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In his book Art and San Miguel Gang Psychology, Donald Watson says

“When women first pick up a paint brush, or silver wire or glass cutters, or a pen to write in San Miguel, an inner voice that has been stilled for so many years starts to speak. It tells them they are CREATIVE. They rush home and begin to see their home in a different way. They see it as a source for CREATIVITY and a source to help them EXPRESS themselves. So the rugs, drapes, table coverings, bedspreads, curtains, towels, dishrags, table runners around the house soon disappear from the house and appeared as CREATIVE clothing.”

When Donald looked around San Miguel he found that the Instituto Allende, the Bellas Artes and the Biblioteca were the three most important places for awakening that CREATIVE inner voice.

The first household item wearers in San Miguel were brave pioneers who suffered mightly from snickers in the Jardin. But as their numbers grew and the gangs formed the snickers turned to whispers. Now women can walk freely and proudly in the Jardin wearing whatever they found that morning on the floor or on the wall or in linen closet. They welcome your stares and pictures because they believe you are honoring their CREATIVITY.

But not all gangs sprang from unleashing the CREATIVE inner voice. The Classic Gang sprang from their husband, ex-husband or late husband’s open wallet. ART to this group was not something you did but something your bought. They came to San Miguel to buy. They started with FABULOUS houses. Then one day in 1994 Missy Craigthorne noticed that some of the shabbily dressed people in San Miguel were carrying canvasses. She followed them to the Instituto Allende and had her mystical moment. They were ARTISTS. Out came her husband’s wallet and she bought her first piece of ART. Word spread throughout town that the shabby people had nice stuff to sell. Within a week there was no art left in town.

But the Gamay family recognized an open wallet when they saw one and in 2001 opened

Finally women of substance had a place to go and spend their days and their money.

Gangs for the Less Creative and Less Wealthy

“If you paint it they will come”, that wonderful line from the movie Hills of Dreams was so true in San Miguel.  They did come in droves but not all were wealthy nor artists nor creative.  For a long time they were the lost ones in San Miguel.  They sat in the Jardin looking for purpose until Henry Bolton created the now famous Doing Good Works Gang. Now there was something for those with less artistic ability and wealth.