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Jul-28-2019 01:34printcomments

Remembering Sculptor Gabriel Ponzanelli, Friend and Mentor

The most recognized and famous Mexican sculptor of the twentieth century has passed.

Gabriel Ponzanelli
Gabriel Ponzanelli with the Frida Kahlo he created for her Park in Mexico City.

(COZUMEL, Mexico) - Gabriel Ponzanelli, regarded as one of the world’s greatest sculptors, passed away Tuesday, July 16, 2019. Gabriel was a close personal friend for almost 50 years.

We first met in Buffalo NY when I was working for the Voice of the Alchemist arts magazine in 1970. The editor Jessie Nazareth was boyhood friends with Gabriel, growing up in Mexico City.

Throughout his life, Gabriel created hundreds of sculptures in numerous cities in Mexico, the US and around the planet. In Oregon, Gabriel created the life size bronze of Wayne Morris in Eugene’s free speech plaza.

Ponzanelli came from a line of artists going back 800 years from Carrara Italy. His grandfather Adolfo Ponzanelli was commissioned to create the marble sculptures on the exterior of the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City, and moved the family from Italy in 1900.

Gabriel’s father Octavio was a renowned artist and close friends with Frida and Diego Rivera. He sent Gabriel to live with them for a month when he was 8 years old. His first work was a drawing of Frida, she gave him 50 pesos a lot of money at the time.

Wayne Morse statue

In the 1980’s, Gabriel was commissioned by the president of Mexico to create the beautiful sculpture of Frida Kahio for her park in Coyoacan Mexico City.

The Angels of Puebla standing about 50 feet high is one of his greatest pieces. I have included a few of his numerous works in photos including one of Beatles and Rolling Stones promotions man Pete Bennett.

I introduced them in Playa Del Carmen Mexico. They hit it off right away speaking in Italian to each other. Pete Bennett really cherished the Bronze Gabriel created of him; Pete passed in 2012.

As a close friend and mentor, Gabriel will be missed! As a notable emblem in Mexican history and culture, his passing is a tremendous loss. His light however, is not extinguished. His son Daniel is also regarded as one of the world’s great Muralists, he just returned from a show in Paris.

Gabriel Ponzanelli is survived by his sons Gabriel and Daniel, wife Cindy, sisters Marcella and Rosemarie and brother Ricardo, with many grandchildren, nieces and nephews!

A documentary on Gabriel and the Ponzanelli family history has just been finished by this author, Paul Petock, and will be released soon. Note: We are looking for a network in Mexico to air the program. Atención: Estamos buscando una red en México para transmitir el programa.

See a sampling of Ponzanelli's work below (Photos by Paul Petock):


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