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Bill Megrail & Israel Zzepda at Galleria Dante

November 26, 2014

Galleria Dante will have a cocktail exhibition and opening reception for Bill Megrail and Israel Zzepda on Friday, November 28, from 6-10 pm, as part of the Southside Shuffle in Old Town Puerto Vallarta.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Exhibitions by artists Bill Megrail and Israel Zzepda open at Galleria Dante on Friday, November 28th, as part of this week's Vallarta Southside Shuffle. Stop by to meet the artists and enjoy complimentary cocktails from 6-10 pm.

Bill Megrail

"There is a handful of artists we highly respect, and Bill Megrail is one of those artists," says Galleria Dante owner, Joe Guarniere. "His long career and his talent speak for themselves, and he often exclaims 'My life has always been art!' Almost everything Bill does is enthusiastic."

A summer school arts program sparked his interest in art, which led to his liberation from a West Virginia coal mining town. "I always supported myself with my talent," Bill explains. After winning a scholarship to the New York School of Contemporary Art at the age of 17, he went on to earn a bachelor's degree in design at San Jose State University followed by graduate school in painting at San Francisco State University.

Although his career has morphed from interior design for commercial retailers to oil painting, remodeling homes and curating a museum, "It's all the same, putting objects in space beautifully... paying attention to color, form, composition," he says. Bill was very successful at commercial interior design for stores like Sak's Fifth Ave and Macy's until age 37. His inspiration is "totally from nature, anything from a home garden to the jungle." For Bill, painting is "meditation in action. It heightens your ability to see. Lush jungle settings with tropical plants, flowers and fruits, country landscapes occasionally dotted with livestock, and a few cityscapes all draw one into the paintings.

When Bill was in his 30's he came to Puerto Vallarta from San Francisco for the first time for a two-week vacation and stayed five months, later returning for good. He loved the weather and "in the 70's art was part of the (Vallarta) culture." He divided his time between San Miguel de Allende and Vallarta, later choosing our port city for good. "It was all about the art and its appreciation," he says. Since coming to the Puerto Vallarta area in the 70's he has become a well-known name in the Mexican art community.

And he's been supporting community arts programs ever since, like Puerto Vallarta's Cultural Center and the Peter Gray Art Museum, where he was curator for 5 years. Under his direction, the museum facilitated a community activity for local children who were given a tour, introduced to various forms of art through demonstrations, and then produced a painting of their own.

During his illustrious 30-plus year artistic career in Mexico, he has had showings at many galleries nationally, in the United States and London. His paintings have been printed in such publications as Mexicana Airline "In-Flight" Magazine (2 covers) and the Insider Guide to Mexico. In the 90's he was invited to Southeast Asia on an art buying trip as an advisor. In 2004, the town of Damburg, Holland invited Bill to participate in the International Painters' Week. He was also published in Architectural Digest December 2008 Exclusive Issue: Inside Private Homes. The client not only purchased many of Bill's paintings, they also commissioned him to do a large painting for a focal point in their Villa.

To Bill there was never any other kind of life. "If you're an artist, what else can you do? There's no choice. Anything else makes me absolutely insane. I can't go to business meetings. If nobody ever bought another painting, I'd still paint."

Israel Zzepda

At only 44, Israel Zzepda has already been a professional artist for more than half his life. He has been painting and drawing for more than 36 years, but also sculpts. Israel's body of work is remarkably large given his age, but when you consider he became an apprentice at the age of 15 and a full-time art teacher at the age of 19, it isn't so surprising. He taught both art and fashion illustration for more than 13 years, and, as a teacher, he has influenced many young artists, including several members of his own family.

There is a sensitivity, innocence and refined discipline about Israel. His work explores religious, spiritual, sexual and existential realms, reflecting truths and questioning established thinking, and he is not afraid to express himself. "The artist is a reflection of daily life. I want to be a chronicle of my time," says Zzepda, who seeks to reflect his own unique style and honesty in all of his work.

In his approach of the human figure, texture plays an extremely important role. Instead of painting photo-realistic portraits, he sacrifices the perfection of the human figure in hopes of revealing part of the shared human experience that resides within him. "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." Israel's imaginative capacity is, perhaps, the most dominant striking feature of his work. The viewer cannot help but be drawn in and intrigued by the thematic contents of his paintings. Some of his works appear to be recreating ambiguous and mysterious worlds often made up of strange, desolate environments while others display serene, sometimes humorous, eroticism. He also embraces notoriously religious topics, as well as ontological and metaphysical subjects.

Israel has also painted more than 1000 meters of murals, both public and private, in Cancun, Uruapan, Michoacán and Jalisco. In addition, he completed 7 murals in Sardinia, Italy, in 2011. He also participated in a collective show in Turin, Italy, on March 15th, 2014. He is also working on a new conceptual art project that delves into human and social justice in the setting of globalized power and its effects on ecological consciousness and human rights. Every 6 months the gallery receives new works that over reach our wildest expectations. His latest work, represents a new cycle of creative production and personal growth for Israel, and we are all very anxious to see where it leads.

The new work this season shows a variation in the support the color receives. It is an industrial plastic material derived from what is known as PVC, or macocel.. It is a very noble material, with good consistency, while its structure allows for the use of engraving tools, as well as being a great receptor for oil and enamel pigments. Also, because of its origin in the plastics family, it is very durable, given that today's plastics are the most difficult to be degraded by nature.

"Knowing the noble characteristics of this support, it occurred to me to make a fusion between the drawing, the texture in bas relief and the oils. Visual ideas have a common conceptual aspect, the geometry, like a chess board, as a symbol of the duality in the claroscuro of the human soul. Wisdom and instinct in spiritual cohabitation that does not explain the progress and human growth without such duality. The universe, known and unknown, is the vital space where we discover ourselves through suffering, happiness, loss and gain. There can be no certainty without uncertainty or light without the comparison of darkness. We are in this daily cycle of self-destruction and self-reinvention. All ideas had the challenge of constructing themselves in the experience of memory without using a single model," Israel says.

Due to the fact that these paintings are 3 dimensional, photos don't do them justice, so be sure to stop by Gallería Dante this Friday while you are out doing the Southside Shuffle.

While you are there, be sure to check out Di Vino Dante Wine & Tapas Bar, a new addition to the old hacienda that houses Galleria Dante and the gallery's sculpture garden. This chic wine and tapas bar is open Monday through Saturday from 2:00 to 11:00 pm.

Open Mon-Fri from 10 am-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)

Click HERE to learn more about Galleria Dante.