Published on August 28th, 2016 | by Mark Chesnut0
Guadalajara’s Eye-Catching Political Art by Jose Clemente Orozco
Do politics and art mix? If you’re a fan of the work of Jose Clemente Orozco (1883-1949), a Mexican painter who imbued his murals with political statements, the answer is a resounding yes. His work — which addresses issues including nationality, race and poverty — has graced structures in Mexico City and New York City, but since Orozco was born in a town in the state of Jalisco, that state’s capital city — Guadalajara — is logically one of the best places in Mexico to view some of his most impressive works.
During my recent trip to Guadalajara, Mexico, I visited the three best places to view some of Orozco’s most impressive and dramatic artwork in Guadalajara. To fully appreciate the meanings of his work, I recommend hiring a guide or taking a guided tour at each of the facilities. So if you’re looking for interesting and artsy things to do in Guadalajara, be sure to include these three tourist attractions on your itinerary.
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Museo de las Artes (Museum of the Arts)
Located near Parque Revolución (Revolution Park), the Museo de las Artes is housed in an attractive French renaissance building that once housed administrative offices for the University of Guadalajara. Today, it’s a modern art museum, and the auditorium is a must-see permanent attraction, thanks to two imposing Orozco murals: El Hombre Creador y Rebelde (Man the Creator and Rebel), which envelopes the cupola ceiling, and El Pueblo y sus Falsos Líderes (The People and Their False Leaders), which covers the back wall of the stage.
Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace)
Built in 1774, this stately government building — located in the historic city center — is open to the public and is noteworthy for its ornate architecture as well as two socialist realist murals by Orozco. The 1937 mural of Miguel Hidalgo, a hero of the Mexican War of Independence, casts a dominant gaze over a giant staircase, with anonymous masses struggling at his feet against communism and fascism. The second mural, in the former congress hall, shows Hidalgo, Mexican president Benito Juarez and other historical figures. For more information about those pictured in the murals, you can visit the state history museum, which is also inside the government palace.
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This UNESCO World Heritage Site, which dates to the early 19th century, once served as a home for orphans, people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. The massive complex features a stunning chapel where, in the early 20th century, Orozco pained a series of frescos on the walls and ceilings, the most famous of which is the 1939 piece called “Man on Fire,” which dramatically caps the ceiling of the main tower.
Where I stayed: I spent several nights at the artsy and modern Hotel Demetria and Casa Alebrijes, Guadalajara’s only gay hotel (although it’s certainly “straight friendly.” Click on each hotel name for my reviews and photos.
More info & Guadalajara travel tips: www.visitguadalajara.com