Since we decided to spend time here for the next couple of years--about 50% of my time living here, the rest at home in the USA--I signed up for art school. I am working on a dissertation, I have been teaching college for almost 10 years. Tired of theory, I want to work with my hands!
The City government has art schools here, one is the School of Plastic Arts--in which one gets the equivalent of an AA--and the more artisanal Municipal School of Art at the old Palacio de Correos, which as it name indicates, is truly a palace, built in the late 1930s, and which used to host the Post Office. Now it is Centro Metropolitano de Cultura. Basically, a free space for artists, a free school of art.
I'm going to have to talk about ghosts at this point (again!) because people keep asking me, "Have you encountered any of the ghosts?" The arc pictured above, they say, is haunted. Actually, all of the huge, wide corridors are supposed to be haunted. I don't know who would haunt the building or why, but from what I know about ghost stories here, I wouldn't be surprised it's a "woman in white" ('cause everywhere I go here, places are haunted by a "headless nun" or a "woman dressed in white"). I think this says more about the local collective unconscious than about any real paranormal experience.
Anyhow, the building is supposed to be haunted and many seem to believe it. The building is not that old and it has always been a post office. Still, it makes the place more romantic, alluring and mysterious. It does seem of a period older than it really is, as well.
So, whatever, lets just say that the place is haunted. Lets just say! Myself, not a big believer in ghosts and, not to discount my friends' and acquaintances ghostly experiences, but I am sure that most stories have an explanation grounded in real world phenomena (perhaps electricity?)
What I do like is that when the weather is nice, students are taken to the corridors, which tend to face open gardens and other open spaces. The floors, ceilings, every single area of the building is beautifully detailed with woodwork and ceramic tiles (see picture of kid with cello). The place is always very lively with young students of all ages as well as adults and teenagers. I especially love to watch kids learning stuff such as break dance or chess! Talk about learning old and new.
The art school operates mostly free or based on small fees (like $4 a month), the instructors are all renowned and well-established artists, and it caters to the well-off and the poor--but mostly makes sure it is accessible to the humble--and the teaching is really good. The pedagogical methodology is more hands-on and artisanal than academic. There aren't really any theory or history of art courses taught there. They do house the School of Folkloric Dance, a Drama school, ballet, choral, the Municipal School of Painting, the Municipal School of Sculpture (and the yearly student expos are amazing), the Experimental Printmaking workshop and many other arts. However, for theoretical courses, one would have to go to the University.
This works for me right now. I just want to learn to work with my hands and that, I do with great gusto. Plus, it is within walking distance to our inn (www.qualityguate.com) and apartment.
All printmaking instructors belong to the design art collective La Torana ; they've all won many important awards, and the ambiance in class is rich in art, culture and humor. I enjoy my classmates, the work, the exposure to other artists and to progressive political views. Often older, famous artists keep dropping by to chat with my instructors!!! (sooo cool). In the background, while we work, not only do we listen to the artists' conversation but also to students practicing their musical instruments and the the choral class practicing Bach, Telemann, and other works.
Okay, so we also listen to the latest rock! One cannot live from Classical music alone. It is all art. And I like the un-stuffy crowd there. Guatemalan society is way too conservative, socially and politically---think the USA in the 1950s!--and one can feel quite claustrophobic sometimes. If I didn't have art school and books, I think I wouldn't be able to survive here, as beautiful and exciting as this country is.
59 minutes ago