Margarita Gandara Armendáriz (Mago) who died last year at the age of 89, has been given a well deserved retrospective at the Museo de Arte de Ciudad Juárez. A true fronteriza she was born in El Paso, but, interestingly, her grandfather registered her as a Mexican citizen. She was always interested in art, studied it formally and then after 25 years of marriage , divorced and constructed a private art studio in Juarez which she called Casa Cui and spent years there happily living and working alone until the violence in 2011 forced her out.
She was strongly influenced by Italian Renaissance al Fresco artists as well as by Byzantine mosaicists. From that beginning, she incorporated a wide variety of, at the time, untraditional material such as fiberglass, wood and incorporated techniques learned from bricklayers to focus on visually exploring her surroundings, but also the underlying cultural spirit in the form of prehispanic and Christian religious symbols which always lie just beneath the suface here .
Although she worked in many different media, it is unquestionably her large murals and her sculptures which are the most impressive and are here shown along with an installation representing her beloved studio Casa Cui.
Fortunately Casa Cui has now been turned into an art center which will not only keep alive the memory of this wonderful artist but also her desire for that space to be an oasis for artists.
The show continues until September 7. – David sokolec