New Gallery of Contemporary / Modern Mexican Art

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 10.23.26 AMBy Brooke Gazer

The owner of Europa Galería de Arte is a former Marine, originally from Texas. When he married a Canadian, he moved to Calgary and became a Canadian citizen. As a consultant on oil and gas processing facilities, he’s traveled the world.

He says, “Vietnam, and more recently being taken hostage by Middle Eastern militants while working overseas, has taught me to keep life in perspective.” So when a serious family crisis arose in 2014, he quit his job at Suncor to deal with more important issues.  

A year later, Sam Cade was ready to make another change to his life. He’d been to Huatulco on vacation and decided to move here permanently.  “I’m not one to sit around, I needed something to do. Opening an art gallery struck me as something that could be stimulating.”

Sam was drawn to the modern art movements that occurred between the 1880s and the 1960s, and was especially interested in how Mexico and her artists responded. Most of the great Mexican artists fled the country during the revolution of 1910. Paris was a magnet for artists of that era, so it wasn’t surprising that most were drawn to that city.

After the revolution, the Mexican government wanted to unify the country and since most peasants were illiterate, murals became a prime medium for propaganda. Many artists, the most notable being David Siqueiros, José Orozco and Diego Rivera, returned to find profitable commissions as the fighting wore down. Many lesser known artists returned as well, bringing a fresh new artistic influence to their homeland.

Early in 2017, Sam rented a space in Punto Tangolunda along Blvd. Benito Juárez, which he transformed into a classical white box gallery. He spent seven months traveling Mexico, developing relationships with a wide cross section of talented artists. Entering this clean brightly lit space, one is initially overcome with sensory stimulation. It’s a riot of color and form that requires a few minutes for your eyes to adjust to. Paintings and prints are displayed from the floor all the way up to the vaulted ceiling, so leave yourself time if you want to stop by for a visit. There’s a lot to take in, and be sure to include the upper level where you can properly view those pieces hung above eye level, as well as his collection of nudes.

Within this collection, you’ll find a vast array of styles, including some excellent portraits with a Modigliani influence, some Cubism, and a few touches of Kandinsky, but all the works are decidedly Mexican. There are oils, pastels, sketches, and original prints. Part of one wall displays a collection of resin masks of different patinas; a few bronzes round out this exceptional collection. Most pieces range from $10,000 to $25,000 MXN; the most expensive painting sells for $55,000 MXN. For those on a tighter budget, some small digital prints go for $1,500 to $2,000 MXN.

Up to now, most of his clients have been nationals from Mexico City. These are people who appreciate modern/contemporary Mexican art and recognize the artists. Occasionally visitors from the northern climates find the colors of Mexico overbearing and they may be correct. Some hot, vivid Mexican colors don’t work in places like Canada. The reverse is also true. I brought upholstered furniture to Huatulco and the icy pastels looked insipid under the intense tropical light. A careful eye however, will spot several pieces that would fit into the cold light north of the border. These could become a lovely reminder of someone’s time in Huatulco.

Don’t worry if you’re not in the market for a new piece of art. Sam says that everyone is welcome to come and look. In fact, he takes pleasure in educating people about the contemporary Mexican art movement. To this end, he invites classes from local schools to come for an educational tour lasting about 80 minutes. During this tour, he shows a ten-minute video and each student receives a small sketch book and a few colored pencils.

If you see something you like, Sam will bring it or a few pieces out to your home in Huatulco and hang them so that you can decide if they fit in your location. Europa Galería de Arte offers a welcome addition to the cultural aspect of Huatulco.

Brooke Gazer operates Agua Azul la Villa, an ocean-view B&B in Huatulco (www.bbaguaazul.com).

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