Paula Sievert cara a caraWith the abundance of excellent art galleries in Mérida, it is hard to remember that a mere nine years ago there were none. If you wanted to see contemporary art, you went to the wonderful MACAY Museum, but the art is not for sale there! So when Paula Sievert arrived from New York in 2001, she decided to rectify the situation and opened Galería Mérida, originally in Santiago and now on Calle 59.

Paula has a loyal stable of talented Yucatecan sculptors, painters, photographers and engravers, and multi-media artsts too, including her gallery partner, photographer and sculptor, Ivan R. De León. Her eco-friendly gallery is now a Foundation, which means it is a cultural institution which promotes the art of México and Yucatán. The gallery is something of a cultural center, actively promoting film, poetry, and the performing arts. She exhibits private collections and does co-op projects with the state.

Although Paula is not an artist herself, her brother and son (both named William) are. But Paula’s education (PhD. in Library Science with a focus in Art History) and her career (she used to manage a gallery for the city of New York, among other things) have provided her with a prolific knowledge of, and appreciation for, the arts.

When Paula came to Mérida it was love at first sight. The realtor who showed her around, and the hosts of the B&B where she was staying, were so kind and caring, that she fell in love with them all and the city too. She bought a house three days later and that is where she opened the first Galería Mérida. At first she went back to New York, but when the snow started to fall, and then she broke her arm, she had enough. She sold her house and came here to stay.

“The satisfaction I get from working with fine artists is my main reason for having this gallery. It’s fun!” she says. “I am not an artist; art is in my soul, not in my head or in my hands.”

Over the years, more galleries have opened in the city. Paula does not see them as competition; on the contrary: “There are many talented artists out there, so the more galleries there are to support them, the better. They specialize in different things; some Cuban art, some folk art.” She likes going to the other galleries to feast her eyes on whatever is new. “The art scene here will continue to grow,” she says. “There is an art school which recently produced its first set of graduates, and there are artists coming from the small towns. Eventually Yucatán will be known for its own art movement, like Michoacán and Oaxaca. There is too much talent here for that not to happen.”

Paula’s clients come from all over the world, so her Yucatecan artists are gaining a wider audience. “I love my gallery. And quite simply, it wouldn’t be possible for me to do this in New York.”

Galeria Merida
Calle 59 #452-A x 54 y 52 Centro.
Tel. 924 0117
Tuesday – Friday: 10:00 – 12:30, 2:30 – 5:30.
Closed Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Recommended reading:
Merida Art Galleries
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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