healing arts. When she came to San Miguel de Allende to study Spanish, she found another home in Mexico. When she and Peter joined together, she saw that they were each other’s teachers. He expanded her world into sculpture and painting. She expanded his world into the care of the mind, body, and soul. Her small sculptures are figurative images, often including the spirit of an animal. While Leventhal taught her about layering color, her paintings are totally her own style. She incorporates her knowledge of anatomy in both mediums.

Not connected at the hip, the couple can paint for hours in silence in the same space. A dance together around the studio gives them a break with Leventhal always in awe of Miswa’s energy. While they have different intentions in their craft, they share a similar appreciation when they wander through museums. The issue of competition, which has been a concern for people working in the same field, is not an issue for them. They work cooperatively; they are ripening.

Ripening also happens with two different independent spirits. William Martin and Rae Miller came together through a friend in 2007. Both had a deep affinity for each other and love talking about art.

Martin and Miller grew up in the same area of California, but their lives diverged. Martin, who has been painting for 40 years, lived and exhibited his art in Aspen, Colorado. As the art world flattened after Septemer 11, his sister in Querétaro pointed him in the direction of San Miguel. Born in Mexico City to a Mexican mother and American father, he opened his studio/gallery at the Fabrica La Aurora.

While Miller worked 80-hour weeks in real estate during the .com boom, she continued her lifelong love of painting as a means to maintaining balance in her life. Eventually she had to leave behind the life she knew, as it had taken a physical toll. She came to San Miguel, took a leap of faith and opened a studio/gallery at the Fábrica La Aurora.

Martin’s art is realistic in style and Miller works abstractly in encaustic wax. Both Miller and Martin love to teach their craft. Recently Miller traveled to Provincetown to offer classes in the wax method. Martin’s classes, offered at least three days a week, often conclude in a student show.

What they also love to share as a couple is creativity in the kitchen. Driving trips to Colorado give each other undivided attention and time for on-the-road plein air painting. Merging two lifestyles can be challenging, but it is also this tension that can be the cauldron for ripening. While they love to hear each other’s point of view, each has their own intention and independence of expression. A lover of music, Martin plays the harmonica while also learning the guitar. He is writing two books, a novel in the horror genre and Everything I Know about Painting. Miller is writing a memoir.

Marcia Wolff, M.A. is the author of Frictions Becoming Pearl: a Slow Awakening. She offers classes in writing and collage. For information write


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