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Mazdor Castillo: contemporary Maya painter

I have said several times in this blog that I am not a real believer in “coincidence.”

Tonight, I attended a joint meeting of the Livermore Art Association (LAA) and Pleasanton Art League (PAL) in Pleasanton, this month. The guest speaker was Mazdor Castillo (1), who grew up in Guatemala during a 30-year civil war between modern Mayan peoples and the dictatorship. Art became his escape. While he obtained a degree in Marketing and Publishing, Mazdor studied to become a professional artist. Mazdor moved to the U.S. in 2001, but his passion for Mayan glyphs and their meanings continues.

The description of Mazdor’s art in the January 2013 Portfolio newsletter of LAA and PAL says:

His recent series of 22 acrylic paintings, is called “Todo Juntos…Cada Uno,” roughly translated “everybody together….each one”. He selects a word, researches the Mayan glyphs and translates these meanings by connecting many elements in his paintings. The beauty, intensive color/weaving patterns, which the actual living Maya people wear as costumes, are incorporated throughout. “In this series I express unity, peace, happiness, freedom, love, life, hope, goodness… these universal elements work with a twist of soul and mystery. Everybody can see what I paint; everybody can see what he or she wants within the painting.

In part, people can see what they want within Mazdor’s paintings because there is so much THERE! There are Spanish words, portraits, Mayan glyphs, birds and other animals, and representations of sculpture. The symbols and images are interconnected in a rich and deep composition.

Oh… the “coincidence….” Mazdor recently sold one of the paintings that he showed tonight, a four-foot by four-foot acrylic composition with four corners that represent the four elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, to a private collector. Concealed in the design is the word for “Life,” and there are representations of birds in the Air, a seahorse and a shark in the Water, a rabbit in the Earth, and so forth. Near the center are symbols for humans.

The exhibition of my photography, along with the paintings of Engela Olivier-Wilson and the 3D works of Matthew Nylander, at the Harrington Gallery of the Firehouse Arts Center in Pleasanton, is entitled – “California: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Life.” Engela recently experienced a similar “coincidence” in a five-foot by five-foot painting of hers that was commissioned by a family in San Jose, the members of which have names meaning “Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.”


-Bill at

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