Jardín del Arte Sullivan
The Jardín del Arte Sullivan (literally Sullivan Garden of Art) is an outdoor art market which takes place every Sunday near the historic center of Mexico City in a neighborhood called Colonia San Rafael. This market began in the 1950s, when young artists who could not show their works in traditional galleries and shows decided to set up in front of their studios and in local parks to exhibit and sell their work. A number began to do so at the base of the Monumento a la Madre (Monument to Mothers) at Sullivan Park and in 1959, the Asociación Jardín del Arte, a non profit civil association was established affiliated with the Instituto Nacional de la Juventud Mexicana. Since then the market has shown works by a number of artists who moved on to better things such as Rodolfo Morales, established a second and third art market in the San Ángel neighborhood and has grown to 700 members. However, the original San Rafael neighborhood has deteriorated since the 1950s, and this has had a negative impact on the original Jardín del Arte.
The “Jardín del Arte Sullivan” is an outdoor art market which takes place every Sunday at Sullivan Park, behind the Monumento a la Madre (Monument to Mothers) in Colonia San Rafael. Each week, between 350 and 400 artists display and sell their works.
Works displayed include paintings, sculptures, etchings and photography. The sizes of the works range from miniatures of five or ten cm to very large paintings measuring meters in height and width. There are a wide variety of techniques, styles and media presented at the market. Paintings include inks, oils, watercolors, pastels on canvas, acrylic and paper. Paintings include those of children, landscapes, abstracts and nudes. Prices range from twenty pesos to 50,000, depending on the format and the artist.
This art market was established in the 1950s in order to give young and unknown artists a chance to show and sell their work. This is still the case today. Some move on from the market after they gain some fame, but others stay here either because of need or preference. One of the latter is Jorge Espinosa Carrizales, who has been selling at the market for over forty years. Because of his longevity at the market, he is nicknamed “el muerto” (the dead one) . A number of artists give classes in the market itself in painting, sculpture and even violin, which is given by Espinoza Carrizales at the Serapio Rendón corner of the park. Other longtime artists in the market include Roberto Ulises, Marco Antonio Zepeda, Reynaldo Torres and Armando Anguiano. Some dismiss the market as for lesser talents because of its public character and others because it has become a tourist attraction. Longtime artist Roberto Ulises states that exhibiting here can shut an artist out of venues such as the INBA, but declined to say why. However, a number of artists from here have been recruited by national and international galleries and other venues, including the Sistema Nacional de Creadores de Arte .
The market is held in Sullivan Park in Colonia San Rafael, surrounded by Villalongín, Río Neva, Sullivan and Serapio Rendón streets, behind the Monumento a la Madre. This is an 18,525 acre park which was enlarged in the late 1990s, when a former parking lot was moved underground and the above ground space integrated with the park already here. It is one of the few parks in the San Rafael, Colonia Cuauhtémoc area of the city. The market is set up and taken down on Sunday, during the rest of the week, the park has its normal function.
The Sunday art market is managed and sponsored by the Asociación Jardín del Arte, a non profit civil association, in conjunction with the Instituto Nacional de la Juventud Mexicana . This organization, founded in 1959, has about 700 members and sponsors two other similar markets in San Ángel, in the southwest of the city. Members participating artists and the organization sets a number of rules as to who may exhibit and how. Early in its history, artists could display whatever works they wanted for however long. Today, a commission now selects what can be displayed with limits on the number of works of the same technique. There is also a minimum level of quality required. One rule prohibits the sale of copies of other works. All works must be originals. Artworks with political and religious themes are also prohibited. These 700 vendors sell at one of the association’s markets each week and pay a forty peso/week fee to cover costs such as the maintenance and storage of displays and the publication of informative brochures. Guest artists, not members of the association, are also permitted to sell for a period of up to three months at a time. Some of the members of the association include Víctor Manuel Barragán, Daniel Bejarano Pichardo, Jorge Espinosa Carrizales, Lilian Gutiérrez, Antonio Huizar Reyes, Alma Juárez Ilizaliturri, Víctor Peralta, Maricarmen Villasana and Guadalupe Motilla.
In Mexico City, the word “jardín” or garden can be applied to a variety of spaces, from playgrounds to spaces devoted to plants. However, often when “jardín” is part of the place name, it indicates public space, and one most frequented on Sundays for leisure or ritual purposes. This dates back to the custom of visiting parks, plazas and gardens after Mass.
The origin of the market begins on nearby Justo Sierra Street, in an area where many university students lived in the 1950s, including young artists. A number of these artists such as Antonio Albanes, Armando Anguiano, Napoleon Panama, Efrain Reyes, Oswaldo Partida, Rafael Arles, Georgina Isita, and Jorge Contraras formed an association called “Grupo 23 Escalones” (23 Stairs Group) to share and critique each other's work. It was at one of these sessions that Jorge Contraras proposed the idea of selling artworks on the steps of their studios and into the local parks on Sundays when people were out wandering the streets and parks. The reason behind this was that it was very difficult for young and unknown talent to get their work shown at conventional galleries and shows.
In 1955, a number of young artists began to show their works at the base of the Monumento a la Madre (Monument to Mothers) at Sullivan Park, including Armando Anguiano, Fernando Cruz Espana, Oswaldo Partida, Roberto Kan and Jorge Contreras. The association was founded four years later in 1959, by David Marín Foucher and Jorge Contreras. One year later, the association became affiliated with the Instituto Nacional de la Juventud Mexicana, which remains the case to this day.
A number who sold works here as amateurs went on to bigger things such as Rodolfo Morales, Leonardo Nierman and Luis Pérez Flores (former director of the Academy of San Carlos) and Víctor Ríos Valencia, winner of the first Premio Nacional de Pintura (National Painting Prize) organized by the association in 1956. More recent talents include Ernesto Alcántaro, who presented at the Galería de la Plástica Mexicana and Froylán Ojeda, who has had exhibitions in Mexico and abroad. Other notable names include Austreberto Morales and Edgardo Coghlan. Famous buyers at the market have included Emilio Azcárraga Milmo and former president Adolfo Ruiz Cortines .
The success of the Jardín del Arte Sullivan prompted the association to establish a second in the San Ángel neighborhood in the southwest of the city in the early 1970s. This market grew until it had to be split into two, the Bazar del Sábado in San Jacinto and a Sunday market in Del Carmen. (junto) There are other similar art markets in other cities, such as Querétaro, but they are not affiliated with the Mexico City organization.
As late as 1989, the association had only 350 members, but since then it has grown to about 700. There used to be stronger restrictions on what could be sold. No non-art items such as flowers and even art forms such as still lifes and miniatures were not permitted. However, since then, these restrictions have been relaxed or eliminated. Since the market was founded in the 1950s, Colonia San Rafael has deteriorated and problems such as homelessness, prostitution and crime have become problems even though a police monitoring station was built just outside the park to combat these problems. The park proper has had rehabilitation work with evictions of homeless in the late 1990s and 2005, but neighbors complain that the homeless simply come back later.
Despite the market, the park has suffered serious deterioration over the past 20 years due to crime, nearby prostitution and the proliferation of non-art street vendors. While the homeless move out for the Sunday market, they dominate the park for the rest of the week. The result has been graffiti, garbage, dog waste and playgrounds in poor conditions. It is common to see cushions, and chairs as well and drying clothes on the park’s statues. In fact, by Sunday, the smell can be strong enough that art vendors need to clean with detergent and pine cleaner before setting up. The Cuauhtémoc borough invested 5 million pesos for cleaning, repairs and the improvement of drainage and lighting, and the homeless were expelled from the park in 2005, but area residents complain that the problems have returned.
The streets around the park have become filled with street vendors, invading the park proper during the rest of the week. The art market itself on Sunday is being infiltrated by these vendors, making it look more like an ordinary tianguis, rather than an outdoor art gallery. This has the effect of driving away those with the resources to buy original paintings.
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- Anayansin Inzunza (January 31, 2005). "Danan Jardin del Arte" [Jardin del Arte damaged]. Reforma (in Spanish). Mexico City. p. 4.
- Luz Romano (April 9, 2003). "San Rafael: Desgastada por el abandono" [San Rafael: worn out from abandonment]. Reforma (in Spanish). Mexico City. p. 6.