Wednesday

Do You Know Eugenia Louis?


On Friday, I hung a Mexican folk art painting in my kitchen. As usual when I see that particular painting - not the one below, by the way -, I admired all the tiny symbolic details of that village scene. Suddenly, the name of a Mexican painter, Eugenia Louis, popped into my mind, and I decided to google her.

Nothing.

After much patience, I located a poor photo of a painting of hers that has been sold.

A further search unearthed this other painting:



It was a listing on Etsy, described as a print from 1984. The style was undeniable, and the location unmistakable:  San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where I lived from 1987 to 2003.

That's where I met Eugenia Louis.

She was already a fixture there, a very popular painter. Her paintings, prints and postcards sold like hotcakes. 

We got along really well and became quite good friends. 

At one point she opened her own gallery, and after she had seen a student exhibition at Instituto Allende, where I was showing some of my ceramics, she invited me to display my pieces in it. She put quite a high price on them, which flattered me a lot.

Here we are, a group of her friends, in her gallery. I don't remember what the occasion was: the opening of the gallery perhaps? She's the tiny lady with the big smile on the right. I am the woman in the pink smock in the centre. The lantern on the table was one of my ceramics pieces. 


You can see how elegant she was, always dressed to the nines, in beautiful garments. If I remember correctly, she used to sew them herself.

The photo is dated 1994. Shortly after that, she moved to Patzcuaro, Michoacan. Very far from San Miguel. I visited her there in December 1995, and that was the last time I saw her.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

After locating the Etsy listing, I wrote the seller and asked him if he was interested in some information about his painting. I thought it might help flesh out his description.

He wrote back quickly and positively, so I sent him this description:
The painting represents the town of San Miguel de Allende, in central Mexico. I lived there from 1987 to 2003; I met Eugenia Louis very early on and she was already a fixture there. We became friends, sharing many a cappuccino in a local cafĂ©.  
Eugenia was proud of being a self-taught artist; in spite of being a prolific painter, her work was so popular that she had to make prints of everything.  
For anyone who has lived there, it's very easy to recognize San Miguel in the painting because all the symbols are there: a painter working on her canvas, a rooster on a rooftop, the donkeys loaded with leaf mold (a compost used for growing plants), the popsicle cart, and especially the many domes, including the pink stone cathedral (upper right).  
Eugenia moved to Patzcuaro (in the state of Michoacan) around 1994; I visited her there in December 1995 and that was the last time I saw her. I do not know whether she is still alive - she was older than I and I'm 76 so it wouldn't be surprising if she had passed away. 
San Miguel is a very popular tourist destination (as well as a retirement haven for foreigners) so there is a lot of information about it on the web.
We exchanged a few more emails, and then I received this message from the seller:
Now, since I know the story, and actually I’m about to retire, and was thinking and researching St Miguel area, I don’t think I want to sell it
Greetings from Seattle  
I suddenly remembered that I probably had a photo of her, and found the above one -- the only one in fact, which is very surprising since I used to take tons of photos back then. So I sent it to him, and that prompted the following from him:
Wow 
Thank you very much Gina 
I’m pulling her picture from the website now 
Stay in touch
His last sentence refers to the fact that I am making some enquiries among the few friends I have left in San Miguel, to try and find out if she is still alive, and if so, where is she?

But there's one thing that no one will be able to explain to me: Why is she so totally absent from the Web?

I will continue looking for her...


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P.S. My next post will be about the painting I mentioned at the beginning.







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