Meet Three Local Artists: Paola Flores Carvajal, Patricia Del Valle Perez and Daniel Amora Mora

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By Russ Ham

Visual arts are a cornerstone of Mexican culture, and they are thriving in La Paz. Artists exhibit in the Jardin Velasco and along the Malecón. Established galleries present accomplished artists and new galleries open often.

The art of three young paceños who work in different media can be seen (and purchased!) within a few blocks in the Centro of La Paz. Paola Flores Carvajal sells her locally-inspired designs on clothing and souvenirs at Caktu Souvenirs on Belisario Dominguez, just off Cinco de Mayo. At the other end of that block, Patricia Del Valle Pérez exhibits photography in La Galeria above the Bagel Shop. And at Taller 64, a block away on Independencia, Daniel Amora Mora creates prints that have been exhibited in Tijuana, Houston, Mérida, Chicago, Veracruz, and Prague.

Each artist brings different perspectives on the difficulties of a life in art, but they share many attributes. Each came from supportive families. Each has a bachelor’s degree in art or a related field. Each works tirelessly to balance creativity and commerce. And each one is content to allow her or his art to develop organically.

Paola Flores Carvajal opened Caktu Souvenirs in November of 2017. Every item there features her designs — on shirts, mugs, caps, postcards, and prints. As she sits behind the counter, she is always drawing new ideas.

Paola was born in Sinaloa, but her parents (one engineer, one attorney) were living in La Paz at the time, and Paola was nearly born on an airplane between here and Los Mochis! From elementary school, she was drawing girls, superheroes, churches, and landscapes, and showed an early knack for selling her work. “So my mother thought I would be a merchant, but my passion was drawing.”

At sixteen, she went to Carroll, Iowa as an exchange student. Adapting to a midwestern farm town was “a forced landing far away from home,” and led to internal isolation. “But in my art, I found a friend who allowed me to express myself in deep ways.” The experience aroused her curiosity regarding human behavior and she considered studying psychology, but “my heart dictated more ink and paper,” so she obtained a degree in design and graphic communication at the University of Guadalajara — a field that includes some psychology as well as creative visual aesthetics.

She then drew advertising for accounts like Gatorade and Ferrero Rocher, but wanderlust overcame her and she went traveling. “After twenty countries, I knew my eyes had never seen a more starry sky than what we see from Baja Sur,” so she returned to La Paz and sensed an unfilled niche — souvenirs with creative designs inspired by her deep connection to this area. “It was as if everything in my life had connected — my academic preparation, my work experience, my travels, my love for La Paz, and my desire to develop as an artist.”

Running a business is challenging. “I have not slept much since I rented the store, and I fight with the routine; I had been running or swimming whenever I wanted. But I have learned that having a company requires commitment, and commitment requires that you love what you do.”

Patricia Del Valle Pérez and her husband, artist Fabrizio Rozas, have run the Bagel Shop since 2011. But she also has a degree in communications and film from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and has nursed an interest in photography since her early teens. “My Uncle Memo, who is like a brother, was a world traveler and had photographs of exotic places. He showed me his camera and let me look through the viewfinder. He taught me about composition, to pay attention to the details, to take five seconds to examine the background. That’s how I learned to think about how you make photography.

“Years later, in some random conversation that probably involved too much wine, I told Fabrizio that I had always been attracted to photography. He asked, ‘So why don’t you do it?’ and he got me a film camera. The moment I got that thing it was like a love affair! I fell in love with the mystery of taking shots, then waiting to see the results.

“When digital cameras came around, at first I thought it was cheating; it was not photography because it was too quick and easy. But then I got a Nikon D50 and my life changed!”

Patricia’s current exhibition at La Galeria (upstairs over the Bagel Shop) opened in late January but will hang for another month or more. It is called “Salvajes” (“Savages”) and features images of the wild horses of BCS. “The horses are hard to find; only at random will you see them from the highway. When I am lucky enough to find them, I think hard to understand their primitive existence.

“I like to keep my photography primitive, too. I prefer natural lighting, to explore shadows and sunset. I still do not use much post-processing. I think it allows me to show more of the truth of the subject.” Patricia’s fotos feature unexpected close-up details or unusual tilted perspectives. “It is really exciting to think of something as I shoot, then see the result exactly as I had envisioned.”

Daniel Amora Mora is the youngest of these three. He was born in Los Cabos to “a different kind of incredible people who were never normal parents.” His father was a photojournalist who had a children’s show on Radio Cabo Mil called “El Perikín.” His mother, Soraya Mora Bareño, is an artist who now has a gallery behind the cathedral in San Jose.

“My parents always encouraged me to paint, but I didn’t dedicate myself to art completely until I had been out of school for a year. I found Edelmira Losilla’s book “A Brief History and Techniques of Artistic Engraving.” Profesora Losilla was the director of the Engraving Workshop at Universidad Veracruzana in Xalapa. Her philosophy resonated with Daniel: “When you create, you do not imitate nature or copy reality; rather, you have a special vision of what you want to achieve, and little by little it will be transformed into another reality.” Daniel decided to study printmaking at Veracruz University.

Daniel’s career has attracted international attention. Affiliations with universities in Houston and Chicago led to a conference at the Design Institute of the University of West Bohemia in the Czech Republic in 2017. He was inspired by Prague, “a very old city but at the same time very modern, with beautiful architecture and a very educated culture.” On the way back to La Paz, he conducted a workshop at the Taller Nacional de Gráfica in Aguascalientes.

Daniel plays trumpet (a former instructor calls Daniel “maybe the best student I ever had”), sings Death Metal with his band The Hell Racer, and runs the rock shop KM64. His retail experience has served him well. “The conflict between making art and making sales is difficult, but the artist must respect his production. Some images are easier to sell than others, but an artist should not do what sells, he should sell what he does. An artist needs to express problems, love, sadness, and happiness, and must awaken something in the observer; that’s when the sale is made. But the market is difficult!”

Editor’s note — In the same area, you can also find the gallery of Carlos César Diaz Castro on Cinco de Mayo, Casa Parra and the marquetry of Alfredo Díaz-Lloréns on Independencia, and the work of Alejandra Morante and her friends at La Morante on Revolución.

 Russ Ham is a musician, photographer, and writer who loves the people and culture of the peninsula.  He hosts an Open Mic night every other Wednesday at La Morante Art Bar.

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