Friday, March 9, 2012

Searching for Gabo

The Gabriel Garcia Marquez Cultural Center, on the right on 11th St, was built by the Mexican government. 
Novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 85th birthday this week seems like a good excuse to visit the Gabriel Garcia Marquez Cultural Center on 11th St., in La Candelaria.

The center was designed by
Colombian architect Rogelio Salmona.
The cultural center was built in 2008 by the Mexican government's Economic Cultural Fund. (Garcia Marquez, knicknamed Gabo, has lived in Mexico City for many years, so there is a connection.) It's a handsome building, designed by Colombian architect Rogelio Salmona, with his characteristic curves and open spaces. The center also has a huge bookstore and hosts many exhibitions and cultural events, including talks and concerts. On Sundays, they often hold public aerobics in the center's open-air atrium.

The center has a great bookstore,
including books in English. 
In other words, the cultural center's a handsome place and a very positive addition to the neighborhood.

But I've always wondered why they don't have anything about the center's namesake, Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author of One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, among many other works. In the past, the center has been decorated with portraits of Mexican writers, including Carlos Fuentes, a good friend of Garcia Marquez. Occasionally, I've seen Garcia Marquez's portrait there as well. And, naturally, the center has Garcia Marquez's novels - as well as  novels by many other authors.

I once asked some of the center's employees whether it wouldn't make sense to have an exhibition there about Garcia Marquez's life and work.

Well, they explained, but this center was built by Mexico. Sure, I agreed, but it is named the Gabriel Garcia Marquez Cultural Center.

They seemed to grudgingly agree that it'd be nice to have something about the Colombian novelist. I haven't seen anything, tho.

But if they prefer not to include any exhibitions about him, then why not just change the name? Then, at least, Gabo-worshipping tourists wouldn't come there looking for information about their literary idol.

Telling Part of the Tale: Gabriel García Márquez in La Candelaria

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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