Austin Artists Capture Enchantment of San Miguel de Allende

Austin Artists Capture Enchantment of San Miguel de Allende

By Gail Sneden

Tucked away in a valley in Central Mexico lies a Spanish colonial town, San Miguel de Allende, a place with a rich visual, cultural and religious heritage dating back to the 1500s. In 2008 it was declared a World Heritage site. Today it is a place where families congregate around Plaza Allende, the main garden or Jardin Principal, and walk the narrow cobblestone streets as they go about their everyday activities alongside a small ex-patriot community of artists, musicians, writers and world travelers.

Four long-time Austin artists, Ghislaine Barillaud, Martha Kull, Mozelle Marks and Gail Sneden traveled to San Miguel de Allende in fall 2016 to paint and to experience the area for themselves.

Many months later they continue to reflect on the visit and to translate their unique impressions of the city and its people into their art through drawings, paintings and photographs. The exhibition, “Escape to San Miguel” is an amalgam of the visions, training and techniques of these four diverse artists.

“Escape to San Miguel de Allende” will be on view at JGallery from May 23 to July 16, 2018. Join the Visual Arts League Wednesday, June 6, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. for an evening of light refreshments and remarks by the artists.

The Artists and Their Work
Ghislaine Barillaud, originally from Paris, France, is an abstract painter whose inspiration frequently comes from her world travels. She approaches her work in a playful manner, experimenting with form, color and various mediums to capture the immediacy of the moment.

Barillaud relies on her emotional response and mood to direct the movement of the brush across the canvas. The spontaneity of the moment often causes unexpected pressures on the tip of the brush and her choice of colors. Some brush strokes may disappear quickly under yet another layer of paint while others remain distinctively fixed on the canvas.

Martha Kull spent the first 30 years of her career as an engineer, computer programmer and project manager turning in retirement to the pursuit of her childhood dream - being a visual artist.

Kull enjoys exploring and creating in multiple media - be it pastels, colored pencils, alcohol oils, collage or acrylic paints. Throughout her life, Martha has interpreted her world in relation to colors. Her artistic vision of San Miguel is based on her reaction to its sensual colors and textures.

Mozelle Marks started her art career at the University of Texas, where she graduated with an emphasis in fine arts, architecture and interior design. Her paintings today are traditional in style, incorporating both landscape and architectural features. At times, the unexpected appears in her work as animals with distinct personalities find their way onto the canvas. At other times she takes us on a journey recalling feelings of a meaningful time and place brought to life with vibrant colors and local details. Three decades of visiting San Miguel have provided a wealth of inspiration for Marks’ art.

Gail Sneden migrated from being a lifelong avocational artist to being a dedicated painter a little more than 10 years ago. Her work is figurative and modern in style referencing the real world.

Using the basic elements of design, line, color, light, volume, texture and perspective she creates vignettes, faces and the spirit of real people as they react to the world around them.

For Sneden, the final product is just part of the equation. The creative process itself, getting into the “zone” while moving forward through a series of conscious decisions, is almost always as important as the finished product. ■

JGallery will hold a reception for Escape to San Miguel June 6 at 7 p.m. at the JCC, 7300 Hart Lane. For more info, visit

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