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A Passion Not Forgotten

January 18, 2018

By Mimi Pollack

Some passions are hard to forget. In the case of widower, Rafael “Fallo” Mareyna, he had two loves or passions which were painting, something he left behind and came back to many years later, and his late wife, Dora Sorokin.

Mareyna and Sorokin were married and devoted to each other for 66 years, until her untimely death last year. Today, he takes solace in painting, and at the age of 87, this passion keeps him going every day.

Mareyna was born in the state of Veracruz in 1930. His parents were Polish Jews who arrived in Mexico in 1924. They moved to Mexico City a few years later as times were hard and they were struggling immigrants.

As a young boy, he attracted his teacher’s attention with his natural ability to draw. He began to paint with oil and would begin exhibiting in different galleries in Mexico City, Monterrey, and in New York City while he was in high school.

During his 15 years as a painter, he studied with Bardasano, a Spanish artist known for his classical paintings. He also studied under the renowned Canadian-born, Jewish-Mexican painter Arnold Belkin, who later became a good friend.

However, it is difficult to make a living as an artist, and as was the social norm for Jews in Mexico at that time, he decided to follow a more traditional path after he married Dora Sorokin, the love of his life. They couple had two children, and he needed to provide for his family, so he left art to pursue a more lucrative career, using his degree in accounting.

For almost 30 years, he provided very well for his family. He began working at a family owned business that produced bed frames. Then, in 1963, he teamed up with a German-Jewish refugee , Luis Rosenfeld, and together, they opened up one of the first private stock brokerages in Mexico, Bursamex, S.A. Rosenfeld was much older and after his passing, Mareyna became the sole owner. Bursamex was very successful, especially after the devaluation in 1982, so when Mareyna decided to retire in 1992, he was able to sell it for a handsome profit.

He did not paint for all those years. His art was put on the back burner. However, he still retained his bohemian heart and befriended many of the local artists in Mexico.
His daughter, Becky Guttin, recalls many a night when she was growing up where her house was alive with all those artists and bohemians, exchanging ideas and showing off their work. She grew up among those friends that he socialized with and inherited her father’s love of art.

Guttin later went on to become a successful international artist as an adult, and in turn, her father delighted in her world. In fact, she was also the conduit for helping her father rekindle his old passion.

In 1998, Mareyna and his family moved to San Diego to begin a new chapter in life.
Mareyna began to feel pangs for the passion he had left behind. In 2005, his daughter invited him to come and work with her in her workshop. Not only that, unbeknownst to him and much to his surprise and delight, she had kept all of his old art furniture, including his easel, so he was able to dive right back in.

In addition, she later rented the space next door to her workshop on Miramar Road, and now, they each have their own workshop side by side.

Mareyna’s workshop is full of his paintings and creations. He has had several exhibits over the last few years and has a new one coming up this spring that he is preparing for.

His art keeps him going both mentally and physically. Having a good sense of humor and giving back to others help, too. Mareyna is a strong supporter of the Red Cross, especially when there are natural disasters and one of his proudest moments in life was becoming an American Citizen in 2017.

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