The Nopal—A Mexican Icon
Travels along the Laja has taken a temporary backseat to exhibits that Linda and I are working on. Linda has an exhibit of watercolors scheduled to open on December 1st at the Galleria San Francisco Annex in Fabrica Aurora and my exhibit of pastels with Kambria Anton will open on January 4th at Muro Cafe. Plus there have been some bouts of ill-health in the mix.
If you are in San Miguel, mark your calendars…..you are invited to a gallery opening of “The Nopal—A Mexican Icon” at Muro Café, Cerrada de San Gabriel 1 in El Obraje on Friday, January 4, 2019 from 5pm to 7pm featuring pastels by (me) Lorie Topinka and Kambria Anton. There will be music and dinner can be purchased if one wishes.
The show will be up for the month of January and can be viewed on the 2nd floor of Muro Café, Cerrada de San Gabriel 1 in El Obraje.
The framer just delivered all of my framed pastels for the show which prompted this preview along with some notes. This is particularly for those readers who are out-of-town and will miss the show. While these pastels have all been photographed through glass and thus not as bright or as sharply focused as actual photos of the art, they give you, the viewer, some idea of what the show will be like.
Kambria Anton and I are friends, neighbors, and pastel artists who frequently work together. Our most recent collaboration has been interpretations of the nopal cactus primarily from photos taken at El Charco del Ingenio. Our widely divergent styles—Kambria’s abstract and mine realistic—make this an exciting show.
This one seems to be a favorite of many people….perhaps there will be a bidding war??
As a watercolor and pastel artist here in San Miguel de Allende, I am drawn to the bold colors and iconic images that surround me. While I have exhibited my watercolors of capillas previously, this is my first exhibit of pastels.
The theme of this exhibit is the nopal cactus sometimes referred to as the prickly pear cactus. Not only are there nopals everywhere in the rural landscape surrounding San Miguel, the nopal is featured on the Mexican flag.
This was from a photo of only a small part of a huge nopal. If you think 10x larger that would be about right for the size of the entire plant.
The 100 or so species of nopal in Mexico may look similar, but to my eye, there is much diversity in pad color, shape, and spininess as well as obvious differences of flowers and fruit (tunas).
Wins the spininess award!
These pastels, based on photos taken almost exclusively in El Charco del Ingenio, celebrate the diversity of form and color in this Mexican icon—the nopal.
Just look at the substantial spines on this one and the play of colors…older pads like the one at the bottom of the painting are often a different color from the newest season’s pads.
Whatever I am painting, I get lost, for a time, in the looking and seeing. There is no time; no distance; no separation between me and the object or scene—this creative process is joyful and I try to represent, with color, this joy.
This one needs a little explanation….my neighbor Manuel was peeling a huge box of tunas with his bare hands (no small feat) and just discarding the peels which I noticed formed small crosses. I collected several and painted tunas and peels. The fruit has many large seeds which are eaten along with the sometimes delicious pulp.
The pastels are all on sanded pastel paper. Many were begun with watercolor underpaintings that, in places, show through in a playful way. The layering of colors and juxtaposition of colors add artistic interest to this singular theme.
I think you can see the underpainting showing through in this diptych…pink on the upper one and orange on the bottom.
And there are more…..