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It takes a village….

By Mary Norquist

There is an old African saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” that could easily be applied to the community effort to stage the upcoming Players Workshop performance of Red by John Logan. His play about artist Mark Rothko was produced in London in December 2009 and on Broadway in 2010, where it received six Tony Awards, the most of any play, including best play, best direction of a play, and best featured actor in a play.

Red by John Logan
Produced by Players Workshop
Wed-Sat, Aug 6-9, 7:30 pm
Mon-Sat, Aug 11-16, 7:30pm
Sun, Aug 10 and 17, 5pm
Teatro Santa Ana
La Biblioteca
Reloj 50A
150 pesos, All Seats Reserved

Director of the Players Workshop production, Kate Rowland, has endeavored to create total authenticity in this production including set design, costuming, music and art. Rowland recruited several local artists to recreate Rothko paintings to be used in the play. “It’s not always easy to find great artists, in their own right, who are willing to ‘copy’ other great artists,” commented Rowland. However, the need for authentic-appearing Rothko pieces remained an important part in the play.

Bea Aaronson, noted author, painter and performer, was the first to agree to recreate two Rothko paintings. “It was a challenge just because of the size,” Bea said. “Trying to cover a 6’x6’ canvas with only a brush presents a certain number of challenges.” But Bea is ever up to the challenge.

Aaronson was born in Paris and studied history of art and art theory at the Sorbonne and L’Ecole du Louvre. In 1978 she went to South Africa to paint and sculpt to exorcize the socio-political demons of apartheid. Her rhythmic colors vibrate, a Brucke-Cobra mix of sensations: anger, violence and organic primeval enthusiasm.

Aaronson currently lives in San Miguel where she paints, writes, performs and produces a lecture series on various topics including great painters. Look for her upcoming lecture on Mark Rothko on Monday, August 4, at 4:30 and 6:30pm, San Jorge 45, colonia San Antonio (130 pesos).

Juan Ezcurdia, a well-known international artist living in San Miguel, was the second artist to volunteer to paint a “Rothko.” Ezcurdia’s work is widely recognized and collected. When asked to paint a “Rothko knockoff,” Ezcurdia said, “Why not?”

Ezcurdia is a self-taught Mexican artist who had his first public showing at the Galeria Izamal in San Miguel in 1997. The show sold out completely. His paintings show magical striped cows, lion ladies, dogs and cats, rainbow men and other fantasy creatures floating, dancing and simply being.

In 1997 Ezcurdia won first prize in the prestigious national competition of the Consejo Nacional de la Cultura y las Artes.

The third painter, Kathleen Cammarata, just finished her contribution to the “Rothko paintings.” Cammarata said that she “saw the Rothko work at the Tate Modern and seeing the Rothko chapel is on my bucket list. I also read a book called Pictures and Tears by James Elkins which I used to recommend to my museum students. It is an investigation into what paintings make people cry and why. The Rothko Chapel came in first ahead of Guernica!”

Cammarata lives and works in San Miguel and has been painting for 30 years. She has taught in two museums and at the University of Lowell. She has had over 25 solo exhibitions and has won numerous prizes and grants. She has a serious drawing practice that can be seen in her studio on Alameda #6 in colonia San Antonio.

Rowland concluded, “We couldn’t do this production without all the help we’ve had from these wonderful, talented local artists who, by their participation, contribute so much!”


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