There is nothing like good art and good humor to raise your spirits! Rafael Mareyna has a knack for combining both with a twinkle in his eye. One can see that humor at Casa Valencia Art Gallery in Liberty Station where his acrylic paintings are being shown in a month long exhibit.

The exhibit is called, “24 Years Apart”, and it is a joint effort with his daughter, Becky Guttin, who is displaying several colorful sculptures to go with his paintings. For Mareyna, it is also the rekindling of an old passion.

Mareyna, nicknamed Fallo [pronounced FAYO], was born in the state of Veracruz in 1930. His parents were Polish Jews who arrived in Mexico in 1924. They moved to Mexico City a few years later.

As a young boy, he attracted his teacher’s attention with his natural ability to draw. He began to paint with oil and continued his passion for the next 20 years or so, exhibiting in different galleries in Mexico City, Monterrey and he even had a show in New York City while he was in high school. He studied with Bardasano,a Spanish artist known for his classical paintings. He also studied under the renowned Canadian born, Jewish Mexican painter, Arnold Belkin, who later became a good friend.

However, it is difficult to make a living as an artist and as was the social norm for Jews in Mexico at that time, he followed a more traditional path. He married Dora [Dorita] Sorokin, had two children, and needed to provide for his family, so he left art to pursue a more lucrative career.

For almost 30 years, he provided very well for his family, opening up a successful brokerage firm in 1966, called Bursamex, S.A. He retired in 1992. He did not paint for all those years and his art was put on the back burner.

However, he did live it vicariously through his gifted daughter, Becky, who delighted him with her various talents growing up, playing the piano and the guitar, and studying ballet. She inherited his love of art and grew up among the artist friends that he socialized with.

As an adult, she went on to become a well known artist and sculptress in Mexico, Israel, and the United States. She was also the conduit for helping her father rekindle his old passion.

In 1998, Rafael and his family moved to La Jolla to begin a new chapter in life, and he began to feel pangs for the art he had left behind.  In 2005, his daughter invited him to come and work with her in her workshop.  Not only that, unbeknownst to him and much to his surprise and delight, she had kept all of his old art furniture, including his easel, so he was able to dive right back in.

Finally, ten years later, in October, 2015, he had a small one man show at the San Diego Art gallery in La Jolla. His second show is the current one at Casa Valencia.

His painting style is abstract, colorful, and playful, with pieces called Brain Selfie, E=MC2, Albert Who? [with a picture of Albert Einstein in the middle], Sperms, and Kabbalah.

One can also see how Guttin inherited her father’s talent and twinkle. Both possess a Bohemian spirit [as seen in Guttin’s work and the delicate and intricate tattoo she has going up her arm] and a down to earth sense of family and duty with most Shabbat dinners being held every Friday at Guttin’s home. This exhibit has been a labor of love for them both, and an exhilarating experience for the spry 86 year old.

The exhibit will continue at Casa Valencia in Liberty Station until June 30th.

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Miriam [Mimi] Pollack was born in Chicago, but moved to Mexico City when she was five years old. She lived and worked in Mexico for over 20 years. She currently resides in San Diego and worked as an ESL instructor at Grossmont College and San Diego Community College Continuing Education until June 2018. She writes for various local publications.