In 2005, Baja artist Nuria Benitez was diagnosed with cancer. Making it to her 40th birthday seemed very far-fetched. It took 7 years, 25 chemos, 25 radiation rounds and 13 surgeries to fight and win the battle for her life. She is now well and happy and grateful. Most importantly, she is back at her art studio feeling stronger and better than ever.
Last spring, Dr. Gregory Payne, a member of the Rediscover Rosarito team invited Nuria, and her fellow local artists David Silvah and Antonio Proa to exhibit their artwork in Spain. As plans for their travel came together, it seemed poetic that on October 2nd, her 40th birthday. she would be in the air on her way to exhibit her work at the Blanquerna Communication University in Barcelona, followed by ACVIC Centre D`Arts Contemporanies in Vic, and Café Museum in Valencia. Talk about making a comeback!
Nuria says that ever since she could walk and talk, her life has been all about color. She says it is almost like another language that she speaks, “it’s the way that I think and view the world…. In full color.”
Nuria’s art work falls between fauvism and expressionism with a Latin flare. It’s not about the lines; it’s not about shapes or figures; it is all about the color; the passion and what could be called, for lack of a better phrase, the violence of color.
Along with her fellow artists, David Silvah and Antonio Proa, Nuria arrived in Barcelona, Spain on her 40th birthday, October 2nd,. The gentlemen took Nuria out for a picturesque birthday dinner in Las Ramblas. They were each excited to be there. Art and inspiration seem to follow them everywhere. A different kind of beauty from the beauty of the Baja was around them. The foliage in the trees, the urban art on the metro station, the sound of live music; it was all inspiring and good preparation for their visits to the museums that house many of the most amazing masterpieces of all times.
All three of the artists agree that one of their top moments was meeting contemporary master Carles Verges, in the ancient Catalonia, town of Vic. Mr. Verges gracefully opened his studio for an intimate dinner in their honor.
For them, Vic was a window to the past. Like they were stepping back into history, their arrival had been timed perfectly to enjoy the Sardana, a typical dance held in the middle of the plaza. The old roman buildings and the town architecture surrounding the ACVIC Centre D`Arts Contemporanies, was for them a beautiful juxtaposition of historic and modern inspiration. For artists who notice everything, it was all almost too much, but back in the Baja, they are now letting it sink in and hoping they can call up the same exact feelings as they get back to sitting in front of a blank canvas.
Nuria, David, and Antonio, agree that they gained so much from this experience. From the people they met, including art dealers, gallery owners, fine art painters, and new friends, to the museums they were able to visit, and the opportunities they had to be face to face with the genius of Dali`s creations, Picasso’s masterpieces, and Gaudi’s inspirational shapes, they come home to us somewhat overwhelmed and most definitely inspired.
The three artists left Europe mulling ideas for their work in Tijuana and Rosarito, which we should start seeing soon. They know that they left behind with those who saw their exhibits, a delicious taste of the art produced in Baja. They have proudly shown their colors and their Mexican/Latin passion. They know Europe wants to see more. They affirm that they are proudly up for the challenge.
What is next for Nuria herself? “Just give me a couple of weeks in my studio, and I will show you. I’ll show you all that I saw in Spain and France and how it has moved me and changed me. For an artist nothing goes unnoticed. Every detail, every experience is expressed. Every line, every contrast or shade, contains an impression, a memory…. whether it is from a trip, from a person, from love or from nature, from success or from an illness, you can be sure it will be captured and transformed into something beautiful.”
When I further asked Nuria how she would characterize all the effort and the ups and downs of her first 40 years she said, “ To have been through a lot and to survive, to be able to continue to create and produce art….I say yes. Yes to all!”
After 15 years as a professional artist and the uncertainty and emotional roller coaster inherent in overcoming a serious cancer diagnosis, this year has held deep meaning in Nuria’s life. 2013 has been all about making a comeback. Come see Nuria, the embodiment of a risen phoenix at either her Tijuana studio at calle Mina 164 col. Hipodromo, or visit her at the Baja Gallery in front of the Rosarito Beach Hotel. Nuria can also be reached at her page www.nuriabac.com