Published On: Wed, May 27th, 2020

San Miguel’s Art in the Park Patroness

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Previously untapped public park spaces became coveted outdoor galleries displaying contemporary art since the 1870s.  Art in the Park came to San Miguel through the concentrated efforts of a local art restorer, teacher and artist, Esperanza Orvañanos Acosta.  Esperanza, beyond a doubt, is the best patroness of the art to ever come out of our own colonia Guadalupe!

Esperanza realized the untapped public space of Parque Juarez could provide coveted outdoor galleries in which to display contemporary art.  Plus the new forum provided a stage for emerging artists to display their work and reach wider audiences.

Gallery rents are costly and to place your paintings in another’s gallery limits your income potential.  However, thanks to Esperanza, an artist can open a weekend gallery in Parque Juarez surrounded by both other artists and art-buying tourists.  I never have weekend guests that don’t swing by park and rarely do they come back empty handed!

Working with local government officials can be a challenging tango of sorts, as political parties come and go, but Esperanza has kept the weekend galleries going for over a decade and multiple administrations.

In addition, Esperanza has organized Day of the Dead events in park years before they became our most visited days for foreign tourism each year.  If you arrange way in advance, you can even have Esperanza apply your Catrina make-up becoming the un-dead belle of the ball!

As a teacher and feminist, Esperanza has taught weekly painting classes, with a focus on images of the Virgin, for two decades.

In addition to teaching and her park activities, Esperanza is currently our art restorer of note.  Esperanza is well aware art and symbolism were extremely important during the Inquisition Era of San Miguel. The Spanish used symbols of Spanish culture and Catholicism in their art and architecture as a tool to establish new cultural norms in the region. For the Spanish, art was a tool for colonization and religious education. Esperanza has spent countless hours restoring many of the baroque treasures that intertwine among our churches.

As a young woman, Esperanza fell in love with a local lad, moved here and had three children.  Her daughter, Vivi, in addition to being an ace salsa dancer, has followed in her mother’s artistic footsteps often supervising the weekend art in the park including her own art.  Like her mother, Vivi’s art is visually local focusing on churches, animals and Day of the Dead.

Spend some of your weekend, once the park re-opens, chatting up Vivi, Esperanza and other local artists that make San Miguel so artistically active and unique!

by Joseph Toone



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