Tourismo Sevilla Kicks Off “The Year of Murillo” at Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel

“The Year of Murillo” celebration party at Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel

“The Year of Murillo” celebration party at Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel

It seems these days that the city of Seville, Spain has been one of the subjects showing up in several of my last reviews. First there was my review of the concert performance of the opera Carmen, which takes place in Seville, by French composer Georges Bizet at Zipper Hall courtesy of Opera Buffs, followed by my review of the full production by Los Angeles Opera at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion earlier this month.

Located on the southwest region of the Iberian Peninsula, Seville is the capital city of the autonomous community of Andalusia. One of the most important cultural figures of this ancient city is the baroque painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo whose 400th birth anniversary comes next year, and Seville is gearing up for a massive celebration of the artist from November 2017 to December 2018.

Murillo was born either in Seville or the nearby town of Pilas and is considered one of the master painters of the Spanish baroque period. Known not just for his religious works and the depiction of the social elite of the time, he also portrayed everyday Spaniards including children, beggars and other common folks. He was also one of the founding members of the Academia de Bellas Artes along with architect Francisco Herrera the Younger.

To kick off “The Year of Murillo” the tourism organization Tourismo Sevilla hosted an elegant reception at the beautiful Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel which was attended by the Honorable Mayor of Seville Juan Espadas Cejas, the owner of the Luxe Efrem Harkham, the Consul of Tourism Affairs and Director of the Tourist Office of Spain in Los Angeles Belén Gonzalez del Val Subirats along with several representatives of the Getty Center, which owns several Murillo drawings.

The reception was held in one of the spectacular courtyards that are spread throughout this jewel of a hotel, which is tucked into the hills of the Brentwood/Bel Air border. During the evening, guests dined on delectable hors d’oeuvres featuring a Serrano ham stand that sliced thin portions of this Spanish delicacy.

No respecting Spanish event could be without some fine wines, and this one was no exception. Guests were able to enjoy two types from the Spanish Castaño family label featuring a smooth Chardonnay and a full-bodied Monastrell red along with a hearty white sherry from the Tio Pepe winery, both from the Andalusia region.

As a piece de resistance, a wood dance floor was set up in the middle of the courtyard for a flamenco dance and music performance by a fantastic group of talented artists that included Nelia Tirado (dancer), Andres Vadin (guitar), Jose Cortes (singer) and Manuel Gutierrez (dancer), who I just happened to see in the LA Opera’s production of Carmen in the dance segments. Not a lot of information was left behind on the origins of the art of flamenco, but it is certain that it had its origins in the Andalusia region during the Moorish period of the 8th to 15th centuries. The Arabic music of that time was adapted by the Christians, Jews and later by the gypsies to form what we know today as flamenco.

As guests left, they were gifted a tote bag from Tourismo Sevilla with some parting goodies, including letter-size color prints of many of Murillo’s works, a gorgeous press dossier and a Spanish fan, among other small gifts. Let’s hope that before “The Year of Murrillo” is over, we will see one of the art exhibits being planned in Spain make it to the City of Angels.

Humberto Capiro is a Contributing Writer for Living Out Loud - LA, covering lifestyle and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter: @HumbertoCapiro

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