Comalapa, Guatemala, town of artists

The most amazing sight in Comalapa is the mural along the cemetery walls. But it is also a town of artists with many painted walls and galleries of local arts depicting village scenes in bright colors.

Many of the villages of Guatemala specialize in various arts and are peopled with artisans. I had come with some friends to Comalapa to visit the Perens, a family of artists that had won their hearts. In their gallery, the Peren men showed us their beautiful works, each painting telling its own story of village life and events. Themes of local traditions and festivals were painted what is known as naif style. The joys of their lifestyle comes through in these detailed and vivid tableaus.

Peren gallery

The Sunday market was busy and colorful. Beyond the stalls in the marketplace, women sat on blankets on the dusty ground. The women wore huipiles, woven shirts, from different towns, unlike most villages where all the women wore variations on one design that identified the area. All of them, though, wore a similar pattern corte or wrap-around skirt. Most of the men in town sported cowboy hats. Sounds of the Kaqchikel language could be heard, the native tongue of the local Mayan people in this region.

Sunday market, Comalapa

We happened upon the annual meeting of the local Alcoholics Anonymous chapter (yes, they are international). An artist told me that for seventeen years he would paint half the day, then drink half the day. Two of his sons also were recovered alcoholics. When I met him, he was painting a series depicting the sad life of drinkers in the village.

The past and hopes for the future of the village were depicted in the cemetery mural. Starting with the dawn of time as described in Maya legends, the mural panels covered the corn growers and Mayan builders from precolonial times. The arrival of the Spanish brought death and destruction. The emergence of the church soon dominated South and Central American life. Heart rending images of killings and atrocities of the 1980s government-sponsored genocide decimated indigenous Guatemalan villages. People were pinned under their homes in more recent earthquakes. The mural images ended with doves of peace. On the other side of the gate, the mural continued with panels of hope and building blocks for what is to come: education, technology, reading, learning, children, and families.

Learn more about Oscar Peren, internationally exhibited artist of Comalapa.

Travel Photo Challenge answers

Where were those places? For those of you trying to “place” the photos from my last post, Travel Photo Challenge & Good Writer Talks, here are the answers:

Inukshuk, Hirtles Beach, Nova Scotia, Canada – a common symbol among First Nations people
Anapchi Pond, Gyeong-ju, South Korea – ancient capital of Korea and UNESCO World Heritage site
Blue-footed booby, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Panagia Angeloktisti, Church of the Seven Martyrs, Kastro, Sifnos, Greece – potters’ island
Taos Pueblo, Taos, New Mexico, USA
Dolphins, Kaikoura, South Island, New Zealand – taken on a dolphin swim
Leopard, Timbavati, South Africa – adjacent to Kruger National Park
Textile woman, Plaza Central, Antigua, Guatemala
Stone lantern, Nikko, Japan – UNESCO World Heritage site
Sea wall, Dubrovnik, Croatia

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Published by rkrontheroad

Writer, photographer, traveler

42 thoughts on “Comalapa, Guatemala, town of artists

  1. The mural is absolutely breathtaking. I love all the people photos, the older sittin’ doin’ nothin’ couple and the boy with the horse in particular. But my favorite shot is the church with the crumbling steps and the dog in the foreground.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your kind comment, Leighton! I do love the one of the church with the dog passing by. I’m going to post a few more Guatemala village stories of places I loved and are rarely seen by tourists, places that are not on the way to somewhere well known.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. the mural and the market, even the cemetery, everything is so colorful, how amazing right? 🙂 thanks for sharing Comalapa, I hope I have the chance to visit Guatemala and Central America some day 🙂 have a perfect weekend, PedroL

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, everything looks so colourful! I’d love to visit Guatemala one day! Your photos are absolutely phenomenal! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I debated whether or not to include that photo, but it was an important part of their lives, showing their rejection of addiction and working to turn their lives around to their art.


  4. I love the paintings and the cemetery mural. The former reminded me of a painting we saw on the wall of a restaurant in Santa Fe, the Shed. It was hanging above our table and another customer stopped to look, saying that she was from Guatemala and recognised the style. Both she and we tried to make out the signature but couldn’t. I think it’s just possible that it could have been by Oscar Peren as a quick Google search tells me he exhibited in the town in July 2011 ( and we were there later that year. I wonder???

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a wonderful show! Thanks for sending that link. I found the pages for the gallery he was listed at, but neither of those were his images. It’s quite possible you have seen his work though.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. absolutely love the colour and vibrancy of this village with a cemetary wall that clearly depicts the cycle of life … what a delightful idea to have one’s art on permanent display for all to enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

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