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Galería Izamal Celebrates Its 23rd Birthday!

By Henry Vermillion

In the summer of 1992, six local painters got together for coffee and commiserated about their common problems: in those distant days, there were only three art galleries in town, and their pictures weren’t selling fast enough, and two of the galleries had just decided that they wanted exclusive rights to sell an artist’s work. Unfair! Fists pounded the table. Strong words were spoken. They don’t pay us when they sell! They hide our work in their bodegas! What to do?

Galería Izamal Celebrates Its 23rd Birthday
Sat, Nov 21, 6-9 pm
Galería Izamal
Mesones 80

After a silence, one of us pointed to a sign on the door of a vacant space adjoining the patio where we were seated: “Se renta local.” “Let’s do it,” he said. “We can start our own gallery!” And, in November of 1992, Galeria Izamal opened its doors to the public. The founding artists of the gallery were Manuel Lizarraga, his wife, Rocio Hoffman, Julián Fedorak, Ed Osman, Rick Welland, Britt Zaist, and me, Henry Vermillion. Estela Macias joined us soon after, as did Juan Ezcurdia and Jesús Real. (Incidentally, Manuel Lizarraga, a native of Yucatán, suggested the name of the place. Izamal was the name of a Mayan god of artisans.)

Twenty-three years and many adventures later, Galería Izamal is one of the region’s leading contemporary art galleries. It is famed for offering fine work at extremely reasonable prices.

The gallery’s friends, old and new, are invited to celebrate its birthday party with a gala cocktail opening Saturday, November 21, from 6 to 9pm.

The gallery has always been a co-op. Its seven painter and two jeweler members own the gallery and share the expenses, as well as the work at their handsome downtown space at Mesones 80, next door to the Teatro Ángela Peralta. Clients deal directly with the artists, without having to pay the usual 40 percent (or more) mark-up of commercial galleries.

After the initial burst of high energy and enthusiasm in starting the co-op, the fledgling art space had some rough times, mostly caused by personality conflicts. “There were some nose-to-nose arguments,” Britt Zaist remembers. “We were all prima donnas, used to working alone and having our own way. But, over the years, we´ve learned to choose our members for their ability to work together as well as for their high artistic level.”

In 1996, Galería Izamal moved from its small original space in the Meson San José—also on Mesones—to its present space at the bottom of Mesones, near the Jardín. Over the years, the gallery has shown original work by artists as diverse as José Luis Cuevas, Roberto Montenegro, Rufino Tamayo, Francisco Zuñiga, Jaime Goded, and Stan Goldberg (the illustrator of “Archie” comics). It has also featured the art of over 30 other artists, including Peter Leventhal, Marion Perlet, Keith Miller, and Mattieu Kuhn.

Its current member artists are the painters Steven Cary, Juan Ezcurdia, Roberto López Fuentevilla, Javier Garcia, Cat Grall, Henry Vermillion, and Britt Zaist, and its fine jewelers Maria Bracho and Mary Jo Dolle. Four are Mexican, four are from the US, and one is French.


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