Maestro Zalce’s birthday had been well-celebrated in his city of Morelia with homages, tributes, and constant visits by friends, family, and press. With Maestro Zalce in his beloved Morelia, the celebrations start a few days prior to his birthday and continue through his birthday on January 12th. That’s why I usually try to arrive either a few days prior to his birthday or shortly after the event.
I had assumed that he would be tired and weak after this year’s exhausting schedule, and when I telephoned him at about 3 p.m. on the 13th I asked if it wouldn’t be better for me to pop in for a brief visit the next day. He said "I’m not at all tired, in fact I’m alone, so come on over now," which I did.
He met me at the door, as always, and we went through the kitchen into his huge living room for my typically brief but delightful visit. He was as vivacious and lively as I’ve seen him in quite some time! His facial expressions and gestures animated, his sense of humor wonderful, his voice strong and articulate, his memory and knowledge were not those of an elderly man by any means* - he had apparently been energized by all of the activity. When I asked if all of the events hadn’t been difficult for him, he answered that he was always happy when with his friends. When I asked the secret to his longevity, he said he knew of no secret and laughingly added that he would be very happy to live to be a hundred…further demonstrating his exemplary zest for life.
*(The above is my observation, but since writing it I have received an e-mail from relative of Maestro Zalce, who has spent much more time with Maestro Zalce than I, and whose perception of some aspects of Maestro Zalce’s health paints quite a less rosy picture.)
He opened some small gifts which I had brought and seemed delighted, although I knew he had closets full of recently opened similar gifts. Then, I asked if he would be willing to let me interview him again with my digital camera, which records up to one minute of moving video with audio on a floppy disk. He was happy to do that, and the answers to four of my questions are available below, in Spanish, at the click of your mouse.
Each will require about 10 minutes to download, but you can download them all simultaneously. When they open and start to play (assuming you have the likes of "Real Player" or other software to make "MPEG" movies accessible, which can be downloaded free from "http://download.cnet.com/" and other places) you can right mouse-click on the moving image and "save as" for quick future playing in a pre-planned folder on your hard drive. Unfortunately, his answers were sometimes cut off by my camera’s one minute max recording time.
1. When did you start producing art for the first time? (1 minute)
2. Why have you on two occasions not accepted the offer of Mexico’s top honor for artists, the "Premio Nacional de Arte?" (18 sec.)
3. What do you think of some of the modern "art" which includes the likes of toilets and cut-up dead animals? (1 minute)
4. Why have you now stopped painting? (37 sec.)
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