Artists in San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato
Renowned personalities beginning in the 1930s
One of the main drivers of development of the city in general was the Mexican Revolution. From this time on, San Miguel de Allende has prospered in different spheres, such as textiles, agriculture and of course culture.
In 1937 the Peruvian painter and political activist Felipe Cossio del Pomar arrived in the city. Cossio de Pomar founded the University School of Fine Arts, along with other community leaders of the group Friends of San Miguel. Stirling Dickinson was appointed director of the school in 1938, who founded with community leaders the Friends of the San Miguel University School of Fine Arts. He was appointed director of the school in 1938 and, along with Pomar, designed a bilingual English/Spanish catalog to provide it with a media campaign for various universities and institutes in Latin America, the United States, and Canada. They succeeded in empowering the school by making it popular among foreigners.
By 1946 Felipe Cossio was allowed to return to his country and he sold the school to Alfredo Campanella, whose administration failed. Although he had invited the artist David Alfaro Siqueiros to paint a mural, Siqueiros organized students and teachers to close School of Fine Arts in 1949. This was the year that Felipe Cossio returned to San Miguel de Allende and, along with the former governor of Guanajuato, Enrique Fernández Martínez, his wife Nell Harris and Stirling Dickinson, decided to restore an18th Century Renaissance style palace to open the new art school, the Instituto Allende.
In the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, Guanajuato and environs flowered in the arts. Famous Mexican muralists like Rufino Tamayo, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Diego Rivera lived and worked in San Miguel de Allende and in Guanajuato as well as Beat Generation of poets and writers like Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady. There were also outstanding Mexican artists who were teachers at the Instituto Allende or were celebrities in this city, for example, José Chávez Morado, his wife Olga Costa, Carlos Mérida, Feliciano Peña, Jesús Nicolás Cuellar, among others.
One of the most important and outstanding artists in San Miguel de Allende was Romeo Villalva Tabuena (1921-2015), of Philippine origins, who lived and worked in this city for sixty years.
He was part of a generation of the Philippines who lived through the diaspora. This was owing to the nation’s difficult road to independence from the United States—after the Colonial period under Spanish rule—during the 1940s, and during the Japanese invasion and occupation during the Second World War that held up this process until 1946 as well as to the dictatorial regimes installed there by Marcos and Aquino towards the end of the Twentieth Century. Tabuing decided to remain in San Miguel de Allende beginning in 1955 until his death.
Hombre en blanco y negro, 1956
Mujer con arracadas, 1960
Rostro Hombre I, 1956