Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fernando Castro Pacheco Feb 2011

"They're inviting us over to their house,"
my husband whispered covering the mouthpiece
on the payphone.
"Get me a pen!"
We had been in Yucatán for a couple of months and had spent that morning
examining the murals in the Governor's Palace
on the main plaza of the sultry city of Mérida.

After Yucatán comida under the portales,
we found a small art museum with a disorienting string of 
colonial rooms 
that seemed to go on forever.

There were elaborately embroidered Mayan dresses and 
huipils on display,
as well as paintings, carvings, sculptures, prints,
and drawings.

We were drawn to one artist over and over again,
room after room, medium after medium.

As we left, my  husband noticed a small office with a man
working at his desk.
We knocked and were cordially invited in.
My husband handed him a piece of paper
with the name of the artist jotted down
and asked if he knew anything about this artist.

What did we know—it was the artist of international
prominence who painted the murals in the
Palace of the Governors on the plaza.

"Sí, Señor, el artista Fernando Castro Pacheco.
Aquí es su número de teléfono,
si te gusta, puedes llamarlo."
(Yes, sir, the artist is Fernando Castro Pacheco.
Here is his phone number, if you like you can call him.)

Next thing we knew, we were being whisked by taxi
the few blocks to his home.

His gracious wife invited us in and made us a cold liquado.
Fernando was still working out on his treadmill
and would join us shortly.
We chatted, eagerly awaiting his arrival.

He arrived!

He was handsome, regal, down-to-earth, 
witty, gracious and—incredibly sexy.
I was instantly smitten.
He was also 80.

We hit it off. 
My husband spoke Spanish fluently and we had no trouble communicating.
He and his wife couldn't have been more charming.
We laughed and responded to their curiosities
about our lives and asked about his.
He took us to his studios and showed us what was laying around
and what he was working on.
La Dueña gave us a tour of the home which was studded
with his magnificent artwork.

He never tried to sell us a thing, but we pried a book 
and a print for my husband's 50th birthday present
from them before leaving.

La Escalara 1956

We lost track of time and were leaving Mexico
in the morning,
so when the sun started to go down
we excused ourselves and I asked if I
could take a photo of them to remember the day.
Of course, they said.

 On our way to the gate we walked through the garden.
They pointed out their favorite flowers
and Fernando picked a handful of jasmine
blossoms and put them in my  hand.
I kept them until they turned to dust.

To this day, that afternoon in Mérida remains
one of the highlights of my life.
And, I am still hopelessly smitten with
Fernando Castro Pacheco.

Flash forward about 15 years. . .
. . .the husband is now 'ex'. . .
Don Fernando continues to live in Mérida
and should be about 94 years young.

I hope to get back to see him again.


  1. I know his work well, although after living in Mérida for seven years, I don't believe I have run into him. Thanks for this story.

    Sounds like you're due for a visit to Yucatán.

  2. Marc, do you see his work available for purchase around Mérida? I bet he doesn't get out much any more, but he was a fitness buff and he might be in good shape for his age.

    I bet I could find their house again, it was close to the plaza. One of those elegant old places. Yes, time to go back to Mérida.

    Let me know if you hear anything about him. Thanks.

  3. What a fortunate meeting! Their picture portrays them as such an elegant, timeless pair.

  4. I will keep my eyes and ears open, and will let you know what I find out.

  5. Hi, my name is Bryan and I am very interested in Pacheco's work. I am a graduate student in art history and I would love to be able to get in contact with Senor Pacheco. Do you have any idea how to get into contact with him? By the way, I love your story above; I just love it when serendipitous moments occur!

  6. Hi Bryan! Thanks for your comment. Yes, indeed it was a magical day. Me too.

    I'm told he is still alive, but I don't know for sure, and he would be quite elderly by now. He may, however, still be in good shape.

    I do not have their phone number any longer and I doubt they have email. You would have to go there. If you do, go to the museum on the plaza and ask the curator for directions to the house or the phone number.

    Good luck, certainly would be worth a trip to the Yucatan! Let me know how it goes.

  7. I just returned from Merida for the first visit. The 27 murals that he painted, on display, at the Govenor's Palace blew me away!While searching to find more, anything, about him I came across your blog. What a great story of your visit! His "art story" of the Yucatan people had me in tears, it was so dynamic. His huge anatomy portrayals are just incredible. He is now on my list of favorite artists.

  8. How nice of you to write! Thank you so much for your comment, you made my day.

    What an artist, no? He's one of my favorite artists too.

    The house was filled with seashells, sculptures, paintings, carvings, birds, flowers and plants, and charm. It was a lovely time.