Inside Fundación de Artistas’ dream world

The Fundación de Artistas occupies a grand casona on Calle 55 in Mérida's Centro Histórico.
The Fundación de Artistas occupies a grand casona on Calle 55 in Mérida's Centro Histórico.
The Fundación de Artistas occupies a grand casona on Calle 55 in Mérida’s Centro Histórico.

For years, an abandoned casona hid in plain sight on busy Calle 55, but a creative artistic-minded group saw its potential. Today, the space has been restored and opened to the public, its grand spaces suitable for large-scale and expressive art installations. We spoke to Indira Londoño, the director of the fledgling Fundación de Artistas in Santa Lucia, about the newest enterprise to bring life to the neighborhood.

YELinterview-1114webHow did the Fundación begin, and was it difficult to get it started? Please tell me about the founders.

The foundation began as a philanthropic idea of two Yucatan-based companies, Coqui Coqui Residencias & Spa and Hacienda Montaecristo, to create a new haven within Mérida for artistic souls. These two companies united in a new venture to form a nonprofit organization that focuses on creating a unique platform for diverse forms of artistic expressions.

Our founders are Nicolas Malleville, Francesca Bonato, Jacopo Janniello Ravagnan and Julio Matias Gonzalez, and they are all actively involved on Fundación de Artistas’ board of directors.

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The journey to officially opening our doors to the public was challenging, but we are now focusing on what lies ahead for Fundación de Artistas.

Where are you from? Where did you go to school, how long have you been in Mérida?

Indira Londoño. Photo: Sipse
Indira Londoño. Photo: Sipse

I’m originally from the United States, specifically from New York City, but my nationality is Colombian. I received a bachelor’s degree from Pace University and a graduate degree from Seton Hall University.

My experience in New York City focused in the nonprofit sector and I recently moved to Mexico approximately six months ago.

How did you find this amazing property on Calle 55? Why did you choose to be there? 

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Nicolas Malleville is one of our founders. He has Coqui Coqui Residencia next door to the foundation and he was intrigued by the abandoned space. The founders chose the location because it’s a beautiful property that inspires creativity. The very essence of the foundation evokes inspiration, and as an organization that focuses on artistic expression, we are honored to call this our base.

How is the gallery funded? Do you have official nonprofit status?

Fundación de Artistas is a legal nonprofit organization that is currently funded by our founders, public donations and the sale of the artwork. We are also currently planning fundraisers and applying for government/private grants to help us fund our mission.

Do you operate under a guiding philosophy? What sort of art will be accepted into the gallery, and what is the process for an artist to be considered?

Fundación de Artistas is interested in showcasing artistic expressions from a wide range of artistic souls at a national and international level. We will equally invite well-known artists and young and emerging artists to exhibit with Fundación de Artistas.

The abandoned casona before it was rescued and turned into a gallery space. Photo from Google Streetview.
The abandoned casona before it was rescued and turned into a gallery space. Photo from Google Streetview.

Our exhibitions and collaborations focus on providing a platform for unique and thought-provoking pieces. We want the exhibitions to ignite a conversation and inspire new creations.

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Artists interested in future collaborations are encouraged to email a proposal for consideration to ilondono@fundaciondeartistas.org. We also strongly suggest the artists visit the foundation and personally speak with the director to learn more about our programs and collaborations.

Classroom space to inspire the artistic soul. Photo: Instagram
Classroom space to inspire the artistic soul. Photo: Instagram

What is the best way for visitors to stay aware of future exhibits and events?

The best way for visitors to stay informed is to visit our website www.fundaciondeartistas.org and follow us on Instagram. We post updates and information on a weekly basis.

All the artwork showcased is for sale and a portion of the sale returns to the foundation to help us carry out our mission.

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The Fundación de Artistas gallery is on Calle 55, between Calle 62 and 64. An easy walk from Santa Lucia Park, the facility features exhibition spaces, common areas, an indoor garden, classroom spaces and a cafeteria. It is open Tuesday-Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free.

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