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Another Biblioteca Art Mystery Solved

By Debra Broussard

As many of you have been following in Atencion, the Biblioteca Pública de San Miguel de Allende has taken huge strides to register and identify artwork located throughout the library. In a storage room in the library, we located a number of very interesting large-scale works by the artist Troy Bel-Jon.

Her works are on metal canvases. Some were created using abrasive materials to paint wonderfully imaginative scenes. Others are painted and collaged. The reflection of the colors emanating from the metal canvases is eternally fresh and modern. Some depict images of Mexican-related themes, and others are more abstract, yet capture underlying organic themes. With a bit of sleuthing, we were able to locate Troy Bel-Jon’s daughter, Rhea Bel-Jon Calkins, and learned that Rhea and her sister, Athena Bel-Jon DeBonis, donated these works to the Biblioteca with the understanding that several would be displayed in the Biblioteca and the others would be sold to help to fund the proper mounting and lighting of these works.

The documentation of these artworks is a work-in-progress. Our gratitude goes to the Bel-Jon sisters for this generous gift. Rhea shared a brief biography of her mother, which is reprinted here in part.

Troy Bel-Jon

1920–2003

During Troy Bel-Jon’s extraordinary life, she was a driving force and collaborator in Nikos Bel-Jon’s metal mural studios in San Francisco and New York and was herself commissioned to create numerous metal murals and patterned metal installations in her own New York studio. She went on to create hundreds of works of art, combining classical techniques and metal murals after closing her professional studios.

Originally from Missouri, Troy met Greek-born artist Nikos Bel-Jon in Hollywood in 1946, where she was working at Columbia Studios and he was working as a set artist for Fox Studios. These talented, beautiful people were instantly drawn to each other. They married in 1947.

Nikos Bel-Jon’s untimely death in August 1966 left Troy with debts, unfinished commissions, and two daughters. Never to be daunted, Troy went ahead and finished the outstanding commissions herself. In the 12 years after Nikos Bel-Jon’s death, Troy Bel-Jon created 22 murals and 17 patterned metal commissions.

From 1978 until her death in 2003, Troy Bel-Jon focused on her art for herself and no one else—no clients, no galleries, no representatives, no one but herself and her art. She also began to travel and then discovered her future love––San Miguel. She eventually sold her home in New York and moved to San Miguel in 1986, where she thrived. Troy became a very private artist in San Miguel. Under duress, she participated in a few joint exhibits at Bellas Artes and La Cucaracha. She opened her private studio to the public during an art walk for only one evening. For the most part, she kept her art to herself and her circle of friends and sought no recognition from the public. She spent most of her later life perfecting her various experiments on metal.

Troy was advised by her doctor that a move to sea level would greatly prolong her life, but she would not even begin thinking of her life without San Miguel. She continued to create art until her death in her home in San Miguel on September 13, 2003.

 

 

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