Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Traveler in Mexico: A Rendezvous with Writer Rosemary Sullivan (Inside Mexico)

My profile of Canadian writer and poet Rosemary Sullivan and her book Villa Air-Bel is now on-line in the new issue of Inside Mexico.

Coyoacán has become inextricably linked with painter Frida Kahlo, so what better place to rendezvous with poet, writer, and biographer of Surrealists Rosemary Sullivan? A professor of English at the University of Toronto, Sullivan had just alighted in Mexico City and would soon be on her way to meet with Surrealist painter Leonora Carrington when we met over cappuccinos at the sun-drenched Café Moheli to talk about her latest book.

Villa Air-Bel: World War II, Escape, and a House in Marseille is a page-turner of a deeply researched history about the rescue of artists and intellectuals trapped as the Nazis closed in. This effort, promoted by the New York-based Emergency Rescue Committee and their agent in Marseilles, Varian Fry, managed to save André Breton, Marc Chagall, and Max Ernst, among others, and found refuge for them in the United States. But some came to Mexico, including Russian novelist Victor Serge, his son Vlady, and most famously Surrealist painters Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo, who today (along with Frida Kahlo) are among Mexico's most revered artists. For this reason, Villa Air-Bel is a work important to the history of modern art in Mexico.

But the book's connection to Mexico goes deeper.

"Villa Air-Bel started here," Sullivan said. ...READ MORE