A blog about architectural tiles, terra cotta and other ceramic surfaces, architectural glass and ornamentation in and around New York.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Café Nicholson and Its Baroque Tile Decor: the Sevillian Tile Style in New York

323 East 58th Street, Manhattan
(Photo, https://commercialobserver.com/2014/07/

For amost five decades from the early 1950s until it closed in 1999 the building at 323 East 58th Street, alongside the entry ramp to the 59th Street Bridge in Manhattan, housed the Café Nicholson. The Café Nicholson was first opened (at a nearby location) in 1948/49 by John Nicolson[1]
and his two partners, Edna Lewis[2], who would become a world-famous chef, and Karl Bissinger[3], a well-known, post-war photographer. 
Café Nicholson soon became a restaurant and hang-out for artists, writers, performing artists and political luminaries.

"[While...] Nicholson was the Barnum of their social set, presiding with a parrot named Lolita on his shoulder[...in the café,] Bissinger, who served the cafe as an early business partner and a sometimes gardener and host, made a living curating social tableaus for magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar."(John T. Edge, "Debts of Pleasure", Oxford American, Issue 82, September 16, 2013;   https://web.archive.org/web/20131005060601/ http://www.oxfordamerican.org/articles/2013/sep/16/local-fare-debts-pleasure/)

[In 2015 I met a woman who was a recent owner of 323 East 58th Street. She showed me some interior photos of the Café Nicholson, which had been decorated with mirrors and tile panels in baroque splendor by Nicholson[4], who had a reputation as an artistic designer of department store windows, antiques dealer and interior decorator. 

Three views of the interior of Café Nicholson from the scrapbook.

Sometime in the early 2000s, a previous owner of the building destroyed the tilework in the front room of the restaurant, and trashed the tiles. The remaining tiles, however, had been saved by my new friend, who had the tiles carefully removed and cataloged by her staff and placed in storage in Queens.

From the Dominguez Catálogo de Azulejos No 1, a catalog published in 1930. The factory could create many border variations on these panels with other tiles.

Another panel from Catálogo de Azulejos No 1 that is very similar to tile panels from Café Nicholson.  

Tiles and tile panels in storage.

I was invited to view, but not photograph, the stored tiles, and I would hear from her a few times over the ensuing years until the summer of the Covid quarantine. At that time I received emails containing photos of the restaurant and stored tiles and scans of her scrapbook and research notes. Much of the information and photos in this article comes from those notes and scrapbook.]

The acquisition of the tiles, as related by filmmaker Bailey Barash--who produced a documentary about Edna Lewis, "Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Pie", is an interesting story. In 1958 Nicholson was invited to San Juan, Puerto Rico by the head of tourist development who wanted him to move there and relocate Café Nicholson to Old San Juan. Nicholson decided to remain in New York, but then spent time searching the island for antiques and decorative elements for some of his clients. A plumber who Nicolson met took him to an attic in an old building. "There they found hand painted drawings of different tiles that were very fashionable in the 1900s. Along with the drawings was a large shipment of pristine, exquisitely painted tiles. The bill of lading[5], which they found, said [...the tiles] were made in Seville between 1890 and 1902.  Johnnie was able to buy the tiles for ten cents a piece. He shipped them back to New York, and they became the basis of the look you see here at Café Nicholson."

The backs of a number of the tiles were marked with a "D" within a triangle within concentric circles which had raised writing: "CEDOLESA/MADE IN SPAIN". This was the company logo of Eloy Dominguez Veiga of Manises, Spain,[6] the founder of Ceramica Dominguez de Levante S.A.**  (http://www.ipc.org.es/centro_documentacion/catalogoteca/catalogo.CH-01.0119.html)

Another of this company's marks was a "D" within a triangle within a single circle.

(From www.todocoleccion.net)

[**According to Mario Baeck, doctor in de kunstwetenschappen Universiteit Gent, the tiles "marked Cedolesa date without any doubt from after 1924 when the firm took this name. So the bill referring to around 1900 cannot be correct!"]

In December 2017 I posted "The Sevillian tile style: Catalogo de Azulejos de Estilo Sevillano" on this blog. If you compare the tile designs in the catalog that is reproduced in that article with the designs in the Dominguez Catalogs Nos. 1 and 2, you will see many similarities in style: the heavy use of grutescos--consisting "of the combination of plant elements ('foliages', garlands), vessels, cornucopias, pananoplias, human and teriomorphic figures ('bichas', centaurs, satyrs, putti), fantastic animals and mythological beings ('sabandijas', 'chimeras'), mascarones, bucráneos, etc., which are capriciously related and fill in...space [profusely] (horror vacui) in symmetrical compositions"[7]--as well as the use of bright colors, usually on cuerda seca and cuenca tiles[8].

By the early twentieth century the "Sevillian Tile Style" had become very popular and had spread to other regions of Spain. Had the tiles been made in Seville or just shipped from there? Since the tiles are marked with the Ceramica Dominguez logo, and there were no Ceramica Dominguez ceramic factories in Seville, was the bill of lading incorrect somehow or for other tiles? We'll never know.


1. "...Mr. Nicholson was born John Bulica on Sept. 5, 1916, in St. Louis to immigrant parents from Romania. He later adopted the surname of a favorite uncle. His father, Nicholas, ran a small restaurant, the Cafe Lafayette. His mother, the former Constance Cordista, was a homemaker.

"He had a troubled childhood. A constant truant, he dropped out of high school and went to work as an errand boy at the Stix, Baer & Fuller department store, picking up decorating knowledge that he applied when he opened his own design and furniture store. From time to time he visited relatives in Manhattan, where he worked during Christmastime at Lord & Taylor.
He was drafted in 1941 but was exempted from military service... .

"...Mr. Nicholson, an antiques dealer and interior designer, opened the first Café Nicholson in 1948 on 58th Street near Third Avenue, near where he and his romantic partner, the photographer Karl Bissinger, ran an antiques store. At the time, it was a neighborhood of cheap brownstones and photographers’ studios.

"Inspired by the Caffè Greco in Rome, he planned to offer coffee and pastries, but the chef Edna Lewis, a self-taught cook from Virginia and a close friend, convinced him that a full-fledged restaurant was a better idea. He offered her a place behind the stove and a 50-50 partnership in the business, giving her her first exposure in New York. She would go on to write cookbooks that made her one of America’s foremost exponents of traditional Southern cuisine.

"...'Until Café Nicholson, there were only two kinds of restaurants in New York: checked tablecloth places serving spaghetti and meatballs or velvet-banquette places like Le Pavillon,' the Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar editor Babs Simpson told Vanity Fair in 1999. 'In a way, Johnny created the first theme park.'

"...By the end of the 1970s, Mr. Nicholson’s attention had waned. He began traveling frequently, closing the restaurant for months at a time. By this time it had been on East 58th Street for about a decade [sic], in the former sculpture studio of Jo Davidson, just off the entry ramp to the upper level of the Queensboro Bridge.

"The cafe took a bow in the Woody Allen film 'Bullets Over Broadway' in 1994. But five years later, Mr. Nicholson, who leaves no immediate survivors, closed it, putting the final punctuation mark on a vanished age.

“'You went to my restaurant because it was extraordinary, beautiful, with very good food and a very different experience,' Mr. Nicholson said in 2013 in 'The Luminous Years: Karl Bissinger and the New Bohemians,' an as-yet-unfinished documentary by Catherine Johnson. 'You went there to be with your friends.'”
(William Grimes, "Johnny Nicholson, Whose Midtown Cafe Drew the ‘New Bohemians,’ Dies at 99", The New York Times, August 8, 2016; https://www.nytimes.com/ 2016/08/09/dining/ johnny-nicholson-whose-manhattan-cafe-attracted-new-bohemian-crowd-dies-at-99.html)

 2. Edna Lewis (1916-2006)  

("A Black History Moment: Edna Lewis-The Grand Dame of Southern Cooking," she wired, February 13, 2011)
(Mary Rourke, "Edna Lewis, 89; Chef Drew on Family's History in Reviving Southern Cuisine," Los Angeles Times Obituaries, February 14, 2006.)

3. "...Mr. Bissinger was born in 1914 in Cincinnati, where he began studying art at the Cincinnati Art Museum while in high school. He then moved to Manhattan and enrolled in the Art Students League, where he studied painting.

"After decorating windows for Lord & Taylor in the 1940s, he found work as a stylist for the Condé Nast photographic studios, where he worked with, and befriended, several of the staff photographers, including Irving Penn, George Hoyningen-Huene, John Rawlings and Cecil Beaton. Richard Avedon, one of several friends with whom Mr. Bissinger shared a cottage on Fire Island, encouraged him to take his own pictures, lending him cameras and his studio for his first test photographs. His first subjects were Avedon’s wife, Doe, and the writer James Baldwin.

"Lillian Bassman, the art director for Hearst magazines, gave Mr. Bissinger his first assignment, for the newly created Junior Bazaar. He soon began doing portraits and the occasional fashion shoot for Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Theater Arts and Town & Country, gravitating toward painters, poets and writers as subjects.

“'I was drawn to portraits of artists for the obvious reason,' he said. 'Their world was more interesting to me than the fashion scene.'

"In the early 1950s Mr. Bissinger’s interests swung to politics, and he gradually abandoned photography. A onetime member of the Communist Party, he became active in several peace organizations. In the early 1960s, at a demonstration against air-raid drills, he met Judith Malina and Julian Beck, the founders of the Living Theater, and for several years took up his camera again to record their performances. As the Vietnam War heated up, however, he devoted nearly all his time to working as a draft counselor at the Greenwich Village Peace Center. Later, as a member of the War Resisters League, he crusaded for nuclear disarmament.

"Mr. Bissinger took many photographs at the Cafe Nicholson, the restaurant on East 58th Street he had created with Johnny Nicholson, a fellow window-dresser from Lord & Taylor. A favorite with artists and a launching pad for the chef Edna Lewis, it made a natural setting for a photograph illustrating an article in the first issue of Flair, 'The New Bohemians.'

“'I do not know what effect the picture has on those who now look at it, but I think it perfectly evokes an optimistic time in our history that we’re not apt to see again soon,' [Gore] Vidal wrote in Smithsonian magazine last year. 'So study this picture, and see what optimistic people looked like as they began what they thought would be lifelong careers, and in some cases indeed lasted as we lost more and more of a country that is no country without Karl Bissinger to make art of it.'” (William Grimes, "Karl Bissinger, Portraitist, Dies at 94", The New York Times, Nov. 25, 2008;  https://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/25/arts/design/25bissinger.html)

4. In a review of the newly opened "Nicholson" Restaurant at 323 E. 58th Street in 2000, New York Times columnist, William Grimes, described the interior of Café Nicholson:

"In a New York restaurant scene defined by cozy neighborhood joints and imposing temples of haute cuisine, Cafe Nicholson stood alone and apart, a theme restaurant whose only theme was its owner's idiosyncratic style.

"[...]Nicholson occupies a peculiar spot, perched at the edge of the entrance to the upper roadway of the Queensboro Bridge. It looks like a guardhouse, and it's not much larger. You enter through a narrow, open-air passageway, walk down five steps, and enter what feels like a private home. Past a tiny bar and a lounge, the dining room awaits.

"It is a very distinctive room. Mr. Nicholson's decor was once described as Spanish-Portuguese belle epoque, and under the new owner and chef, Patrick Woodside, working with the architect Alexander Gorlin, things have become only more complex. The cane-work settees with their silk throw pillows remain. So do the brightly colored Spanish wall tiles with a satyr motif, the pastel panels filled with cupids, and the stenciled ceiling border depicting lily pads and lizards."

(William Grimes, "RESTAURANTS; Curiouser And Curiouser, Chapter 2", The New York Times, June 21, 2000;  https://www.nytimes.com/2000/06/21/dining/restaurants-curiouser-and-curiouser-chapter-2.html)

5. The bill of lading has since disappeared.

La Guardia (Galicia) 00.00.1985
Catoira (Pontevedra), 00.00.1959
Creator of the modern tile school.
A Galician who industrialized this manufacturing.

[Eloy Domínguez Veiga] was born in La Guardia (Galicia) in 1885. His biographer, Juan Manuel González Luengo, says that this man, born into the humble class, was stubborn, but with that stubbornness of those who create, think and work by way of conscience and the vision of the future.

At the age of fifteen, little Eloy, carrying his inner voices as luggage, dreaming distant and unknown roads, and lands to contemplate with his small and deep eyes, gets on a ship and goes to America.

I arrive in Santo Domingo and he is the messenger of a store. He doesn't like that. He believes he can succeed in his homeland, and after two years he returns to Galicia. Relatives place him in a lumber mill. He even manages and creates, but the steam boiler explodes and the factory is destroyed.

He leaves his village again and this time goes to Valencia.

Together with their brother Manuel and Celestino Trigo Pérez, they form a Regular Collective Society. He works for the first time in the rough manufacture of ceramic crafts and at the same time in canned vegetables, but difficulties arise everywhere. This time the economic disaster is due to the collapse of foreign trade.

Young Domínguez sets out for England. There he sells preserves and oranges, but precisely there, in the blonde Albión, as his biographer González Luengo (from which we gather these data) says, he observes the construction and thinks of the tile as an appropriate element to be included in the buildings.

In 1912 I returned to Valencia, and two years later I saw his dreams come true: I worked alone and took the broad cause of his industrial visions. That ceramic factory that only offers handicraft precariousness and reduced limits for exports, turns it into an industry with more production, with a majority realization, with a progressive escalation in exports and in a change from those Moorish kilns to continuous passage kilns. . It begins to open factories in order to comply with the demands of Cuba, Mexico, Florida and California.

It is the first to manufacture decorated tile. Create a factory in Onda and another in Alicante to make thick ceramics, flat tiles, etc.

A disease held him for 8 years in Madrid, but 1936 came and the war held him in his hometown, La Guardia. The factories are in the opposite zone and he is without money. This misfortune does not make a dent in the dynamic Eloy. With the collection of some debts he sets up a factory in Catoria (Pontevedra), until the end of the war, which again takes over his Valencian factories.

He continues his work of creating, and thus the factories of Alcudia de Crespins (Valencia), Inmeca in Madrid and Cedolesa in Barcelona leave. In 1959, says his biographer, when he was preparing to receive a group of collaborators, Eloy Domínguez Veiga died in Catoria.

This is, broadly speaking, the life of this potter who in his tile industries trained those legions of workers and specialists, where other captains arose, who, in turn, created factories and continue, within the norm of the forerunner, the new industry norm, the tile industry.

José Mª Marticorena-Ruiz
Levante, December 3, 1982.

7. A translation of https://es.wikipedia. org/wiki/Grutesco

Examples of grutescos from the Wikipedia article above.

8. “The CUENCA technique required the design to be pressed into the green clay with a mould that left a raised outline, delimiting the areas to be glazed. The tile was then biscuit fired, after which the hollows were filled with coloured glazes and refired.” 

“CUERDA SECA was a technique developed in the Middle East and introduced to Spain in the 15th century in an attempt to solve the problem of combining several colors on a single tile without the glazes bleeding into each other… . CUERDA SECA...may be considered as the negative version of CUENCA. It consists of engraving the design into the clay [while] it is wet, and filling the furrows with a compound of grease and iron oxide. Different colored glazes were them applied. During the firing the greasy lines kept the colours apart and at the same time produced the effect of a relief.” 

(Garry Cruikshank & Eduardo Gonzalez, “A History of Tiles in Spain, Part II, Paradise Lost”, Tile Today, May-July, 1998, p. 74).


Sunday, February 2, 2020

Architectural Murals in Ambato, Ecuador

(Courtesy of Google maps)

I recently spent five weeks visiting friends in the city of Ambato, Ecuador and exploring some of the Andean spine of the country from Mindo, northwest of Quito, to Rio Negro, southeast of Ambato. Notes from these travels and a slideshow of photos I took can be accessed at https://mpadwee-travelsandphotos. weebly.com.

Tungurahua Volcano as seen from a street in Ambato. (All color photos courtesy of Michael Padwee unless otherwise noted.)

In 1949 Ambato was almost completely destroyed by a massive earthquake. In the intervening seventy years Ambato has risen from the rubble in almost quilt-like fashion. The city architecture is very colorful, and many of the new buildings give it a modern feel.

"An Ambato Quilt" (Michael Padwee, 2019)

Since at least the early 1970s local artists have designed wall murals throughout Ambato, and in the past twenty years Ambato's municipal government has actively supported this art work to beautify the city and educate the residents to their history.

Fausto Holguín Vásconez, who had been involved in local and national politics for many years, was one of the earliest artists to decorate walls with tile mosaic murals in the 1970s, and this continued almost until his death in 2015. (Photo from his obituary.)

Part of a Holguín mural dated 1974.

One of a series of tiled columns by Holguín created c. 1974.

Holguín's son, Fausto, who has also designed wall murals in Ambato, 

One of a series of mosaic murals by the son of Fausto Holguín.

said that "My father told the story of Ambato through his murals... ."(1) Many of Holguín's murals are historical--they tell the story of Ecuador's Indigenous peoples, the Spanish conquest and colonial rule, and Ecuador's independence movement.

The "credits" for Ambateños Ilustres as part of the overall mural.

"Ambatenõs Ilustres" along Av. Victor Hugo. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

One of Holguin's blocks-long murals, titled "Ambateños Ilustres", was created on the Avenida Indoamerica and Av. Victor Hugo from 2007-2010. 

In a letter to the editor of the newspaper, La Hora, in 2010, Holguín explains the mural to his friend, the mayor of Ambato, Fernando Callejas:

"To the Mayor of Ambato 

Dear colleague and friend:

With regard to the claim for having incorporated your name and face in the mural that I am making in the Av. Indoamerica without your authorization, for the consideration and respect that I have for you, I want to extend [my] criteria that I briefly expounded to you by phone.

Those of us who do public art always assume an immense responsibility, because our work, with its virtues and defects, is left to the judgment of all citizens to be recognized by some and vilified by others.

In my particular case I assumed a greater challenge in deciding that in some of my murals the portraits of some illustrious ambateños are recorded. The first difficulty I faced was of a technical nature, because making a ceramic face is really difficult, and I also had the need to try to do it well out of respect for those people and the city, within my artistic and conceptual limitations.

But the most important commitment has been the choice of those who in my modest understanding should be in those murals. 
What I was trying to do is recover the historical and intellectual values ​​of a group of [Ambatanians] whose historical contribution to the human and productive development of this Province has been formidable and, yet, they are not known and less recognized as they deserve. 

Surely many men and women with sufficient merits are missing that have been overlooked, or I did not have their resumes and photographs on time. Maybe at some point I can repair that injustice, but I am convinced that everyone I put in has merits necessary, for example, to educate future generations and make us all proud. 

To choose them objectively I have meditated a lot, seeking to abstract from any political or friendship factor and not allowing personal sympathies or antipathies to weigh in. 

With the modesty that characterizes you, you told me that being a good mayor is not enough merit to be on a mural and that the ostentation and desire for figuration was far from your personality. And in that you are right, Neptalí Sancho, Rodrigo Pachano and Galo Vela are not in the mural of the Sports Coliseum for being good mayors, and you are not in the latter for being as efficient and honest as they are, but [you are in this mural] because of those Administrative qualities that have added a vision of the city and a human quality that the Ambateños have recognized as exemplary. 


Fausto Holguín Vásconez."(2)

Murals of three famous Ambateños artists and literary figures.
Franklin Ballesteros, a well-known Ambateño artist.

Fausto Aníbal Palacios Gavilanes, whose career spanned the fields of literature, culture, and history, among others. (3)

Pablo Balarezo Moncayo (1904 – 1999) was an Ecuadorian poet, journalist and essayist.(4) He was active in the literary and cultural circles of his native city, Ambato, and in those of Quito, Cuenca and Guayaquil. 

Some of the mosaic tile ads to be found as part of this mural.

Another of Fausto Holguín's blocks-long murals can be found along Avenida Atahualpa, near one of Ambato's malls.

A long view of the historical mural. (Courtesy of Google Maps.)

This long mural was created in discrete sections with the help of a community of Ambato artists over a period of a few years. For instance, the segment about Indigenous peoples was created between 2011 and 2014.

The historical sections--those sections that deal with the colonial period and the revolution against Spain--have murals of the men who helped found Ecuador and Ambato.

One section deals with slavery and the liberation of the slaves in Ecuador: 

"Most Afro-Ecuadorians are the descendants of enslaved Africans who originally arrived in Ecuador from the early 16th century. In 1553, the first enslaved Africans reached Ecuador in Quito when a slave ship heading to Peru was stranded off the Ecuadorian coast. The enslaved Africans escaped and established maroon settlements in Esmeraldas, which became a safe haven as many Africans fleeing slave conditions either escaped to there or were forced to live there. Eventually, they started moving from their traditional homeland and were settling everywhere in Ecuador.

"Racism, deeply ingrained from the Spanish colonial era, is still encountered; Afro-Ecuadorians are strongly discriminated against by the mestizo and criollo populations. Poverty is rampant amongst them. Many Afro-Ecuadorians have participated in sports, for instance playing with the Ecuadorian national football team. After slavery was abolished in 1851, Africans became marginalized in Ecuador, dominated by the plantation owners.

"Afro-Ecuadorians live all over the country but there are two places of historic presence which are Esmeraldas province and the Chota Valley along the Mira River in Imbabura province. There is a strong presence in Quito and Guayaquil which have neighborhoods with high Afro-Ecuadorian populations[,...as well as in] Ibarra ."(5)

Another of Ambato's artist-muralists is Franklin Ballesteros, who was depicted by Holguín in his "Ambateños Ilustres" mural.

2001 tile-mosaic mural by Franklin Ballesteros on the Ambato Cultural Center building.

"Franklin Ballesteros González, (born in Ambato in 1940), is a self-taught plastic artist, and has obtained the following awards: First Prize in the salón of Luis A Martínez, Ambato, Ecuador, as well as other awards and recognitions. He has exhibited first in 1952 at the Ecuador School Center, sponsored by the Municipality of Ambato. Since then he has had more than 100 individual exhibitions in many cities of the country... . He is the creator of the Mural that is located outside the building of the House of Ecuadorian Culture, Tungurahua Nucleus. [See above.]

"Spanish critic Antonio de Santiago says of Ballesteros, 'This kind and gentle Franklin prefers to pictorially capture the soul of his villages and landscapes. In them, although the human presence is not seen, he feels the warmth of their proximity. His paintings are calm and peaceful solitudes, full of serene emotion, which resembles almost a mystical contemplation of nature.' He has received excellent reviews by the best art critics, such as Hernán Rodríguez Castelo and the Spaniards Antonio de Santiago and Antonio Manuel Campoy."(6)

Ballesteros' tile mosaic mural depicting one of his own watercolor paintings.

Part of Franklin Ballesteros' watercolor.

"[...Ambato] is referred to as the 'Cradle of the Three Juans' as it was the birthplace of three notable Ecuadorians: Juan María Montalvo Fiallos,  a noted essayist of the 19th century, Juan León Mera Martínez,  the author of the country's national anthem, and Juan Benigno Vela Hervas,  a key figure in the Ecuadorean independence movement."(7)

"The Three Juans" mural by Fausto Holguín. (8) This mural is located on a building in the central business district.

The "Three Juans" are depicted individually and together on a number of murals throughout Ambato. They can be found, for example, on the historical murals of Fausto Holguín.

Juan María Montalvo Fiallos (1832-1889). "A political liberal, Montalvo's beliefs were marked by anti-clericalism and a keen hatred for the two caudillos that ruled Ecuador during his life: Gabriel García Moreno and Ignacio de Veintemilla. ...He was a dedicated champion of democracy and an enemy of the writer Juan León Mera. In the late seventies Juan Montalvo was twice exiled to France, remaining there from 1879 [...until his death.]" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Montalvo) The mural is on the facade of the new Ambato Judicial Complex.
I also came across a three-part trompe l'oiel mural on three walls within a block of each other in Ambato's business center. I have not, however, been able to discover anything about the creator.

Trompe l'oiel painted mural made by Hernán Rivera in 2015.

Encuentro Mosaica Ambato - 2016

A mural designed by French artist, "Mantra" (Yuri Cancel), titled, "La Formule Secrete." The mural is on the back wall of the City and Provincal Library (on Castillo street between Sucre and Cevallos). 

In 2015 the municipal government of Ambato co-sponsored with the Central DOGMA Collective (9) "EMA16" (Encuentro Mosaica Ambato 2016), a wall mural project that would ultimately create seven large, painted murals on buildings and other structural walls throughout Ambato. "The focus or concept [for this project] is one of the most important functions that art has; THE TRANSMISSION OF HOPE."(10)

"[...] artists from several countries arrived in the city: Ledania, Skore 99, Guache and Coxmora from Colombia, Mantra from France, the Liquefied Collective and AlfAlfA from Uruguay, and Zesar Bahamonte from Spain. They joined La Suerte and Vera Primavera, from Ecuador to show how much color can transform a city. José Luis Jácome and Verónica Ibarra[, members of the DOGMA Collective,] were curators and producers of this project that was financed by the Municipality of Ambato."(11)

Murals were first designed and then painted "on the facades of the Provincial Government, before the Judicial Council, Luis A. Martínez Educational Unit, 12 de November Park Bridge, Simón Bolívar College of Arts, El Sagrario savings and credit cooperative and on the street wall of Pérez de Anda..., where, according to curator Verónica Ibarra, the theme of Ambato was used."

"[...]according to curator Verónica Ibarra, [...in order] to inspire the artists, a concept was written about how they [the artists] feel about the city, in addition to how the Ambassadians [Ambateños?] are and their virtues, the icons of the city and the things that make the inhabitants proud.

"[Ibarra] commented that...the city is still the cradle of artists, but that it felt a bit stagnant, 'but with this project it can be shown that the city is also at the vanguard of art '.

"[Ibarra] reported that the cost of the project was $100,000. Thirteen artists worked on the seven murals; the smallest one is 6 m wide by 10 m high and the largest[--Mantra's mural on the Provincial Library--]is 22 m by 37 m."(12)

"For the sociologist Fernando Cerón, the great murals improved the aesthetics of the city since important spaces were used for the works. 'What makes the city alive, is that art has a place and can distract [interest?] locals and visitors.'"(10)

EME16 mural painted on a wall of a traffic bridge bordering the Parque 12 de Noviembre.

While in Ambato, I stayed in a house on Passe Buganvilla, which was two blocks from the EMA16 mural that was painted on a street wall on Calle Perez de Anda.

Mural created for EMA16 by LEDANIA Y SKORE 999 (Colombia) LEDANIA Skore Nueve Nueve Nueve. Photo taken from the video made by Nacion Films. (https://dogmacentral.wordpress.com/ema/) This part of the video was probably filmed from a point across the Ambato River as the entire mural can be seen.

The mural site on Calle Perez de Anda in 2014. (Courtesy of Google Maps.)

These are only a few of the architectural murals that adorn wall spaces throughout Ambato. Other cities in Ecuador, such as Quito, Baños and Guayaquil, and other South American countries, also have traditions of colorful architectural murals, and the movement keeps spreading.
1. La Hora, 22 August 2015; (https://lahora.com.ec/noticia/1101855504/fausto-holgun-dej-su-huella-en-la-ciudad) 

2. A google translation of La Hora, Nov. 17, 2010;  https://lahora.com.ec/noticia/1101049544/home

He was born on April 19, 1929.

Doctor of Jurisprudence from the Central University of Ecuador, in 1955.
Member of the National Academy of History.
Professional journalist by the Ministry of Education and the School of Journalism of the Central University of Ecuador, with 50 years of activity. Historical, traditional, ecological, grammatical articles.
Teaching experience:

Regional Autonomous University of the Andes (UNIANDES), 12 years.

Professional experience:

Free professional practice: Lawyer at the Development Bank, Ministry of Agriculture, Private Institutions, etc., 13 years
Judicial Function, 38 years

Positions held:

Rapporteur Secretary of the Superior Court of Ambato, 4 years.
Third Criminal and Civil Judge of Ambato and Pelileo, 9 years old.
Second Judge of the Civil of Ambato, 4 years.
Fiscal Minister, 1 year.
Minister Judge, 12 years.
Second Notary of Ambato, 8 years.
President of the Superior Court, 4 years (4 periods).
President of the Bar Association, 4 years.
President of the XIII National Assembly of Lawyers.
Member of the National Federation of Lawyers.
President of the House of Culture-Tungurahua Nucleus, 2 years.
President of the Ecuadorian-Tungurahua Athenaeum.
Director of the Festival of fruit and flowers, 6 periods.
President of the Circle of Journalists of Tungurahua.
Editorial of the newspaper El Heraldo, 22 years.
Founding president of the Neighborhood Federation of Ambato.
Fiscal Minister of the Superior Court of Justice of Tungurahua and Pastaza.
Minister Judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Tungurahua and Pastaza.
President of the Superior Court of Justice of Tungurahua and Pastaza.
President of the Tungurahua Bar Association.
Director of the National Federation of Lawyers.
President of the XII Congress of the National Federation of Lawyers.
Co-founder of the National Confederation of Journalists of Ecuador.
Founding professor and professor at the Andean Autonomous University of the Andes.
Professional Journalist, School of Journalism of the Central University.
Founder of the Ecological Association of Tungurahua.

Subjects professed at the Central University:

Constitutional right
Legal and Forensic Idiomatic
Philosophy of Law
Introduction to Law
Law history


He joined as an Honorary Member of the Ecuadorian Academy of Language, in a solemn public session held in Ambato, the City Hall, on August 29, 2019, with the reading of his speech The Word and the Academy, in tribute to the Ecuadorian Academy of Language - Defense and exaltation of the Spanish language; The Director of the Corporation, Dr. Susana Cordero de Espinosa, delivered the welcome speech to the recipient.


Illustrious Municipality of Ambato: Juan Benigno Vela - Journalism
Judicial Merit: National Federation of Lawyers

Historical articles
Articles and conferences on the bicentenary of August 10, Quito, and August 27, Ambato, 1809.


Homeland clean. Song to the Fatherland.
Earth scheme.
You will sing and choose the good one for Hannibal.
I sing to my Mother.
The earthly writings.
Ambato, city of petals and workers. Singing and love story to the city.
Autobiography and confessions of the Ambato river. Or the loneliness and the path of a river.
Ode to the Ambato River in four voices. The stories of singing and telling of a river.
The ambateñiada. (Work staged by the Theater of the Technical University of Ambato, in the Feast of fruit and flowers.
Story of my little Motherland fruit girl.
Primordial song and legend of corn. History and song of corn. Work staged by several Ambato colleges.
Aurora song by Chimborazo.
Aboriginal Father History and elegy.
Intimate and familiar poetry.
Poetry of exaltation to the woman of Ambato, queens of Ambato, Baños, Pelileo, etc.
That can not die. Four words for Pablo Neruda.
My first report on America. The historical and social struggle of the libertarian movements of America. Poetry.
Conferences, essays and articles:

Some unpublished. Others published, or pronounced.

Love and exegesis of an ambateño for Ipiales, land of love and exile of Juan Montalvo.
Pedro Fermín Cevallos.
Singing and praise of the song of the Fatherland. History and tribute to our hymn.
Historical articles about facts and characters of Ambato.
The Miño Naranjo brothers.
Profiles of poetry by Gustavo Egüez.
The boom of Ambassador painters.
Nostalgia. Or the adventures of a traveler in the memory of Ambato. Chronicles and memories.
Other conferences and essays.
Andrés Dalmau, the musician and the man.
Black hell. Demetrio Aguilera Malta.
Recipe for travel. Francisco Aguirre Guarderas.
The harangues Dean Juan Felix Proaño.
Miguel from Santiago.
Augusto Arias
Alberto Enriquez Gallo.
Brief semblance of the garcialorquina work.
García Márquez. Chronicle for a chronicler.
The couplets of Manrique. Brief instance of the Spanish lyric.
Romulo Gallegos.
Walt Whitman
García Márquez.
Gogol His universality El Capote
Wiliam Faulkner Novelist of the deep passions.
Dreams and hopes in the adventure of Columbus.
Albert Camus And the plague.
Alberto Moravia
Luis Pirandelo: Six characters in search of author.
The Crusades.
Carlos Sabat Ercasti.
The disasters of war.
Gonzalo Escudero and his parallelogram.
Beyond hope (Stories).
Law Memorial (Director). Superior Court of Justice of Tungurahua and Pastaza.
Notebooks of Tungurahua (Several numbers). Ecuadorian Culture House. Tungurahua Core (President).
Flag. University Magazine
My neighborhood. Ambato neighborhood newspaper.
Bullets: Twelve volumes
The grammar, you and me. Six volumes"

(A Google translation of http://www.academiaecuatorianade lalengua.org/sr-d-fausto-anibal-palacios-gavilanes/)

4. "Pablo Balarezo Moncayo was born in Ambato, Ecuador, on December 10, 1904, within the family formed by Pedro Pablo Balarezo Franco and Julia Eloísa Moncayo Moreno.

His father, a distinguished educator, trained several generations of Tungurans with the example of his teacher, the wise Brother Miguel. 

Balarezo Moncayo was dedicated to the letters from very early; when a student of the centenary Colegio Bolívar de Ambato founded the magazine Alba Azul. In 1923, at the age of 19 he won a silver medal in a collegiate literature contest. Poetry and immeasurable admiration for the great Ambassador writer Juan Montalvo, were fundamental pillars in his literary life.
In 1928, he won a gold medal at the University Floral Games. In Ambato, he founded and directed the Sol de Domingo and Ambato magazines and, the weekly Feminil and Rincón Nativo.
In Guayaquil, in 1934, he directed the Sunday Literary Supplement of Diario El Universo. In 1945, he won the Floral Games for the Political Independence of Guayaquil where he obtained the Carnation of Silver with the poem Canto al Agua Equatorial.
For two consecutive years he won the poetry contest of the Fiesta de la Lira de Cuenca: in 1945, the Natural Flower with the poem Symphony of Marble and, in 1946, the Golden Arirumba with the poem Symbol and Landscape of the City of Los Poets
In 1964, in the Floral Games of the Feast of Fruits and Flowers in Ambato, he won the Capulí de Oro with the poem Song of Stretched Tenderness.

He was appointed Director of the House of Montalvo in 1966 and, as such, three primary objectives were proposed in tribute to the superbo writer: complete edition of the works of Montalvo, creation of the Order of Montalvo and creation of the Montalvo Chair.

In 1972 he was Director of the National Library.

He [...worked for] Diario Avance de Ambato, in 1981, as an opinion columnist in his columns 'Image of the city and trace of the facts' and 'The helmsman and the wave', in which he showed his admiration for the distinguished Ambassador writer Juan Montalvo, defended his memory and fought the stupidity of two municipal mayors of the city at that time.

He died in the city of Ambato on January 23, 1999.



° Hurricane life
° Apotheosis of a teacher
° Anatema
° Water Symphony
° Symbol and landscape of the city of poets
° The wonder of Ambato
° Song of shivering tenderness
° Montalvo - Documentary Testimony
° Poetry in fullness of the soul"

(A google translation of https://www.facebook.com/pg/Pablo-Balarezo-Moncayo-175514075809241/about/?ref=page_internal)

5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afro-Ecuadorians

6. A Google translation of http://casadelacultura.gob.ec/archivo.php?ar_id=5&li_id=233&title=Ballesteros&palabrasclaves=Ballesteros 

7. https://www.revolvy.com/page/Ambato%2C-Ecuador?cr=1
This website also has a brief history of Ambato from its founding in 1698.


"Born in Ambato on June 28, 1832, Juan León Mera Martínez is widely considered to be the father of Ecuadorian literature. His most famous novel Cumandá, was completed in 1879 and is still taught in schools throughout Ecuador today. It is counted among the great Latin American literature of the 19th century, revealing Juan León Mera’s talent for using the written word in a way that brings a story to life. Through his description of the dense Ecuadorian jungle, the rushing rivers, majestic mountains, fascinating animals and flowers, along with his insight into the power of love that transcends all barriers, this talented author has brought the story of the forbidden love between a young Amazonian woman and the son of a Spanish Dominican friar to countless readers over the years. Through the pages of this novel Mera was appealing for the peace between the indigenous people of Ecuador and the foreigners who had made the land their home. In addition to being a novelist, Juan León Mera was a journalist, critic, politician and satirist. He was also the poet who penned the words of Ecuador’s national anthem. Mera passed away in Ambato, the town of his birth, on December 13, 1894.

"Ecuadorian author and essayist Juan María Montalvo Fiallos was born in Ambato on April 13, 1832. After studying law and philosophy in Quito, he returned to Ambato in 1854 before carrying out diplomatic duties in Italy and France between 1857 and 1859. As an outspoken critic of Gabriel García Moreno and Ignacio de Veintemilla, who he considered to be dictators, Moreno was exiled to Colombia for a period of seven years. His writings were also cited as a reason for the assassination attempt on Moreno. He was later exiled to France, once again for his open criticism of the ruling authorities in Ecuador, and most of his writings were banned in his home country during his lifetime. Montalvo also had a lighter side to his character as was evidenced in his book entitled Capítulos que se le Olvidaron a Cervantes (Chapters Cervantes Forgot) in which he offered an amusing sequel to Don Quixote, the celebrated novel by Spanish playwright Miguel de Cervantes. Juan Montalvo died in Paris, with his body being returned to Ambato where it now rests in a mausoleum.

"Politician and educator, Juan Benigno Vela Hervas was born in Ambato on July 10, 1843. After completing his law degree at the University of Quito, he became an active member of the Liberal Party, fighting for democracy and freedom. As a political legislator he authored and co-authored a number of governmental policies. In 1877 he was appointed in the province of Tungurahua as the inspector of schools, and was known to use his own money in assisting disadvantaged schools. In addition to being a political figure, Juan Benigno also wrote poetry. He passed away in 1920, having been a loyal and consistent advocate for human rights and freedom in his home country of Ecuador." (https://www.ecuador.com/blog/the-renowned-three-juans-of-ambato/)

9. The Central DOGMA Collective is "a cultural platform that generates bridges between artists, civil society and public space; a multi-platform exchange interface; among them the Festival of Vanguardia Festivalfff Music, the VFFF Audiovisual Creation Festival, the GRAFFF Public Art Festival and the Residence for Artists 'Pujinostro'. 

"Web: https://dogmacentral.wordpress.com
Fb: https://www.facebook.com/dogmaec
Twitter: https://twitter.com/dogmaec
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/centraldogmaec

Tania Navarrete & José Luis Jácome
Tel: (+593) 984 888 998 / (+593) 32841392
Email: centraldogma995@gmail.com
Ambato - Ecuador

(quoted from: https://www.facebook.com/dogmaec/)

10. A Google translation of: "Arte urbano proyecta a la mujer indígena", El Comercio17 de febrero de 2017; https://www.elcomercio.com/tendencias/arteurbano-murales-ambato-mujeresindigenas-intercultural.html.

11. A Google translation of: Ga Robles, "7 murales grandes dan colores nuevos a Ambato"; https://radiococoa.com/RC/7-murales-grandes-dan-colores-nuevos-a-ambato/.

12. A Google translation of: "Siete murales reflejan el vivir y costumbres de los ambateños", 16 enero, 2017;  https://radiohuancavilca.com.ec/sociedad/ 2017/01/16/siete-murales-reflejan-vivir-costumbres-los-ambatenos/.



The Tile Heritage Foundation; IRVA Studio

The "Our Beth" Project: Minton Tiles and Bethesda Terrace
read more...   
"Three Photographers--One Family" an exhibit; and the Maison Jamaer in Brussels read more...

"New Discoveries III: A Children's Tile Mural in New Jersey"read more...

"New Resources and Updates: the Shopfront Elegy blog and Jean Nison's tiled furniture"

"Newark, New Jersey Loses Another Architectural Gem: Science High School"

"A Possible Early Sketch for one of Frederick Dana Marsh's Marine Grill Murals" and a new exhibit.

"The Commercial and Personal Art Tiles of Rafael Guastavino, Jr.: Part II"

"The Lower East Side and Bialystoker Landsmanshaftn"

"The Identification of United States Art Tiles" and three new resources

"Tile Advertisements in the Paris Métro" and "SAVED!!! The Empire State Dairy Tile Murals in Brooklyn, New York"

"The Sevillian tile style: Catalogo de Azulejos de Estilo Sevillano"

"Bits and Pieces: Updates for the Lever House, the Kesner Building and 2116 Ditmas Avenue, Brooklyn" and an obituary for Robert Pinart

"The Polychrome Terra Cotta of Childs Restaurants" and the Nottingham Antique Tile Fair

"The Commercial and Personal Art Tiles of Rafael Guastavino, Jr." (Part I)

"Art Deco Commercial Architecture: Montgomery Ward’s Mid-Size Department Stores"

"Tessellations: Islamic Tile Patterns and M.C. Escher"

"Grant's Tomb, the Community and the Gaudi-esque benches of Pedro Silva" AND A request for help

"A Factory As It Might Be" and the 2016 Ortner Preservation Awards
The Atlantic Terra Cotta Company and the Beginnings of Polychrome Terra Cotta Use

Bits and Pieces: The Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and following up on the James N. Gamble House and the Charles Volkmar Overmantle Mural

Art Deco Buildings and Their Lobbies: the Chrysler Building, the Film Center Building and the Kent Garage/Sofia Brothers Storage Warehouse


The Heart of the Park: Bethesda Terrace and its suspended Minton Tile ceiling

A Landmarks hearing was held on July 19, 2016...

Two Restorations: The City Hall Subway Station and the Tweed Courthouse

Egyptian, Moorish and Middle Eastern Ornamentation Used In Art Deco Terra Cotta in New York City, and Empire State Dairy Update
Wall Murals in Brooklyn: A Mini Survey

Inside Prospect Park: The park's Rustic, Classical and other Internal Architecture

Herman Carl Mueller in Titusville and Trenton, New Jersey; A Charles Volkmar Discovery in Clifton, New Jersey

A Book Review and New Discoveries and Updates-II: Jean Nisan, Ceramic Tile Artist

Polychrome Terra Cotta Buildings in Newark, New Jersey

New Discoveries-I: The Tiled House of Jere T. Smith

Introducing the Stained and Dalle de Verre Glass Art of Robert Pinart

Bits and Pieces: Polychrome Terra Cotta- and Tile-Clad Buildings

Socialist and Labor Architecture and Iconography in New York City

Bits and Pieces: Two Mosaics--Hamden, CT and Manchester, NH

The Renaissance Casino and Ballroom Complex in Harlem: Another Tunisian Tile Installation Headed for Demolition

Clement J. Barnhorn and the Rookwood Pottery

The Woolworth Building

The Mosaic Art of Hildreth Meière

Lost Tile Installations: The Tunisian Tiles of the Chemla Family

The Grueby Children's Murals on East 104th Street

The Experimental Lustre Tiles of Rafael Guastavino, Jr.

Bits and Pieces: Two "E"s--Eltinge and Elks; and more about Jean Nison

The Ceramic Tiles and Murals of Jean Nison

Pleasant Days in Short Hills: A Rookwood Wonderland

Architectural Ceramics in the Queen City

Isaac Broome: Innovation and Design in the Tile Industry after the Centennial Exhibition

"Immigration on the Lower East Side": A Public Arts Mural Created by Richard Haas

Movie Palaces-Part 2: The Loews 175th Street Theatre

Béton-Coignet in New York: The New York and Long Island Coignet Stone Company

Michelin House, London

Movie Palaces, Part 1: Loew's Valencia Theatre

An Architectural and Ceramic Tour of Istanbul - Part II

The Tiles of Fonthill Castle

An Architectural and Ceramic Tour of Istanbul - Part I

Tiled Facades in Madrid

Nineteenth Century Brooklyn Potteries

Ernest Batchelder in Manhattan

Leon Victor Solon: Color, Ceramics and Architecture

Architectural Art Tiles in Reading, Pennsylvania

Charles Lamb and Charles Volkmar

Kansas City Architecture - II

Kansas City Architecture - I

Westchester County--Atwood and Grueby

Modern Houses in New Caanan, Connecticut

PPG Place, Pittsburgh

Aluminum City Terrace, New Kensington, Pennsylvania

Newark's WPA Tile Murals: “Fine Art is an Important Part of Everyday Life”

Public Art Programs in New York City: The CETA Tile Murals at Clark Street

Concrete and Tiles-I: Moyer, Mercer, Murosa

The Café Savarin and the Rookwood Pottery; Chocolate Shoppe Rebounds

Architectural Ceramics of Henry Varnum Poor

Herman Carl Mueller and the Church of St. Thomas the Apostle

Meet Me at the Astor

The Mikvah Under 5 Allen Street; "Historic Hall" Apartments Revisited

London Post-3

Some Moravian Tile Sites in New York

London Post-2

London Post-1

Brooklyn's International Tile Company

Subway Tiles-Part III, the Squire Vickers Era

Subway Tiles-Part II, Heins and LaFarge

Subway Tiles--Part I, Guastavino tiles

Trent in New York-Part III, Historic Hall Apartment House

American Encaustic Tiling Company-Part II, Artists' Tiles

Trent in New York-Part II, a Dey Street Restaurant

American Encaustic Tiling Company-Part I, Tile Showrooms

Trent in New York-Part I, The Bronx Theatre

Fred Dana Marsh's Tiles


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