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Thursday, May 26, 2022

An international couple in Mérida finds harmony through color, symmetry, and art

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
A pair of stone busts visible from the terrace represents the owners, Benjamín Ramírez and Ross Russell. Photo: Carlo Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

For 15 years, Benjamín Ramírez and Ross Russell have been enjoying life in their spacious Mérida home. Like many properties in Mérida, the home’s unassuming facade gives little of the dazzling interior within. 

Both Benjamín and Ross, originally from Mexico City and Pennsylvania, respectively, are great art lovers, a fact that is immediately evident when entering their foyer. “We have pieces from all over the world, but I am particularly fond of Mexican religious art,” says Benjamin, who is an accomplished artist himself — having presented art shows in Mexico, the United States, and Europe. 

Benjamín Ramírez and Ross Russell, who divide their time between Mérida, Yucatán; San Diego, California; and Spain. Photo: Carlo Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Ross explains that as he was not yet retired by the time they moved to Mérida he became an early telecommuter  — and with a smile, says he is now grateful for those circumstances because at that time, video conferencing was not yet all that common. 

Benjamín and Ross’s home exudes color but is much more subdued than what we have come to expect when we hear the words “traditional Mexican house.” Blue and yellow walls contrast with the many sculptures and paintings throughout the home and are further accentuated by carefully placed lighting.

The most overtly Mexican part of the house is its kitchen, with its many pieces of traditional Talavera. The classic white-and-blue motif also extends to the kitchen’s stovetop chimney and tiled table. 

Another of the home’s stylistic themes is symmetry — a choice that is particularly obvious when visible from the couple’s pool-facing terrace. Everything here comes in twos, starting with the palm trees on either side of the pool and the matching ironwork doors framing of Benjamín’s art studio. This sense of symmetry seamlessly guides one’s eye to the very back of the property and two stone busts representing Benjamín and Ross, perfectly framed by a bright blue wall.  

Art abounds in the Mérida, Mexico home of Benjamín Ramírez and Ross Russell. Photo: Carlo Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The outside terrace also has, on several occasions, become a venue for some of Yucatán’s most accomplished musicians who delight the hosts as well as their guests during their famous soirées. Being the art lovers that they are, Benjamín and Ross are also patrons of the arts and have long supported Yucatán’s state symphony. 

After retiring from DuPont and his life as a medical doctor, Benjamín decided to formally pursue what he describes as his second career, art. In his studio, Benjamín shows us pieces for an upcoming exhibition based on the poem “Dos Cuerpos,” by Octavio Paz. “The poem is about two people, a couple, their love, but also intense conflict,” he says. Benjamín’s art is abstract in nature and favors the use of blue — a choice mirrored throughout the household.

A version of this story originally appeared in Yucatán Magazine’s At Home edition. Subscribe here.

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