A young vaquero wearing bright chaps and his charro hat rides past the porticos in downtown San Miguel. A street dog watches, ready to move out of the way, if necessary. A young woman balances precariously on a stool as she reaches to hang the last bright dress over an arched entryway festooned with colorful clothing. We watch as a young woman swings her tennis racquet at a tense moment in a game which we glimpse for just an instant through an arched stone doorway.

These and other vivid and memorable San Miguel moments have been captured in oils by Neal Smith-Willow. His inaugural show at Galeria Izamal opens with a public reception on Saturday, June 17, from 6 to 8 pm. Galeria Izamal is downtown at Mesones 80, next door to the Angela Peralta Theater. The gallery is newly re-painted and refurbished.

Contact Neal Smith-Willow

Neal Smith-Willow is an artist in the painterly-realism school of Degas, Eakins, and Singer-Sargent. His credentials are solid: studies at the Art Students League, NYC, The Ringling School of Art, Sarasota, and The Instituto Allende, San Miguel, where he has a MFA, with studies under James Pinto in the early 1970s. He has taught art on the university level as well.

He is a story-teller in paint. His pictures are not sentimental, yearning for an imaginary lost past. Rather, he captures images of daily life which are quickly gone, yet which stick in his mind (and ours), and somehow seem iconic of the time and place. He has no need to distort or exaggerate; his colors are handsome and his brushwork is sure, unobtrusive, and beautiful.

Smith-Willow has been a painter all his life. He knew what his calling was from an early age, and he has been true to it, with all its inevitable ups and downs. “The premise of my work is to record my experiences—filtered through sight, smell and touch—to create images of fleeting moments so that they are never lost,” he says.