It just so happens that we are in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
When my friend sent the New York Times article about Donald Johnson, the prisoner who paints using the pigment leached from M&M´s, who happens to have an exhibit RIGHT NOW in San Miguel de Allende, excitement started to build. What are the odds that a long ago planned trip would co-incide with a completely random art exhibit that my dear "old" high school friend living in Pittsburgh sent me from a New York Times article? Not much, I wager.
There was limited information in the article, so the research began....and the walking. Imagine extremely narrow cobblestone roads with Mexico City traffic and steep hills similar to San Francisco; that´s San Miguel.
There was an early lead that yeilded a hint of the location of the gallery. After about a mile trek each direction, it turned out to be way off. Then a late evening trek to a series of galleries that were closed. Finally, a flier with the exhibit listed.....and today, score! Not only did we find the right gallery, but it was open.
The exhibit was at once disturbing and compelling, almost like watching a trainwreck. As stated in the New York Times article, all of the pieces were postcard size. There was very obviously leftover chocolate from the M&M's in some of the pieces. There were bits of the hard candy shell in some pieces, faded of pigment. The colors were bright; however, what I found disturbing, was that on more than a few pieces/works, there were strands of human hair stuck in the "painting." Only a select few paintings were symetrical and/or peaceful. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Lots of galleries these days are filled with abstract expressionism. There was just a quality (lack of quality?) that suggested a twisted view of life. Understandable, considering Donny Johnson has been behind bars, and in solitary confinement for most of his life...for murder.
After seeing the exhibit, what baffled me most was how this tiny gallery in San Miguel could host such a large opening night fete, and get such respected press coverage. That's very compelling. Only two of the twenty-four-ish pieces had not yet sold. Kudos, Yam Gallery. ( www.yamgallery.com )