Memory and Art: The Legacy of Toni de Gerez and Richard and Dorothy Cretcher
By Jade Arroyo
On Thursday, May 19, at 6pm, the Biblioteca will host a welcoming ceremony for the opening of a new photographic collection to be exhibited permanently in the Toni de Gerez Poetry Room.
Dorothy and Richard Cretcher who, after living in San Miguel de Allende for 20 years are returning to the United States, donated these photographs. Behind the opening of this exhibit, however, there is a story of memory, pre-Hispanic ties, promotion of culture, and love for San Miguel.
The Cretchers’ donation consists of a series of 16 analog photographs taken by Richard Cretcher. The photographs capture various prominent cultural and architectural points of the Mayan culture in Chichén Itzá, Tulum, Uxmal, Coba, Palenque, and Copán. The images were taken on different trips to the Riviera Maya and Central America, made by the couple and spanning more than 40 years. Their expeditions were initially inspired by talks with Toni de Gerez, one of the founding librarians of the Biblioteca, and a promoter of education who felt a deep fascination and interest in native Mexican culture.
Gerez, a Finn from Culiacán, Sinaloa, was a pioneer librarian who loved poetry. She was a prominent figure in the local cultural scene and always closely related to education. In Culiacán, she was the initiator of an English school. Gerez was passionate about literature—particularly poetry—and loved indigenous Mexican cultures, especially the Nahua and Maya. She had several books of poetry and a children’s book published, including Mi Corazón es un Pedazo de Jade (My Heart is a Piece of Jade). She is also celebrated for taking on the task of translating poems.
The Quetzal room was Gerez’s personal project. She selected both its name and the books found in this beautiful room. When she died, it was renamed in her honor.