Doug Riseborough

56… Art in Alamos is a many splendor thing…

Doug Riseborough in his art studio, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson

Artists and their studios share a relationship where one becomes the other.

I was always interested in the progress a space was making one block off the Alameda on my favorite Alamos thoroughfare, Calle Francisco Madero. The narrow gently rising one-way street leading to the plaza has an old world sensibility, all homes are connected rooms sharing a common hallway, the street. And here on a corner was a place that had colorful trompe l’oeil beach murals on its walls. My first thought was these heroic scaled figures were part of Mediterranean scenes, but on lingering examination I realized it was Southern California. I could see through the partially opened wood shutters that the space’s floor was always empty, as if it was waiting for a business to move equipment in and entertain its patrons. Was it going to be an intimate disco-bar? An upper-end beauty salon? A self-help retreat run by transplanted beach gurus? So quiet. So strange. So… well, Alamos where many worlds can be one.

Doug Riseborough at home with his mural, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Doug Riseborough, noted international muralist, relaxing at home.

Sharon Bernard Harrison, aware of my interest in documenting artists of Alamos, arranged a morning coffee meeting with the painter Doug Riseborough. A dapper gentlemen dressed in white greeted me at the door and welcomed me into his home. His art was everywhere, including a large work on canvas over a couch seen in the photo above. The painting style was familiar, I had documented a couple of days earlier a mural at the Palacio by Doug featuring interaction between Conquistadors and Indians. One of Doug’s famous commissions was a mural displayed on the Avenues of Americas for the 1962 World’s Fair, The Ascendance of Stone Age Man to their Present State…. In it Chief Tarire was depicted severing the umbilical cord that connected him to his past. Doug traveled to the small Indian settlement where Chief Tarire had lived as research for the mural.

Doug Riseborough with a friend, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Born in Canada, living in Los Angeles, Doug is at ease in Alamos.

Doug, a small man in stature and a monumental presence with brush, projected an assured confidence. Aware of the camera, he collected his being and created a pose for each shot. I am sure Doug knew his best photographic side. One rule of thumb for an artist is make your money on the road and Doug had done his share of traveling including a four story mural in Hawaii presenting the creation of Maui. Other commissions took him to Rockefeller Center and a Saudia Arabian Prince’s palace.

Doug thought it would be a good idea to photograph him at work in his studio. We left his house and walked down busy streets. And there we were. The mysterious space I mentioned at the start of this story was his paint studio. The only furniture was his easel and a table. His studio, with tall walls, allowed his imagination to soar and his subjects to come alive with each transcendent brush stroke.

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