Summer 2010

Issue eleven

Tropical storm Agatha, which passed over Central American the end of May, did not reach the level of a hurricane but the rain caused as much, and in many cases more, destruction as did Hurricanes Mitch and Stan. Honduras and El Salvador were hit hard, but the center of the storm passed over highland Guatemala. Stan caused part of a mountain to collapse on Panabaj, a community outside of Santiago Atitlan, killing over 80 people, but the destruction was not as widespread as that caused by Agatha. Agatha caused oversaturated mountainsides to collapse everywhere in highland Guatemala. The photo at right, taken by Mira Talbot-Pope near her home just outside of San Pedro la Laguna, shows the destruction cause by such a collapse. A mountain of mud and water suddenly came down during the night after days of rain. Eight houses were totally destroyed and one 10 year old girl was killed. The death toll could have been greater if alert Pedranos had not warned people living in that area to evacuate because the mountainside above gave indications that it was about to give way.

Agatha also leveled the entire corn crop. Maiz is the staple of the Maya diet and the rural Maya campesinos of Guatemala depend on the corn that they grow themselves for the tortillas that they eat with every meal. When I talked to artist Pedro Rafael Gonzalez Chavajay, he described people crying when they saw what had happened to their fields.


Joseph Johnston


In this issue:

Arte Maya Postcards
2011 Arte Maya Calendar
How to contribute to Agatha relief

  Arte Maya postcards

When I first started out for a couple of years, I made notecards by hand gluing photographs of the paintings to paper. When I analyzed the cost, I realized I was making less than $1 an hour doing this work. A couple of years ago, I printed up two postcards, and although they came out better than the postcards of the Maya artwork that is currently being sold in Guatemala, I was not happy with how they looked. In May I ordered as a test the printing of one postcard of a painting by Paula Nicho Cumes. Because I was very happy with the result, I had five more postcards of paintings by different artists printed up. They can be purchased in sets that include all six of the images.

  2011 arte Maya Calendar

 The 2011 Arte Maya calendar is coming from the printer this week. Paintings by the twelve artists in this years calendar represent the best art being produced by self-taught Maya artists from Guatemala. Traditionally the paintings depict the customs and lives of the Maya. Several artists, including brothers Mario and Pedro Rafael Gonzalez of San Pedro, and Margarito Chex of Comalapa, have become well know because they have honed the quality of their painting within the genre.  Others, including Paula Nicho Cumes of Comalapa and Juan Fermin Gonzalez of San Pedro, have chosen to expand the way the artist looks at the Maya world and culture. In each case what distinguishes their art is that it springs directly out of the artist's experience of the Maya culture.

The twelve different artists included this year are Vicenta Puzul de Gonzalez, Margarito Chex Icú, Diego Isaias Hernandez Mendez, Mario Gonzalez Chavajay, Matias Gonzalez Chavajay, Juan Fermin Gonzalez Morales, Julian Coche Mendoza, Maria Teodora Mendez de Gonzalez, Pedro Rafael Gonzalez Chavajay, Antonio Vasquez Yojcom, Paula Nicho Cumes, and Emilio Gonzalez Morales.



How to contribute to Agatha Relief

Arte Maya Tz'utuhil is coordinating with Casa Rosario Spanish School to get funds and assistance delivered to those who need it most. I have set up a page on the Casa Rosario website for Agatha contributions, either by credit card or by Paypal. Everyone who contributes $20 or more will get a packet of the six postcards shown above. 100% of the money will get to the people. Arte Maya will pay for all expenses in the US including the feed paid to the banks for the credit card, as well as the postcards. Casa Rosario will pay all expenses in the distribution. Every US dollar is equal to about eight Guatemalan quetzales so a small contirbution in US dollars pays for considerably more.