Friday, May 22, 2015

From Russia with love

Octavio Paz Lozano - poet & diplomat
What do a classically handsome Mexican poet-diplomat, a wild-haired Russian sculptor, and a beautiful Russian actress have in common?
Isla Mujeres – of course.
If you think the connection is a bit nebulous, well, not really as a full seven percent of our blog readers live in Russia, plus there are four flights a week direct from Moscow to Cancun.

Marthy Vargas, Agapito Magana, Pototsky, Natasha
However, that's not the only connection. Recently the well-known Russian sculptor, Gregory Pototsky, offered the municipality of Isla Mujeres a bronze bust commemorating the life of the world renowned Mexican poet-diplomat, Octavio Paz Lozano. Born in 1954 in the Kurgan region of Russia, Gregory Pototsky has more than 100 bronze portraits (busts) installed in over 30 countries around the world, including several in the USA, Mexico, China, Turkey, and two in our home country of Canada.
N Duran, M Trejo, Adm.Fierro, M Vargas, A Magana, Pototsky
His artistic contribution for Isla Mujeres was installed on a plinth facing the Caribbean Sea near the attractive Isla 33 Resort & Villas on the east-side of Isla Mujeres. Striking a thoughtful pose, the bronze head gazes out over the Caribbean Sea, reportedly a huge source of inspiration for the poet. The inauguration was celebrated in a spicy fusion of languages: Gregory Pototsky's impassioned tribute to Mexico and Octavio Paz was translated into English by the actress Natasha, and replied to in Spanish by our Municipal Presidente, Agapito Magaňa Sanchez. It was a bit confusing, but everyone got the gist of the sentiments.
Octavio Paz - gazing out over the Caribbean Sea
Octavio Paz, on the other hand, was born in 1914 in a suburb of Mexico City, and passed away at the age of 84 in same city. He entered the Mexican Diplomatic services in 1945. During his career as a diplomat he was stationed in exotic locations including Paris France, Tokyo Japan, and Geneva Switzerland, all the while continuing to publish his poems and essays. In 1962 he was named as Mexico's ambassador to India.
Fervent about human rights, and openly critical of the then governing party of Mexico, Octavio Paz is considered to be one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century, and the greatest Hispanic poet of all time. In 1990 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature: "By a passionate writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensory intelligence and humanistic integrity."
Gregory Pototsky, Agapito Magana, Marthy Vargas de Magana
Which got me to wondering about the real Octavio Paz. His biography page on Wikipedia dishes out the dry as dust details: born, lived, married, worked and died. Yawn! 
But what of the flesh and blood man. Did he like to dance? Was he passionate about good food, and red wine, and expensive tequila? Well educated and well travelled he would have been an entertaining dinner guest, or a perhaps romantic entanglement for well-to-do socialites. Those are the stories that would be fun to read. This could require further research.
Jose Cauich - from Nico's Restaurante (in background)
But back to the present day. As the hot afternoon sun started its slide into early evening the bust was unveiled with a flourish of cloth and enthusiastic clapping. 
Then two tray loads of wine - compliments of Joe Mendez of Isla 33 Resort & Villas - were delivered to the assembled guests by employees of Nico's Restaurante, Jose Cauich and Juan-Jose Pech. 
Salud: Octavio Paz, Gregory Pototsky, and the citizens of Isla Mujeres.
Next time you meander along the edge of the turquoise sea take a minute to enjoy the new statue and think of the Isla Mujeres Mexican-Russian Connection. 

(A special thank you to Ruben Perez, the Director of Culture on Isla Mujeres, for informing us about the event.)

Hasta Luego
Lynda & Lawrie


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3 comments:

Ann said...

Great to be able to read about the happenings on Isla in your blog! Will make a point of stopping to see this when we are back there--6 long months from now!

Lynda Lock said...

Nice comment from a blog reader:

Dear Lynda,
What a lovely surprise and great gift for Isla. I hope the statue it will inspire young students to read his works and stimulate interest in the literature of Mexico. The sculpture itself should be an inspiration for some aspiring sculptors.......it is a win for the Island. Thank you to all involved.

Personally, I am anxious to see the sculpture. I studied under Octavio Paz for an entire year when I was a graduate student in Spanish literature at the Univ. of Pittsburgh where he was a visiting Mellon Professor in 1970.

I know that face well and he was an amazing person very humble and often he and his wife invited students to their house since classes were very small and they knew few people in the city. He was not as famous then outside of the literary community but we lowly students were in awe.....

We all felt very privileged. Sorry I missed this event as I am still in the USA.
Thanks, Hettie

Gailmarie7 said...

Wonderful story about the sculpture and its subject, the great Octavio Paz. Can't wait to see it and visit Nico's. See you soon!