Cofrades de Atitlán
(Officials of the Cofradías in Santiago Atitlán)
23" x 19", oil on canvas.
Rafael Gonzalez y Gonzalez
This painting has an interesting history. Because Rafael Gonzalez was the first oil painter to come out of San Pedro, I was looking for an example of his best work to buy for Arte Maya Tz'utuhil. It seemed increasing unlikely that I would find one because Rafael was old and sick, and had stopped painting, At this time I was interviewing all the artists in San Pedro and San Juan to record their histories. One family with three artists was on the verge of opening a gallery. They had been saving their paintings for a year and had a few paintings by other artists which they had collected over the years. Among them was this painting by Rafael. I spoke to Rafael's grandson, painter Pedro Rafael Gonzalez Chavajay, about it. He said it was not possible. This family could not afford a painting by his grandfather, but a visit verified the originality of the painting. The next day Pedro Rafael told me how he surmised this family got the painting. For the festival day of San Pedro all the residents were expected to contribute. Athough Rafael had been living in nearby Chicacao for many years, he was still considered to be a Pedrano. Rafael was always short on money, so he usually donated several of his paintings to be sold or used as prizes. One year around fifteen years before, he had student who was from San Pedro, and so for the festival he sent this youth with three paintings on the trip over the mountain to San Pedro . Only two arrived, and no one knew what had happened to the other. 'Well," Pedro Rafael pointed out to me, "the artist who sold you this painting was, at the time of the disappearance, a drinking buddy of the student who was entrusted to bring the paintings to San Pedro."