Expat angels Sally and Peter spread hope and joy

Jul 25, 2021 | 7 comments

There are angels who live among us that we often do not recognize. I, for one, was taught that angels wear flowing white robes with cutouts for their wings and ample wiggle room to accommodate the agility required to play the harp or toot a brass horn. However, I now know better — a couple of Cuenca’s busiest angels wear striped pantaloons, message-bearing t-shirts, and sport colorful beads.

Welcome to the world of Peter Dudar and Sally Marr, two of Cuenca’s most accomplished artists and certainly among the finest practitioners of frontline community activism and selfless service to those in need. Their exploits are legendary.

Marr and Dudar hail from Southern California where they laid claim to a sizable chunk of the creative landscape. To see examples of their handiwork check out their website, VanishingKingdoms.com.

Fleaworld is a dazzling two-acre paradise gracing a historic 1920’s Moorish villa in Los Feliz, one of the most lovely and established neighborhoods in Los Angeles, California. Created by Marr and Dudar for Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the acreage is composed of 12 distinct gardens forming a phantasmagoria of sleeping mythical beasts, artful landscaping, and dreamy sculptures. A 300-foot-long mosaic dragon pathway meanders between a sun-soaked cactus garden and a misty rainforest where hidden sprinklers drizzle cool water from treetops. A gingerbread trimmed Victorian playhouse highlights exotic flora from around the world while Mayan, Indonesian, and neo-classical sculptures appear as surprising signposts, guiding fanciful animals that appear to prance about the garden, creating a playful yet serene environment — a welcome change from the kinetic energy that gobbles up most of the fuel-driven city.

Dwarf tree orchards and a spectacular assortment of groundcovers add texture and unity to the sprawling garden. Fleaworld has been featured in numerous award-winning garden magazines, and is now under the stewardship of the Getty Family.”

When Dudar and Marr are not busying themselves playing in the dirt with Mother Earth, they spend their time leisurely creating bronze sculptures, painting with oils and watercolor, sketching with pen and ink, making movies, blogging, teaching, mentoring, composing music, and promoting world peace. Whew! I wonder what they do after lunch…

I know what they do during lunch. Every day for the last two years, Marr and Dudar, supported by friends who help with assembling and bagging, hand out nearly 100 healthy homemade sandwiches and fresh fruit to the homeless, hangers-on, buskers, seniors, trekkers, misfits, and just plain hungry adorning the area around the new cathedral and Parque Calderon.

This venture, Compassion Kitchen, is supported by donations and ticket sales from an ongoing review, Compassion Concerts, headlined by an assortment of Cuenca’s most celebrated musicians and singers. Past concerts, performed in the acoustically sound old cathedral, sold out quickly. Fortunately, this season’s  Compassion Concert has been pushed back a month, allowing those who are not familiar with the series ample time to make reservations and invite their friends.

Peter Dudar and Sally Marr recently celebrated their first decade in Cuenca. In their time here, their projects have benefited the homeless, street dogs, battered women, earthquake victims, immigrants, the mentally disadvantaged, and street people of all shapes, sizes, and colors — all with their art, hard work and world-class musical talent. Dudar’s classical training as a pianist and Marr’s whimsical visions are a most welcome addition to the creative landscape of Cuenca; our community would be much poorer were it not for their rich contribution of activism through art and steadfast commitment to serving the vulnerable.

Peter and Sally have certainly earned the admiration and love that Cuenca is known for. They serve as a shining example to us all to be fully engaged in service to others, and in doing so, enhance the talent and skill required to artfully create a life well-lived.

We salute you.