Apr 23, 2018


When curator / artist Alberto Lenz approached me about being in an exhibition of artist chairs, I was at once delighted. Eight artists, eight chairs, all chairs being identical at the start, handcrafted by a carpenter hired by Lenz. Even more exciting was the prospect that this would be the first of a few exhibitions with the same type of chairs, by many different artists, in the year to come. I hopped on the bandwagon with a full-on YES.

All chairs began like this, made of pine with a
traditional rustic shape.
Querying him about where the exhibition would take place, I realized that part of the puzzle had not yet been formulated or formalized. So naturally, I offered him La Huipilista Artspace. It's a perfect place for something out of the normal range of galleries here in San Miguel de Allende, and he immediately agreed. So, here we are, 2 weeks into the exhibition TAKE A CHAIR, and it's a total artistic success. Works by Ri Anderson, Federico Correo, Erica Daborn, Alejandra Mendoza, Gene Johnson and Linda Soberman are accompanied by those of Lenz and yours truly. Intriguing and complex, or simple and understated, all are out of the ordinary to the eyes of most gallery visitors in San Miguel, and I am personally excited to be part of a burgeoning scene of inspired and inspiring alternative venues. All chairs are for sale, so come for a visit, enjoy the exhibition,and if you like, TAKE A CHAIR home with you.

l-r, Daborn, Lenz, Johnson
TAKE A CHAIR continues through May 6. La Huipilista Artspace is open Thursday
 through Saturday, noon to 5 pm. 

Mar 30, 2018


ArtSpace Residency is a new program open to women artists to live, create and exhibit in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. A single space, “a room of your own”, it invites mid-career visual or literary artists whose work is inspired by or references textiles, garments, recycled materials and/or work that fuses text and image. ArtSpace is affiliated with La Huipilista Artspace, an artist-owned gallery just a three block walk from the central jardin in this magical pueblo that Travel and Leisure named “Best City in the World.”
All work is self-directed, length of stay is up to 4 weeks, cost is $600. This fee includes private bedroom with private bath, indoor workspace, outdoor workspace, kitchen, 24 hr. studio access. Exhibition for visual artists allowed during one- month residency only. Readings, presentations and/or workshops all to be discussed for any disciplines. 
Artists are required to provide their own materials; there’s an art supply store two blocks from the ArtSpace. Also within those two blocks are grocery stores, organic markets and cafes and restaurants. Definitely not a remote, tranquil residency, this one lands you right in the middle of one of the liveliest, most creative and art-filled scenes outside of Mexico City. La Huipilista Artspace is the first public gallery space in Colonia Guadalupe, officially designated as “el Distrito del Arte”… the Arts District of San Miguel.
Residency awards are chosen by gallery owner Lena Bartula, artist for 40 years and curator / gallery director on and off for 25 years. Applications accepted now for June – Sept. 2018. Must include current resume, at least two references, project description or idea for your work while here, plus 8-10 jpgs of relevant work completed in the last 2 years. All communications should be sent by email to lenabartula@gmail.com

Visitors at an exhibition opening night.
Artist in Residence exhibition / January
Bedroom with private bath, worktable, closet, wifi.

Bedroom is adjacent to workspace on patio.

Patio workspace, table is just outside the bedroom door.



Feb 12, 2018


Barcelona-based artist in residence at the Artspace, Cynthia Fusillo's majorly popular exhibition is in its last week.... it's hard to imagine how much busier we could all be, but here we are. "The Bird in Me Wants to Sing" opened on Jan. 27 and has been mesmerizing the crowds ever since. 

Bringing work from her six-month artist residency at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel, Fusillo has created and re-created installations since arriving. Paper dresses, shoes, hats, drawings and paintings were collaged on the wall, representing the breadth and depth of experimentation there.  Now they live side by side with works that she created here in San Miguel, from natural, organic and recycled materials found, borrowed or otherwise given with love. 

Fusillo herself refers to her work as autobiographical, because “I use my own body as a model or measure for the dresses and figures. I then ¨collage¨ my experiences on them combining several techniques. I like to work with materials that have been already used and I get so involved in a process such as sewing, burning, printing so as not to think so much, somewhat like a meditation. My goal is to shake up those ideas we have about a particular material or form or its use and take it apart so as to create something new and surprising."

Closing party for this show is Sun. Feb.18, at 4:00. The artist talk will begin at 4:30; there is some seating but space is limited. Come early to hear her speak, or come later and say goodbye. Either way, we'll send her off with enough fanfare to entice her back again. 

Dec 29, 2017


As have most of her fans, I've always loved Frida Kahlo's self portrait of her two sides: the indigenous side and her European side. You can read all about the meaning, the analysis, the critic reviews of Las Dos Fridas and still walk away wishing you knew more. 
Las Dos Fridas, Frida Kahlo, 1939
Many artists over the years have replicated this fascinating scenario in their own visionary ways and I decided, while working on dolls for DOLL THERAPY, that it was time to imagine my own version. My Las Dos Frida Barbies is a small theatrical box / shrine with Barbies holding hands, hearts of milagros instead of blood, her sewing scissors, an original Barbie wedding dress, and a Tejuana huipil and skirt hand-sewn by La Huipilista herself. The shrine is set in a rosa mexicana nicho with some of Frida's favorite things: colorful flowers, paint tubes, brushes, mirror and turpentine bucket. 
Las Dos Frida Barbies/ installation by Lena Bartula, 2017

Las Dos Frida Barbies, Lena Bartula, 2017
And now to share with you some of the wild and varied Las Dos Fridas I found on the internet last week. I apologize that I don't have the names of the artists who created them because well, sometimes they just aren't available. If you know the artists, feel free to share with me and our audience. It feels rather exciting and enjoyable to be in league with all these other artists who found themselves entranced and inspired by this same image. 

por Humberto Spindola

Nov 29, 2017


“Doll Therapy”

“A doll is one of the most intimate expressions possible of the human spirit….a commentary on human society, the little world of dolldom reflecting the great, for everything that happens in the great world is reflected in the little. A dollographer, when he studies a doll, studies also people, a social scene; and sometimes there may be only a doll to tell the story.”  Marguerite Young

            The American novelist who scripted this quote was a doll collector and creative writing instructor.  One of her students, Edward Swift, grew up around rag dolls lovingly made by his grandmother, but he confesses “they were something mysterious, not cute or precious.” His work in this exhibition, bundled paper-mache creatures that frolic, haunt, twist and turn, hint at the story of his relationship with those childhood dolls. Swift sees them as people bewildered by the complexities of life, yet with a sense of humor about their journey. Some seem to be waving a flag, others appear to sing; all are thought-provoking.

Edward Swift

            Multidisciplinary and experimental artist Gabriela Buenrostro Solórzano, known in San Miguel as Gaby Black, employs recycled materials such as discarded toys, doll parts and furniture. Embellished and swaddled with yarn, baubles and beads, her hybrid babies are highly textured and colorful. Inspired by natural and organic forms, Black’s work is infused with a sense of the unknown, unexpected and unexplained.
Gaby Black

            A member of Philadelphia’s Dumpster Divers, Ellen Benson says “I look at a bottlecap on the street and see a little hat; my old paintbrushes look like legs.” Her doll people incorporate plastic bags, recycled paper, old doll clothes, toys and other found objects. A natural born storyteller, she sees cigar boxes as houses in which to create a narrative. Benson has agoal of creating 1000 figures; she’s made about 600 so far.
Ellen Benson

            When asked “why dolls?’, Carole Clement proclaims “because I can!” Her dolls, as in her other art, tell her what they want. Some require lengthy layering while others want to be kissed fast and furious. Her work is an attempt to uncover, tame and embrace the spirit of those dolls with mindfulness and nonattachment. Like a midwife, she’s there to listen, massage, or get out of the way so that their mystery can unfold. 
Carole Clement

As for myself, I'm back to repurposing Barbie dolls. She’s a blank canvas, open to endless possibilities, ready for visual messages different from the ones given to the children who collect her and dress her up. Barbie has grown up somewhat since she was invented, but the perfection and proportions still convey an impossible ideal. My dolls, like my other work, play in the realm of social, political and commentary.  
Lena Bartula

All the dolls in this exhibition will be for sale, and the show continues through January 9, 2018.  La Huipilista Artspace is participating in Guadalup/Arte December Art Crawl, a new event I organized with some artist neighbors. All of us live and work in Guadalupe, and all will have different hours that day. 
Participating venues will provide maps of locations and times of events.  

Nov 5, 2017


Every year for Dia de los Muertos, I invite a small group of friends to help me construct an altar for this ancient tradition of honoring those who came before us. Altars at this time of year are called "ofrendas," on which we offer food, drink, sugar skulls, etc. to the visiting souls. 
Dia de los Muertos ofrenda 2017

Everyone brings photos of family and friends who are no longer with us, and share our memories and stories about them. Often there is a certain focus or dedication, and this year, I chose to use the huipil "Behind the Label" to remember those in the garment industry who have lost their lives in the work of making the clothes we wear. 

Tribute to the garment workers of the world.

Fashion Revolution, a movement begun
after collapse of Rana Plaza

In the photo below, I chose to remember and honor Petronila, or Doña P as she is lovingly called. I met her in Antigua a few years ago, and many of my huipiles and cortes are from her collection. She left us this year, and joins that spiritual legacy of women in the garment industry who beautify us and our world. 


Then yesterday morning, when I walked into the room, I heard a voice say "Release me" and though I don't know which one said it, I knew it was time to disassemble the ofrenda. And so it is. Until next year.