Monday, April 26, 2010

The Mural at the Bellas Artes in San Miguel de Allende

My last post was about the Bellas Artes in San Miguel de Allende. On my guided walking tour, we spent some time in the cavernous room towards the back of the school. This 5,555 square foot, eighty-four foot long room was once the nuns dining room. The acoustics are unbelievable! David Alfaro Siqueiros was lecturing at the Bellas Artes and the director, Alfredo Campanella, was under pressure from the GI students to improve the courses so he employed Siqueros to paint a mural. Siqueiros was the founder of the Mexican Mural movement in the 1940's. Other muralist part of that movement were Diego Rivera and Jose Clements Orozco.

Siqueiros had always admired this room and visualized a mural that would cover the entire space; the vaulted ceiling, walls and floor. His plan was to create a perspective of the mural to change as the viewer moved around the room. The mural project started with 24 students and teachers under his supervision. It depicted the life and work of Ignacio Allende, one of the founding fathers of the Mexican Revolution of 1810. The bolt of lightening down the middle of the ceiling symbolizes the struggle of the Mexican Independence.

The mural was never completed, for Siqueiros and Campanella had a falling out. Siqueiros shoved him down the stairs (really!), because of a dispute over salaries and the lack of art supplies. The fact that Siqueiros was a lifelong member of the communist party did not help either. The grievances of students were never met by Campanella and the majority of them left with Siqueiros in support. The school was eventually closed down.

The room just screams for a photo shoot. Above is Ann and her Mom, Barbara.

Diane doing her "King Tut" or should I say, "Queen Tut."

It's a very cool space and not to be missed. Don't forget, the acoustics are worth a song or two!

1 comment:

  1. Robin,
    My uncle (John E. Lynch) was one of the 100 accepted at the art school in 1948 and had to leave in 1949 due to the cut in funding. I am interested in learning more. I know that he and a friend, Ray Rice, painted a mural at a local church at that time. I am trying to find out if it still exists.

    Also I have many paintings and sketches that my uncle did while in San Miguel. To find out more check out my website, a tribute to him.
    my email is

    I have enjoyed your blog.