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Nineteenth Century Style Greets Twenty-First Century Art Lovers

By Karen Sweet

San Miguel de Allende offers a plethora of diversity in all areas of art for the aficionado and the neophyte alike. Not often seen is the “narrative” style of painting, which took root in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, before Expressionism or Abstract. Noted American artist Neal Smith-Willow will soon exhibit a collection of narrative work.

Art Show
Sat and Sun, Oct 1 and 2, 5–8pm
Bordello Galería at Casa de la Noche
Orgános 19
No charge for admission

This October 1 and 2, Bordello Galeria at Casa de la Noche will host a rare opportunity to view an impressive collection of Neal’s work in his first exhibit since 2009, when he exhibited at the Red Door Gallery. Although Neal has exhibited numerous times in various US locations, such as Atlanta, New York, and Washington D.C., his work has not been seen locally since his 2009 show. Neal’s work is part of the State of Georgia collection, as well as that of several universities, three corporate collections, and numerous private collections from Carmel to New York.

Neal, who first discovered San Miguel in 1970 as a graduate art student at the Instituto, brings a perspective to his paintings that reflects the many nuances of traditional Mexican life as it has blended into the current city we know. When he first arrived in San Miguel, there were more horses than autos; caballeros rode into town from distant haciendas to the Jardin to socialize or do business. It was an intimate town where the campo was a few blocks away, where US military vets came on the GI Bill for educational opportunities, and where a few adventurous gringos made their home, be it for a few weeks, months, or permanently.

Neal’s “narrative” style is intended to record his experiences, filtered through sight and touch, to create images of fleeting moments of individuals and places of his time, to be kept. It is often referred to as “painterly realism,” the kind offered by such noted artists as Edgar Degas, Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, and many others. According to Neal, “I search for those moments as I move about, storing them to accommodate my muse. I strive to be an interpreter, which I hope will invite the viewer to glimpse a moment that was, now washed away by the current of time. Doing the work makes me feel like a child involved with a toy and a man loyal to his dreams.”

Today Neal is a permanent resident of San Miguel after numerous visits since 1970. During his career, he has studied art and taught for many years at Brenau University. He has been an active participant in the vibrant arts communities in several states, but is now enjoying life in our fair city. We are most fortunate to have his wealth of knowledge, experience, and talent gracing our local cultural scene.

Please join Neal and his friends for an evening of magnificent art, wine, live music, a beautiful setting, and friendship.


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