Salchi’s Artist in Residence

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 7.44.44 AMBy Liz Healey

When Beltran Arenas, a reporter/photographer from Oaxaca City first arrived in Salchi 5 years ago with his friend, Meghan Wood, he couldn’t imagine what a life-changing visit it would be. Beltran wanted to learn English, and he was soon adopted into the Wood family.

Meghan’s mother, Annie, is an artist, and Beltran became fascinated with her projects in Salchi, especially the tile mosaics that she was creating. He worked with Annie to refine his artistic talents and was soon designing and creating his own tile masterpieces. He created the Salchi logo and did several large pieces in homes.

At that time, businesses in Canada were experiencing a labor shortage for generally unskilled labor. After discussions with Larry Davis, owner of pubs in Calgary, Alberta, it was decided that Beltran would travel to Canada to work and hone his English skills. Beltran stayed in Canada for 3 years, living with the Wood family and working for Davis’ various businesses. He continued to work with Annie on many art projects and also became entrenched in the Mexican community in Calgary, becoming the head of its association and leading the Calmeca folk dancers.

At the end of the three years, Beltran’s visa expired, and he moved to Morelia where he continues working on his tile mosaics. Returning to Salchi last Christmas he brought several tiled mirrors, picture frames and large pots to sell. Homeowners were very excited by his return, snapping up his frames and pots and commissioning murals in their homes.

Since returning, Beltran has completed the second of his commissions and has at least 8 more to go; he plans to be working on them through the summer season.

Our very own artist in residence has truly added a unique touch to our little community, and Beltran has certainly become a part of our extended family. It was truly serendipitous that he arrived in Salchi those few short years ago

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