Meet the Artists and the Characters on the Art Connoisseurs Tour
I was surprised to learn that Miguel Angel Manzi, the founder and tour guide of Art Connoisseurs, is an accountant by day and an art aficionado by night. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know his stuff – actually, on the contrary!
Miguel studied accounting at San Andres University. He was required to take a few elective classes, and in the process, he fell in love with art. Though his interest in art wasn’t enough to change his career path at the time, he found a place for it later through the founding of Art Connoisseurs in December 2012. Now, art is a part of his everyday life. Art Connoisseurs offers an ever-changing array of art tours around Buenos Aires.
As Miguel says, “Museum tours and art galleries can be so stuffy and rigid. I want to make it fun, to get people excited, so I plan activities based around a theme.” One day, Miguel leads groups through Gallery Nights in Palermo. The next, he hosts Art Therapy, an event at which everyone makes art and then is analyzed through their choice of subject matter and color. On the day that I met Miguel, he was leading a caricature tour through San Telmo.
That day, Miguel was joined by Andrea Toledo, a professional caricature artist. As a group, we toured the Caminata del Humor, a collection of murals and life-size cartoon figures in San Telmo. Of these, the most famous is the Mafalda bench, of course – in part because it’s Mafalda but also, I think, because of its prime location during the San Telmo Fair – but there are more characters most people never see.
The Caminata del Humor begins with Mafalda on the corner of Defensa and Chile and ends with Gaturro on Paseo Colon. (At this intersection, even the do-not-walk signs are made in his likeness!) In total, there are ten figures, and we saw them all.
Along the way, Miguel and Andrea gave a history of each character and its creator, supplementing their stories with comic clippings and full magazines. After visiting each of the ten figures, we headed to La Poesia for a coffee break. While we sipped on our coffees (which were, by the way, included in the price of the tour – how thoughtful!), Andrea showed us her portfolio. What a range of talent!
Then, as a surprise, she whipped up a caricature of each of the participants, myself included. To be perfectly honest, I was scared. I imagined one of two things would happen: either it would look nothing like me, like the time I paid a “caricature artist” in Florida to draw me as a stock figure, or it would look too much like me, in the way of many too-cruel, too-true observations. Thankfully, neither happened. Andrea somehow struck the delicate balance of being kind yet not too forgiving, and I was amazed at how quickly and accurately she captured each one of us. I went home, caricature in hand, happy to have such a personalized parting gift.
For more information about upcoming Art Connoisseur events, check the Facebook page or website. If you’re interested in Andrea’s work, you can buy prints on her site for AR$250 – 350, or contact her about commissioned work.