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Giving Back – A Story of Art and Love – Guest Blogger – Marie Plakos

November 20, 2011


This October was a special month for giving back for John and me.  The story starts in 1965 when I met the famous Mexican artist, Roberto Montenegro, who at this time was in his late 70’s.  I was introduced to him by John who had earlier put together a large exhibit of Montenegro’s work when he was a cultural officer for the American Embassy in Mexico.   Roberto and I had an immediate connection. We became very close friends.  John and I bought many paintings from the artist and Roberto gave me many pieces of his work.   When Roberto Montenegro passed away 3 years later, our collection of his work had grown to 104 pieces.   We  lovingly lived with the art for all of these years as it adorned our home.   Knowing that this was an important collection of contemporary Mexican art, we debated for many years as to where the collection should end up.  I said that it belonged in Mexico and John agreed. Last December we flew to Mexico City and met with the owner of a museum that specializes in collecting the art of Mexico of the period of the early and mid 20th century  Immediately, it was apparent that this is where our collection should be. The details were worked out, and on October 22, 2011, the collection was exhibited in Mexico City as a permanent donation.   John and I flew to Mexico City to take part in the opening events of the collection.  It was very emotional for me as my portrait that had been painted by Montenegro was the feature of the exhibit.  It was  accompanied by a gigantic photograph of me having my portrait  painted which was taken by John. The special part of this story is that we learned that this was the first time that an American had donated a collection of important Mexican art back to Mexico.  The American Embassy anointed our donation by backing the publishing of the catalogue of the exhibit.  We were interviewed by the Embassy and several television stations in Mexico.  If you go to YouTube and put in “Donation, John and Marie Plakos”  there are 4 videos of the exhibit event.

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