Mary Magdalene’s Dawn in San Miguel
Part of what I enjoy so very much about spending my days immersed in San Miguel history and culture is I meet really interesting folks. One of those was a colorful gal that came on a few tours and I came to learn was a local artist who invited me to visit her studio. I jumped at the opportunity.
Upon entry to the gallery/home/studio of Dawn Gaskill I realized I entered one of two possibilities. Either I was in Jeannie’s bottle waiting for Larry Hagman to arrive, or I was happily nestled in the bottom of a lovely, giant-sized, box of chocolates. Either way, I was content.
Dawn Gaskill came to town 17 years ago, like many ex-pats before her, to try her hand at being an artist and see if she could support herself. What makes Dawn even more unique is she could and she does.
Dawn’s medium is a mixture of bees’ wax and tree resin she blow torches into submission with 60 or 70 layers of heated colors she can later add dimensional objects like St. Michael or she carves away to show the layers of color underneath. Personally, I’ve always been attracted to thick and dimensional paintings.
But Dawn’s art has another layer that always garners interest, her intermixing of world-wide faiths, cultures and histories. Egypt, Greece, Tibet, Buddhism, Catholicism, etc. all are displayed in her textural paintings.
Dawn is brilliant at marketing her art. Personally, I am all over social media as it helps me promote new books and see what stories strike a chord with folks. Plus, to be frank, I enjoy the immediate satisfaction of someone liking my work. Compared to Dawn, I think like a child.
She showed me algorithms that clearly linked a social media entry to an eventual sell of one of works within a few hours. I was highly impressed.
Back to the paintings…..
Pieces that caught my San Miguel eyes featured Saint Mary Magdalene, arguably one of the most famous and famously confused women in Christianity. For centuries Mary Magdalene was presented as the whore Jesus befriends versus a wealthy and politically connected woman. Not just that, but according to St. Matthew, Mary Magdalene was whom Jesus first appeared to after his resurrection. Nope, not his Mom or an apostle, it was Mary from Magdala he was most anxious to get in contact with following death. Obviously she was important to him.
Dawn explained to me a legend I was unfamiliar with but pops up in her paintings and meditations. Namely that Mary from Magdala gathered politicians, including the Roman Emperor, together to discuss Jesus’ resurrection. The emperor made clear he’d believe Jesus came back from the dead if an egg Mary presented him turned red. Mary picked up the egg and it turned red convincing the emperor and starting the tradition of coloring Easter eggs.
Here in San Miguel, a land that latches onto to legends and traditions, coloring Easter eggs (much less the Easter bunny) has never really caught on. But when not being sold on-line, Dawn’s paintings tour museums across North America where Mary Magdalene and her red egg continue her efforts to spread the importance of rebirth and starting anew.