As soon as we arrived in Guadalajara we realised that this was a city of artists. Posters and billboards for all sorts of gigs, theatre performances, and galleries dotted the highway, and the architecture of the city centre includes a stunning theatre and performance spaces both indoors and out. Our hosts in the city actually run a café-slash-performance space known as the Casa Suspendida, founded by a well-known local actress and director who also leads courses, directs pieces, and sometimes performs in the Suspe. Sadly there were no performances on at the time we stayed above the venue, but that was because the family-run business was in the process of renovating, and a couple of weeks after we left, it reopened to great acclaim in the local press. We can’t wait to go back and get involved another time, but for now we got the benefit of a behind the scenes tour when all was quiet.
Perhaps one of Guadalajara’s most famous sons is the renowned muralist José Clemente Orozco. After several days catching up with some work at home, it was with great pleasure that we went out with our friend to explore some of the famous landmarks of GDL, including the Cabañas Cultural Institute – once a public hospital, now a vibrant art gallery with visiting installations, and home to some of the most striking murals I have seen in Mexico. Partly due to the romanticism and fashion-fixation currently attached to Frida Kahlo, her husband Diego Rivera’s murals have been most widely appreciated (by tourists, at least), with Siqueiros completing the ‘three musketeers’ of leftist Mexican public art. It was put to me that Orozco’s work was overlooked by many, and it certainly had been by me. A trip to the Institute left me entranced, lying flat back on the benches in order to gaze straight up at “Man of Fire” and other works. Orozco’s imagery was darker, more urgent; less ‘folksy’ than Rivera’s and straight to the point. Rivera’s murals at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City will always inspire me, but Orozco impressed me enormously and I was so glad to have visited.
You can visit the museum which gives you access to all the main murals and whichever touring exhibitions are on. At the time of our visit we saw a set of striking photos taken around the Holy Land and the communities that intertwine within them.