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San Miguel Live: Neal Smith-Willow at Galeria Izamal

By Henry Vermillion

A young vaquero wearing bright chaps and his charro hat rides past the porticos in downtown San Miguel. A street dog watches, ready to move out of the way, if necessary. A young woman balances precariously on a stool as she reaches to hang the last bright dress over an arched entryway festooned with colorful clothing. We watch as a young woman swings her tennis racquet at a tense moment in a game which we glimpse for just an instant through an arched stone doorway.

Art Exhibition
Work by Neal Smith-Willow
Sat, Jun 17, 6‒8pm
Galeria Izamal, Mesones 80

These and other vivid and memorable San Miguel moments have been captured in oils by Neal Smith-Willow. His inaugural show at Galeria Izamal opens with a public reception on Sat, June 17, 6–8pm. Galeria Izamal is downtown at Mesones 80, next door to the Angela Peralta Theater. The gallery is newly repainted and refurbished.

Neal Smith-Willow is an artist in the painterly-realism school of Degas, Eakins, and Singer-Sargent. His credentials are solid: studies at the Art Students League, New York; the Ringling School of Art, Sarasota; and the Instituto Allende, San Miguel, where he received an MFA, with studies under James Pinto in the early 1970s. He has taught art on the university level as well.

He is a storyteller in paint. His pictures are not sentimental, yearning for an imaginary lost past. Rather, he captures images of daily life which are quickly gone, yet which stick in his mind (and ours) and somehow seem iconic of the time and place. He has no need to distort or exaggerate; his colors are handsome, and his brushwork is sure, unobtrusive, and beautiful.

Smith-Willow has been a painter all his life. He knew what his calling was from an early age, and he has been true to it, with all its inevitable ups and downs. “The premise of my work is to record my experiences—filtered through sight, smell, and touch—to create images of fleeting moments so that they are never lost,” he says.

Galeria Izamal is a cooperative gallery founded in 1992. Its members are the jewelers Maria Bracho and Crystal Victoria, and the painters Juan Ezcurdia, Roberto López Fuentevilla, Leslie Jakobovits, Bill Morrow, Neal Smith-Willow, Henry Vermillion, and Britt Zaist.


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