The arched hallway to this market pays beautiful tribute to its fruit sellers, farmers, and traders, as well as a few legendary artists.
Despite only having been Interim President of Mexico for a few months in 1832, Melchor Múzquiz is the namesake of a fair few institutions in the country. The most notable of these is probably his birthplace of Santa Rosa, now known as Múzquiz, Coahuila. The market bearing his name in the town of San Ángel, near Mexico City, is the likeliest second. The building housing the market was originally quite plain, typical of Mexico City public works in those years.
For 50 years, the market was little more than a place for locals to buy produce and groceries. During this time, San Ángel would become completely engulfed in Mexico City’s urban sprawl, turning it into the touristic, colonial suburb it is known as today. With the area’s growing reputation as a destination, artist Ariosto Otero Reyes was commissioned by local authorities to transform the outside of the market with murals. His finished work was unveiled in September 2008.
Given free rein to choose the subject matter and medium for his murals, Reyes settled on a mix of folklorist scenes related to the market’s trade and a tribute to his personal heroes. Additionally, the murals break with the Mexican tradition of fresco painting favoring instead an almost collage-like mixed media approach involving rescued materials such as broken porcelain pieces and post-industrial refuse to create something similar to a tiled mosaic.
The murals occupy the inside and outside walls of the market’s front arched hallway and depict 67 people involved in various activities. While the majority of the 46 men and 21 women depicted are anonymous fruit sellers, farmers, and traders, some of the figures are significantly more recognizable. Reyes couldn’t help but add a meta reference to the history of Mexican muralism in the mural itself, including the “Big Three” painters Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco. You can also find well-known figures such as the singer and classic film star Pedro Infante and writers Carlos Monsiváis and Elena Poniatowska gracing the walls.
Know Before You Go
The mural hall can be visited even when the market is closed, in fact it's often better. During holidays and weekends, some of the market stands will move to the outside hall and block the path and view to see the murals. Melchor Múzquiz is the official name of the market but most locals known it simply as Mercado de San Ángel.