Mayan Art Galley at Lake Atitlan
Mayan art galleries at Lake Atitlan are centered in San Pedro la Laguna, the Mayan art capital of Guatemala. A new one opened recently in el centro.
Presenting the creations of a different Mayan artist every month, Samajib’al Achib’al, which means “Imagination Workshop,” opened in San Pedro la Laguna in September 2014.
“The idea is to give emerging artists without their own galleries a place to show their work to the public,” says Pex Anxux Aachi, a New Yorker who first visited Guatemala in 1977 to shoot a documentary about pesticide dumping here. (His name means “garlic man” in Tz’utujil, awarded to him because he eats lots of garlic.)
The unique work of Pablo Horacio Garcia Cruz, consisting of paper cuttings behind glass, was on display in October. Some of his creations are inspired by ancient Mayan art, such as the Vase of the Seven Gods. Though Cruz is 30 years old, this is the first time anyone outside his family has seen his work. “I wasn’t even sure it was art,” he told Pex.
One thing you will not see at this gallery is different versions of the same volcano in various colors, or any other of the repetitious themes of copycat painter. You can also buy any of the art at an exhibit for reasonable prices.
Preserving Mayan Culture
A sound-proof room in back is used to record the legends and history as told by the elders of San Pedro, a project that began in 2007. More than 80 hours of recordings are being translated into Spanish and English. Pex got this idea when his language teacher told him the elders were concerned that Tz’utujil culture and language was being lost.
“It serves as a ‘marker’ of what was going on at a specific point it time,” according to Pex. These archives are available to the public as well as scholars at no charge, except making copies.
Visual Arts Training for Maya Youth
Imagination Workshop is also working to provide equipment and training to local youth so they can learn to use video and photography. The big pair of eyes on the doors refer to this project as well as to the art gallery, as they illustrate that the center is about visual art.
Volunteers are needed for the center’s various projects, so drop by if you want to help local artists and contribute to preserving Tz’utujil language, culture and customs.And if you’re looking for genuine Mayan art instead of the usual copycat paintings, this is the place to go.
When: Monday-Friday, 9 AM-12 and 1-6 PM. Iregular hours on weekend.
Where: From the Iglesia behind the market in el centro, walk through the park, turn right and look for the mural seen in the photo above.