Self-taught artist blends aesthetics, spirituality

Mexico City, Mexico — Sometimes the most significant accomplishments come later in life.

For example, Jesus Magdaleno Cañavera, 74, of the Aragon Ward, Mexico City Aragon Stake, spent a long career as a radio journalist and it was not until after retiring that he became a self-taught artist. He also joined the Church in his later years, embracing the gospel at the expense of attending the outdoor expositions of his paintings.

His paintings have earned him renown.

"I had little opportunity to paint until the last 12 years," he said. "Since then, I have dedicated myself totally to painting."

Brother Magdaleno explained that learning to paint without a teacher is like climbing a mountain without a guide to direct one over difficult roads that are dangerous to cross. "But I arrived at the peak," he said.

He visited art galleries and museums, studied books and practiced composition and colors.

"There is a sensibility that is an enjoyable, aesthetic emotion," he said. "It is spiritual and very beautiful, the same emotion felt by a composer of music or a poet, a very intense emotion."

He began his career as a young man working in plastics and then became a journalist for 35 years.

"I interviewed for radio and television, produced radio and television shows and political and cultural documentaries. Communicating with the people was a good job."

After retiring he contracted throat cancer and underwent radiation and other treatments for six years.

A year and a half ago, missionaries came to his home. "I have always had sympathy for the Church," he said. "I have always had a special feeling for the Church." He was baptized "without any resistance."

After his conversion he stopped attending outdoor artists expositions held on Sundays and lost sales of his work.

However, many of his paintings now hang in temples throughout Mexico. His work also hangs in the Museum of Mormon History in Mexico City. The Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City has purchased one of his paintings.

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