Ramón Ávila: Abstractions from Within

ARTIST PROFILE by Linda Conard  photos: Murphy Byrne. When you step into an exhibit of Ramón Ávila’s paintings, you are surrounded by color, emotion and intensity. Many of his oils suggest organic elements, such as earthy roots, plant fibers and even internal organs, in forms that are progressive and reaching, complex and tangled. In other works, distinct lines and robust […]

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Bodacious Buses!

text/photos by Capt. Thor Janson Several years ago a well-known Guatemalan photographer was leafing through one of my books and commented on the many images. Rolando especially liked my photos of the quetzal and the orchids, but when he came to the section that featured ramshackle, rural buses, he asked, “Why would you fill your book with beautiful images of Guatemala […]

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Maya Princesses

Rabin Ajau: The paramount indigenous cultural event of the Mayan world text/photos by Capt. Thor Janson — navigator / explorer (facebook.com/nubliselva) — Candaleria Coquix grew up in the little settlement of Cantón Zapotál, part of the Municipality of San Lucas Tolimán in the Department of Sololá. Just a stone’s throw from a little bay on the southern shore of Lake Atitlán, Zapotal […]

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Fiesta Time in La Antigua!

La Antigua maintains its holiday in honor of St. James on July 25th, and the celebration begins now! by Elizabeth Bell. It’s fiesta time again in La Antigua Guatemala! July 25th is our patron saint’s day—St. James—as the city was founded as Santiago de Guatemala. St. James was an apostle, the conquerors’ patron saint and is Spain’s patron saint today. […]

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Shamanic Rituals and the Power of Belief

“Roads to Adventure” text and photos by Thor Janson (fb.com/nubliselva) The fabric of Mayan life is embedded with a vibrational tonality unique to its culture. Mayan America exists as a parallel reality alongside and surrounded by Latin America, it is a realm where magic and the supernatural thrive as a part of everyday life. Everywhere, just beneath the surface of […]

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The San José Cathedral

Guatemala Insight by Elizabeth Bell. Located across from the central park, it is one of the most spectacular colonial buildings in La Antigua Guatemala. The original cathedral, built in the 1540s, was severely damaged by earthquakes in 1583 and 1600 before being demolished in 1669. Captain Martin de Andújar was in charge of the new construction, but he was relieved […]

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Clowns “Invade” Local AIDS Orphanage

Community Service. text/photo by Benjamin Reeves. Doctor Hunter Dogherty “Patch” Adams in the house There are few phrases more depressing to hear than, “AIDS orphanage.” Yet the Hospicio de San José in Santa Lucía Milpas Altas is anything but a place of sadness, although it is the home for many acutely ill children and adults. The hospicio was established in […]

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Discovering Passion in Guatemala

  by Sri Ram Kaa and Kira Raa Passion! A word that evokes many differing images with diverse expressions of the experience. April is the month in Guatemala where passion ignites its richness with a cacophony of events, emotions and experiences that are here for you to discover. When we live from our passion we experience a richer life. It […]

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Lent and Semana Santa

Antigua recently surpassed Seville, Spain as having the largest Easter Week celebration in the world today! In 1524 the conquerors had barely set foot in Guatemala when they introduced their traditions for Lent and Semana Santa from Seville, Spain. These have evolved over the centuries and Antigua recently surpassed Seville as having the largest celebration in the world today! Carpet […]

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La Camioneta, The journey of one American school bus

by Shannon McCullough Anyone living in or visiting Guatemala knows that the majority of camionetas are converted U.S. school buses. While traveling through Guatemala as part of his Latin American studies, filmmaker Mark Kendall became intrigued with the transformation process after having a conversation with a camioneta driver. It was in that moment he became inspired to share the story […]

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Hugo González Ayala, Grandes Ideas y Pequeños Formatos

by Linda Conard As you approach the landscapes of Hugo González Ayala, you may feel enveloped by the streets of La Antigua Guatemala or the Highland countryside, but it is more of a gentle embrace than entrapment. Hard lines in street scenes curve inward yet remain in perfect perspective, so the viewer almost feels more balanced within the painting than […]

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Theft! The tragedy at El Calvario and the paintings of Tomás de Merlo

by Benjamin Reeves The white walls of El Calvario church in La Antigua are almost bare; virtually their only ornamentation is the skeletons of picture frames, appropriate, perhaps for the biblical Calvary but now only a stark reminder of the church’s former artistic glory. Unknown hoodlums absconded from El Calvario with six paintings by the 18th century colonial artist Tomás […]

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Antigua Over The Years

Since 1992, much effort has been dedicated to preserving Antigua with an eye toward finding a balance between preservation and economic development. It is sometimes difficult to remember how abandoned the city truly was. After the 1773 earthquake, most residents did not want to move to muddy empty lots in Guatemala City during the rainy season. It took a royal […]

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Casa Popenoe

Rewriting history When the Universidad Francisco Marroquin acquired the Casa Popenoe from the Popenoe family in 2007, we never imagined that, through its historical research, the university would rewrite the house’s history. Dr. Arq. Alberto Garín, curator, has done a fabulous job of just that! Meticulously going through the Popenoe family records and interviewing Dr. Marion Popenoe Hatch, he has […]

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Tallando Tradiciones

Carrying on the craft of wood carving text & photo by Hilary Kilpatric “I learned my craft from watching my dad. I think I have it in my blood,” Ramos Rodrigo of Tallando Tradiciones said when asked about how he started his career as an artisan. Out of seven children in his family, he is the only of his brothers […]

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Música en Las Aldeas

Classical Music Education for Antigua’s Children by Benjamin Patrick Reeves La Antigua Guatemala does not have a premier institution for providing musical education to children, but Carolina Palomo aims to change that with the opening of a new, non-profit music school, Musica en Las Aldeas. “For 12 years [children] don’t receive any art classes in the public schools,” Palomo said. […]

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Christmas Carols in Guatemala

“When I first viewed the ancient manuscripts in the early 1980s, I was surprised at the beauty of the music and decided to devote efforts to its revival.” —Dr. Dieter Lehnoff Far from modern Christmas carols in English made popular by Bing Crosby and José Feliciano, villancicos are a common poetic and musical form from Spain that date back to […]

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Spanish American Sculpture in Guatemala

Guatemala has some of the finest wood sculptures in the world, certainly surpassing those of other Spanish American regions and many artists in Spain. A recent lecture at the Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala City by Philippe Malgouyres from the Louvre Museum brought light to the importance of Guatemalan sculpture, particularly throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. He suggests that […]

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Traditions

Giant kites of Santiago Sacatepéquez (image by photos.rudy giron.com)

November begins with one of Guatemala’s most colorful traditions, El día de Los Muertos/El día de los Difuntos (Day of the Dead), which is celebrated throughout the country in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints Day on Nov. 1 and All Souls Day on Nov. 2. For over 100 years, one of the biggest celebrations has been taking […]

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Antigua Guatemala celebrates its 34th anniversary UNESCO World Heritage Site

UNESCO declaration (image by photos.rudygiron.com)

Antigua Guatemala was included as No. 65 in the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage List during the World Heritage Convention’s Third Session in October 1979 in Luxor, Egypt. Today there are 981 sites that the World Heritage Committee considers as “having outstanding universal value… the protection, management, authenticity and integrity of properties are also important considerations.” […]

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Vultures in the Mayan World

Black vultures at Río de la Pasión (Dr. Nicholas M. Hellmuth)

The American black vulture, buzzard or black-headed vulture (Coragyps atratus) is the only species of the genera Coragyps. It is a scavenger, but also eats eggs and newborn animals. These birds find their food using their keen eyesight or by following other vultures that have a good sense of smell.

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Women Leaders — Guatemala’s Independence

María Dolores Bedoya de Molina (1783-1853)

September 15 is best known for the civic ceremonies, children’s marching band parades and marathons with Olympic-style torches as Guatemala celebrates its independence from Spain (1821). Spanish America declared independence between 1808 and 1826 and many efforts were intertwined. While women participated behind the scenes—influencing family members and friends at home—some outstanding women also participated openly. Before independence, Guatemala included […]

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Roberto Luz

Festival performers: Naik Madera

Roberto Luz is a tall, enigmatic man with long, dark hair and the posture of the perpetually preoccupied: head bent slightly forward, eyes in the middle distance. In person he’s charming and informed, but when talking to him one cannot help but feel as if he’s simultaneously elsewhere, listening to a music the observer cannot hear. He may very well be.

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Dr. Nicholas Hellmuth

Dr. Nicholas Hellmuth, founder of FLAAR — Foundation for Latin American Anthropological Research

Most people who read the Popol Vuh, the Mayan book of creation, are historians or anthropologists who do so only once to gain an insight into Mesoamerican culture thousands of years ago. Nicholas Hellmuth, Ph.D., has read the text around a dozen times. He and his team are committed to separating history from legend by verifying the authenticity of every […]

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Humboldt Penguins Arrive at La Aurora Zoo

Humboldt Penguins Arrive at La Aurora Zoo

Twelve Humboldt penguins have become the star attractions at La Aurora Zoo in Guatemala City. The aquatic birds arrived from a conservation park in France in May as part of a European threatened species program and have been settling in well to their new habitat. “They’ve been adapting to the environment really well and to the people too. They really […]

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