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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkVallarta Living | Art Talk 

Religious Icon Art Exhibit at Galleria Dante, Dec. 12th

December 9, 2014

Gallerķa Dante, the largest and most eclectic art gallery in Puerto Vallarta, is located at Basilio Badillo #269. For more information, call (322) 222-2477, or send an email to info(at)galleriadante.com.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - On Friday, December 12th from 6-10 pm, during this week's South Side Shuffle, a cocktail reception will open a very special exhibit featuring religious icons by artists Mary Jane Miller and Valentin Gomez at Puerto Vallarta's largest fine art gallery, Galleria Dante.


What better to exhibit on a Mexican religious holiday, but religious icons! The Byzantine Church in Constantinople elevated icons as a way of illustrating and teaching church doctrine through biblical image. The ordinary population of the day found very few books and they were expensive, besides, most people could not read.

The iconographer paints with traditional egg tempera; egg yolk + water mixed with million year old stone ground into a fine dust called earth pigments. Egg yolk represents the raw potential for life and the earth pigment, "eternity," mixed together to create divine images.

Miller is an experienced iconographer having worked for ten years in egg tempura and 23k gold leaf. The technique dates back to the Egyptian mummy portraiture; earth pigments suspended in hot wax used during the first century evolved into the use of dry pigments and egg yolk. Miller sought out the expertise of her life-long partner, Valentin Gomez, to elaborate on what had become a fascination with all techniques involved in iconography throughout history.

She is challenged and fascinated with the icons' intrinsic and mystical elements. The discipline of iconography allows one to make contact with something deeper than what you're painting. The faces reflect the somber, the challenged, and the martyred.


At the age of 40, Miller innocently attended an icon writing workshop with an orthodox priest. That first introduction swept her up like a wave. From then on, she was driven to reproduce these ancient images. She started iconography as a prayer form, a means to come closer to God and her real self. Every brush stroke, every color choice, and every swirl of paint in the dish is mystery connected to a set of canonical rules. For Miller, the past 20 years of painting icons has been a refuge, a place to retreat and find God and the unknown waiting.

You won't find a pair of artists like this anywhere in the world. Both of them began their current work at the same time, not knowing one another and in different countries. It was chance that brought them together as friends and fellow adventurers in techniques nearly lost in today's world. The term "repousse" refers to the hammering of silver/pewter into flat sheets then engraving and tooling it on both sides to create form and designs used to "cover" the precious icon image. The technique evolved and was widely utilized by the 8th century.

By the 16th century, it had reached its glory, incorporating gold, jewels, pearly inlay and filigree. Gomez is the master of repousse! These two partners have worked collaboratively since August 2000. The quality of work you see here is just the beginning of what they hope will long endure in the archives of contemporary work created in this millennium.

On Thursday, December 11th, at 6 pm in Di Vino Dante Wine Cellar, Mary Jane and Valentin will be giving a 30 minute slide presentation on Icons, followed by 15 mins of questions and a preview of the show that's scheduled to take place from 6 to 10 pm on Friday, December 12th at Galleria Dante.

Open Mon-Fri from 10 am-5 pm, or by appointment during the Summer months, Galleria 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)galleriadante.com.

Click HERE to learn more about Galleria Dante.