Life and Work of Stirling Dickinson
By Jade Arroyo
Next Friday, January 20, a lecture will be given at the Biblioteca on Stirling Dickinson, a personality who was a cornerstone in the development of sanmiguelense culture in the twentieth century and the most beloved expatriate in the community. Stirling Dickinson (1909–1998), an artist who spent most of his life in San Miguel de Allende, was one of the initiators of the foreign art community. Commemorating 80 years since his first at SMA.
Lecture: Stirling Dickinson
Fri, Jan 20, 5pm
Santa Ana Theater
The talk, which takes place at the Teatro Santa Ana on Friday, January 20, will last approximately 90 minutes. Entrance is free and is suitable for all the public.
The talk will be given in Spanish, but simultaneous translation will be available so that both Mexicans and foreigners can attend. The speaker is Eva Luz Villalón Turrubiates, who says, “I am celayense by birth, salmantina by residence and sanmiguelense in my heart. I am a writer, author of two books of oral history, traditions, anecdotes, and legends of Salamanca, and I write for several publications. I am also a university scholar and amateur farmer.
“All my life I have had a very special connection—magic, I would say—with this city. Since I was little, I have always related to the people in one way or another. I have had the opportunity to travel around the world, and nowhere have I felt that magic, that connection, that energy which is so typical of San Miguel and that always brings me back.”
The talk seeks to bring new generations to know Stirling Dickinson (who was also a contributor to the Biblioteca and its scholarships), to retake the projects Dickinson left behind, to support the Biblioteca, and to commit to it. There is also a desire to preserve the memory of a very special Sanmiguelense and pass his legacy to the next generation.
About the conference
The conference will begin with a brief biographical sketch of Stirling Dickinson, with special emphasis on the years he spent in San Miguel. “In it we will speak of his childhood, his youth, his adventures as a globetrotter, his foray into the literary world, and his encounter with José Mojica, who would finally bring him to this town. We will have an idea of Dickinson’s life and work in San Miguel, his participation in the establishment of the Bellas Artes School and Instituto Allende, his philanthropic work especially for the children and youth of San Miguel, his great dedication to local sport, his passion for orchids, the love he always had for the people and his people, to the extent of being the only American who has received the title of Favorite Adoptive Son of San Miguel,” Eva commented.
The talk is based on several sources, such as the biography of Stirling Dickinson written by John Virtue, the books he wrote himself, some interviews, data that Felipe Cossio del Pomar collected in his books. Above all, the anecdotal part of the talk has an invaluable source: the stories from people who were very close to Dickinson during his life, who were his companions and friends, “people I have been fortunate to meet and now call my friends,” says Eva. They are people like Juan Manuel Fajardo, who worked very closely with Dickinson in the Biblioteca for a long time, and Belém Oviedo, who lived in Dickinson’s house all his life because his father, Isaac Oviedo, was Dickinson’s gardener and a trustworthy man. His family was practically Dickinson’s adopted family in San Miguel. Don Jose Sánchez, one of the baseball players on Dickinson’s team from 1946 to this day presides over the Association of Friends of Dickinson A.C.
“I think the impact of the Stirling Dickinson on San Miguel and the Sanmigueleses is very important since, in a way, it was he who put the town on the world map. Although the original idea of the schools of Fine Arts came from Cossio del Pomar, Dickinson was its great publicist at the international level,” Eva relates.
According to Eva, San Miguel was known around the world, thanks to the great promotional work that Dickinson carried out throughout his life. The arrival of foreign students in the 1940s and the expatriates definitely changed the dynamics of the town’s life and created a unique local culture that has given San Miguel an identity and a very special personality.
In the year 2013, after finishing her second book, Eva began to do research for a novel set in the postwar period in San Miguel de Allende. Inevitably the figure of Stirling Dickinson came out in the investigation, with photos, documents, and information that fell in her lap.
“And I fell in love with his life, his history, and his legacy. And it is this material, those stories and anecdotes that now I want to share with the Sanmiguelense community.
“A man who did everything, who was an adventurer, an intellectual, an artist, a writer, a teacher, a philanthropist, a sportsman, a volunteer, an ecologist, a florist … He is an emotive and inspiring character.”
Simultaneously, the mural by the Art School Stirling Dickinson for young artist, with professor Rick Brunson, will be inaugurated. A small reception will be offered for the attendees. Fri 20, 5pm.