When you enter the home/studio/gallery/art workshop/cultural event setting known as Nahualli Casa de Artistas, you immediately know you have entered a very special place. The walls are full of paintings and tapestries, the tables are full of sculptures. The air is full of warmth, creativity, and energy.

Introducing: Abel Vázquez and Melva Medina, a husband and wife team who literally eat, breathe, and live their dreams and their goals: to share and teach the creative process to everyone who enters.

Almost all of the incredibly prolific art on display is their own. Visitors are invitied to spend time in the studio, learning how the artists work. They offer courses to both university art students (who unbelievably do not get much practical instruction, as most of their courses are conceptual and theoretical) as well as mature students who just want to learn artistic techniques. They have also opened their studio/home to many cultural events for poets, writers, and musicians.

Both Abel and Melva have studied at the best art schools in Mexico City – La Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado “La Esmeralda” (where they met as students) and La Academia de San Carlos. Their resumés are pages long, including group and solo national and international exhibitions, major art commissions, teaching posts, and more.

Abel Vázquez was born in Oaxaca, and trained by his father as a cabinet-maker. He eventually studied sculpture, and to this day, he explains, “my hands are connected to my brain, I simply cannot NOT make something out of any piece of paper in my hand, a napkin in a restaurant, or a piece of wax.” His paintings seem to be 2-dimensional sculptures, with the added element of color, part of his Oaxaca cultural heritage. His biography explains that his work is universal and contemporary, revealing themes of everyday life, especially pertaining to the earth and the spirit, with glimpses of magic, mysticism, and connections to his roots.

Melva Medina’s path to art as a career had more twists and turns. Born in Morelia, Michoacán, she had to satisfy her family’s fears about studying art as a career, so she pursued and achieved a separate degree as a veterinarian. The day she graduated from Veterinary Medical School, she handed her degree to her parents…and then went back to art school. She has never looked back. “I also have art running through my veins. I always knew I wanted to work doing what I love, and help others to do so. Art is how I live.”

In 2004, both enjoying successful art careers, they decided to move away from Mexico DF with their two young daughters. Although it really meant “matando la vaca” (killing the cow, an expression which means leaving success behind and starting over), they instinctively knew they would have a better life in Mérida. It has not been easy, but they make a living…or, as Melva puts it, “we are learning how to LIVE.”

Nahualli Casa de Artistas
Calle 60 No. 405 x 43 y 45 Centro.
Tel. 928 6566

By Juanita Stein

Recommended reading:
Merida Art Galleries
Face to Face: Paula Sievert
Face to Face: George Ann Huck
Face to Face: Erich Briehl
Face to Face: Abel Vasquez and Melva Medina
Face to Face: Mathieu & Stephanie Bress
Face to Face: Monique Duval
Face to Face: Dr. Carlos Cabrera
Face to Face: Ralf Hollmann
Face to Face: Connie Leal Delgado
Face to Face: Wayne Trotter

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