What was once a textile Factory, today is home to canvases, sculptures and artisanal craftwork made by the great artists who live in San Miguel.

The ‘La Aurora’ Cultural Arts and Design Center, now established as one of the main attractions in San Miguel de Allende, this year has one very good reason to celebrate: The Twelfth anniversary of its already impressive history.

Having for more than nine decades acted as an important engine for the local textile industry and workforce, the Aurora Factory’s walls have transformed to shelter canvas paintings, arts and crafts where giant looms once stood, replacing and enhancing their fame.

And so, in the year 2004, with the support of Don Francisco Garay and the creative courage and initiative of Christopher Fallon, Mary Rapp, Merry Calderony and DeWayne Youts – North American artists who came to this city to express their experiences through masterful use of the paintbrush, sculpture and design- the first workshops were opened, laying the seed that would become a full-fledged arts and culture center.

Since then, the factory’s halls have been filled with Modern Art galleries, designer furniture and interior design stores, along with antiques, jewellery, embroidery, restaurants, and the center’s main attraction: the Workshop-Galleries which add to to the colorful atmosphere that draws in countless locals, tourists and anyone who feels a love of art.

“The factory’s character today has been created by the artists that have gathered here, from the original arrivals like Christopher Fallon, who was very involved with the factory from the start in the remodeling and space conceptualization. That is why I feel the factory has adopted the personality and creativity of the various people that have gathered here” says Mr. Francisco Garay, son of Don Francisco, owner and promoter for the arts center.

A stroll through La Aurora brings one to many possible scenarios. From the simple delights of spending an afternoon exploring the walkways and open studios, gliding between paintings, antiques, books and sculptures, even perhaps bumping face to face with an artist whilst exchanging ideas and opinions as they enjoy a meal at the local coffee shops, or while plunging into battle with the canvas armed with brushes and paint.

Mary Rapp, a sculptress who has made La Aurora her home from the very start, recalls how “the walls in my studio still keep the marks made by machinery, back when this was a factory. Marks that I consider to be art. Some of the artists here like to have our studios open to the public, with each posting opening times on our website, allowing whoever wishes to do so to come and see us during our creative process.”

Here, renowned artists from Mexico and around the world can find over a decade of history, creating a space where they can develop their creativity and show their work. The atmosphere at La Aurora has continued to draw new creators who add to the corridors as they join distinguished artists such as Peter Leventhal, Juan Ezcurdia, Ricardo García and Santiago Corral in dedicating part of their career to expressing their passions here. Likewise, the vision and inspiration of writers such as Edward Swift, who took the liberty of imagining the Factory walls as pages in a book, internalizing it for inspiration in composing his memoirs. And finally, they find the affinity and warmth of hundreds of families who visit every week, experiencing the many spaces within the cultural center.

It has been twelve years since La Aurora re-opened its doors, transformed into an Arts and Design center. From the seeds and effort planted by the Garay family and the early visions of its creators, who hoped to explore the arteries of a factory intimately linked to the artists, a glorious project has emerged, and the fruits of this harvest are now being reaped. Years of encounters, where the protagonists – painters, sculptors, gallery owners and guests – have projected on one another the inspiration needed to imprint on them the memory of their works. The essence that combines a city’s artistic identity and an immediate beacon for its visitors.

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