Conner Museum exhibit features vibrant Mexican calendar art

John E. Conner Museum - 04/18/18 - 05/24/18

Contact: Julie Navejar or 361-593-2590

Beautiful señoritas and dashing caballeros are among the images currently on display at the John E. Conner Museum on the campus of Texas A&M University-Kingsville in the exhibit Mexican Calendar Art. The show features 34 works of art from the Backal Family Collection that will be on display through Thursday, May 24. Admission is free.

Art from the Backal Family Collection convey an idealistic vision of the beauty and culture of Old Mexico as depicted in calendars distributed by Mexican companies from the 1930s through the 1960s.

Before the era when stock photography was used on calendars, Mexican printing firms such as Enseñanza Objectiva, Litografía Latina and Galas de México employed professional artists to create original paintings that were reproduced on calendars distributed by major companies.

Jesús de la Helguera, Eduardo Cataño, Demetrio Llordén Fernandez and José Bribiesca Ruvalcaba were among the more recognized artists, all of whom are featured in this exhibit. Once an artist had painted a suitable work, it was reproduced as a lithograph and included in a standard calendar layout.

Salesmen employed by the printing firms would visit various corporations and offer a selection of calendars that could be personalized with their corporate name. Each year, companies would then give these calendars to their distributors to be given to their best customers.

After the year expired, people would often clip the images from the calendars and continue to use them to decorate their homes. Some of the images, like Jesús de la Helguera’s dying Aztec, became iconic symbols of Mexican culture. Art critics decried such works for their idealized imagery and focus on European rather than Mexican standards of beauty, however, the images remained beloved by the Mexican public.

Because these works utilized traditional Mexican themes and incorporated elements of the indigenous peoples, they became catalysts for the later Chicano art movement.

The Conner Museum is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 361-593-2599.