Mago Orona Gándara

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Mago Orona Gándara
Mago Orona Gándara.png
Born(1929-02-08)February 8, 1929
DiedFebruary 18, 2018(2018-02-18) (aged 89)
El Paso, Texas, US
Known forMurals

Margarita "Mago" Orona Gándara (February 8, 1929 – February 18, 2018) was a Chicana artist. She is known for her murals which can be seen throughout El Paso, Texas and in Ciudad Juárez.


Orona Gándara was born and raised in El Paso, Texas.[1] Her nickname, "Mago," means "magician" in Spanish.[2] She was a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and then went on to teach art at Bowie High School.[1] In 1949, she saved $1,000 to go and study at the Art Institute of Chicago.[3] She attended the Chouinard Art Institute.[4] Orona Gándara also studied with Urbici Soler.[5] When Orona Gándara was twenty-one, she got married and had five children.[6] For many years, she followed her husband in his career, only separating after twenty-one years to pursue her own art career.[2][6]

Orona Gándara returned to El Paso in late 1971 after living in California for around twenty years.[1] She began teaching classes at the El Paso Museum of Art and opened her own art studio.[1] Orona Gándara also began teaching at the El Paso Community College (EPCC).[3] A mural project she did for EPCC became part of her master's degree from Antioch University.[3]

She also opened an art studio in Juárez with help from her daughter who lent her the money for the home and studio.[4][3] In the state of Chihuahua, Orona Gándara was considered an "art queen."[7] She also attempted to make a difference in the colonia she lived in, Colonia Libertad, using art and murals.[7][8] She left Juárez in 2011 when there was a large amount of violence in the city and when she was personally targeted by sicarios (assassins) who noticed that her truck had Texas license plates.[5][9] After leaving Mexico, she continued to create art, calling her next exhibition of paintings, Immigrant Pilgrims, her "revenge" on those who drove her out of her home in the colonia.[10]

Orona Gándara died in her home of natural causes on February 18, 2018.[11][5]


Orona Gándara is known as one of the few women creating murals in El Paso's art history.[12] Her work is a cultural mix of both Mexican and American themes and inhabits the concept of nepantla.[2] Her murals, Señor Sol and Time and Sand were created by her working alone.[12] Señor Sol has degraded over time and Orona Gándara considered it "neglected and dishonored."[10] Some of her work was influenced by Aztec themes, such as those displayed on La Avenida de los Aztecas and in the Tourist Information Center for Chamizal in Juárez.[11] Gándara's final work was a tiled sculpture at her own home in Central El Paso based on St. Francis of Assisi.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d Pierce, Betty (13 May 1972). "Muralist Depicts Struggle for Beliefs". El Paso Herald-Post. Retrieved 2018-04-29 – via
  2. ^ a b c Hakim, Musa Abdul (2000). "Mago Orona Gandara". In Lindenmeyer, Kriste (ed.). Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives: Women in American History. Lanham, Maryland: SR Books. p. 262. ISBN 9780842027540.
  3. ^ a b c d Baron, Richard (2005-06-10). "The Art of El Paso - The Texas Observer". The Texas Observer. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  4. ^ a b "Art From the Border". Albuquerque Journal. 4 October 1992. Retrieved 2018-04-29 – via
  5. ^ a b c d Cortés González, María (20 February 2018). "Borderland tile muralist Margarita 'Mago' Gándara dies at 89". El Paso Times. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  6. ^ a b García, Joaquín (14 June 2016). "Margarita "Magos" Orona". Net Archived from the original on 15 June 2016. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  7. ^ a b Davenport, Bill (21 August 2011). "Border Artist Seeks Haven in El Paso: Mago Gándara Leaves Juarez Studio After Threats". Glasstire. Archived from the original on 15 February 2012. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  8. ^ Jokinen, Hannimari (3 November 2017). "MEXIKO – Mago Gándara – Künstlerin an der Grenze". IAK. Politisch Reisen (in German). Archived from the original on 1 May 2018. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  9. ^ Urbina, Danielle (2011-09-23). "When Sicarios Threatened to Kill Her, the Muralist Brought Her Art to El Paso". Borderzine. Archived from the original on 26 June 2014. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  10. ^ a b Rentería, Ramón (22 August 2011). "From 'Art Queen' to Exile: Juárez Muralist Mago Gándara Seeks her 'Revenge' in New Show". El Paso Times. Archived from the original on 1 May 2018. Retrieved 2018-05-01 – via News.Wexico.
  11. ^ a b Arteaga, Roberto Carrillo (21 February 2018). "Muere la artista plástica Mago Gándara". El Diario de Juárez (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 21 February 2018. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  12. ^ a b Acosta, Teresa Palomo (12 June 2010). "Chicano Mural Movement". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 29 April 2018.

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