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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkVallarta Living | Art Talk | January 2008 

Two Artists Influenced by Dali at Dante
email this pageprint this pageemail usClaire and Joe Guarniere - PVNN

On January 16th, Galleria Dante's "Meet the Artists Night" will feature two surreal artists influenced by Salvador Dali - Israel Zzepda and Jonas Gutierrez. To see some of the other art works on display at Galleria Dante, visit
On January 16th, Galleria Dante's "Meet the Artists Night" will feature two surreal artists influenced by Salvador Dali, Israel Zzepda and Jonas Gutierrez. Come welcome these two Guadalajara artists to Vallarta, while enjoying cocktails from 6 to 10 pm.

For personal reasons, this will be our last evening show of the 2008 season. We WILL be open our regular hours Monday through Friday. Stop by to see the twenty new works that recently arrived by master Oscar Capeche from Chile.

Also this month: Peter Spataro will be offering a painting workshop starting on January 17th and running 5 days. Please email him at Peterspataroart(at) for more information.

Cherie Sibley will be painting in the gallery on January 18th, 21st and 24th and in February on the 18th, 20th and 22nd. Come watch her work and look for her latest pelican painting. Brad Smith, will be arriving soon and he will also be painting on site at the gallery from late January to mid-March.

Be sure to stop by Galleria Dante on January 16th from 6-10 pm for our last "Meet the Artists Night" of the 2008 season, featuring:

Israel Zzepda
One often asks, how can he be so productive? His paintings are so detailed, filled with meaning and symbolism. As Israel begins to explain his canvases, the crowds around him grow, until the room is full of people eager to hear more. He is soft spoken, humble, but oh so disciplined.

He is quoted as saying that part of the reason he is so productive and uninhibited, is that even as a young man, he was never told he could not paint. His family was religious, but he was never discouraged to paint what was in his heart and soul.

Israel was born in 1971 in Guadalajara. He studied painting at a very early age, collectors are surprised to see such technique and maturity in someone so young. They are also shocked by his quiet, gentle manners, as they would expect him to be of a stronger temperament, possibly even a troubled soul. There is a sensitivity, an innocence, as well as a great strength in his paintings.

He was a full time art teacher at the age of 19, so has influenced many young artists, including various members of his own family who are aspiring artists. Surrealism, magic realism at itís best. Over the past few years many of his works have touched on social, political, spiritual, as well as artistic themes.

Zzepda is not afraid to express himself. His works often contain a focal point that is crisp and clear as if a divine light was shining only on that one spot or from within, the rest of the painting under water or in a spiritual realm. He attempts to interpret our human condition, our spiritual dualities.

The texture also plays an important role in the idealized handling of the human figure. He can paint portraits and photo realism, but sacrifices a little of the perfection of the human figure, in hopes of revealing the interior of himself. "We are all good and bad, we construct and we destroy, we are of light and somewhat dark, journeying daily through the streets of the planet."

In 1993, Israel received 1st place National in drawing in Mexico City. This season he also produced life-size sculptures in a form of paper mache Ė these statues stop people in their tracks as they pass by the gallery. His paintings are a must to see - and to hear in his own words makes you appreciate his talent. An English translator will be on hand to translate for Israel.

Jonas Gutierrez
This self-taught sculptor has exhibited at Galleria Dante for over 10 years. He has often worked in mixed media, for which he always received much acclaim, so when the idea came to gift a sculpture to the city, he wanted it to be something from the heart Ė "Don Come Piedras."

Jonas started by collecting beach stones to use in his sculptures; he would spend days looking for the right stone to fit the idea in his head, and has now graduated to obsidian. Dali once said: "If you ask me what I mean, I cannot answer, but if you donít ask me, I can answer." Some of the works show the fusion of two genetically different bodies, united in a harmonious dance of sensuous shimmer.

Gutierrez deals with the forced duality in which we live, life and death. His images reflect the anxiety with which humans cling to life, also portrayed as a rock, hard and rough, however, we donít want to let go even if itís edges cut the skin of our hands and body.

"I work to express my feelings. My pieces reflect feelings." If that one portrays a man eating rocks, what he is eating is his feelings. "Isnít it true that there are emotions as hard and rough as rocks? Isnít it true that we have to swallow them? Such is life!" says the artist.

The ingenious, the gross, the square, the round, everything fits into Jonasí human dimension, and of course, in it, all the complexity of the emotions fit. Jonas says that his sculptures are not realistic, neither are they caricatures. They are pieces that intend to show the darker side of human beings while presenting them as amiable, as if not wanting to be taken seriously.

"They may resemble surrealism," says Jonas, "because I donít like to show everything openly. Surrealism gives me the opportunity to navigate through the work." A face will appear in the bronze - is it the artist signing more than just his name into the wax?

Open Mon-Fri from 10 am to 5 pm, Galeria Dante is located at Basilio Badillo #269 in Puerto Vallarta's Romantic Zone. For more information, call (322) 222-2477, or send an email to info(at) To see some of the art work on display at Galeria Dante, visit

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