The Clique Ajijic was a group of eight varied and talented artists who formed a loosely-organized collective for three or four years in the mid-1970s. One of the members, Synnove Pettersen, recalls that “We never painted together as a group, just had shows.” Another member, the late Tom Faloon, once commented to me that Kate Karns, the wife of Todd Karns, sometimes posed for the artists in Clique Ajijic.
The eight artists in the Clique Ajijic were (below, left to right): Sidney Schwartzman, Adolfo Riestra, Gail Michel (aka Gail Michaels), Hubert Harmon, Synnove (Shaffer) Pettersen, Tom Faloon, Todd (“Rocky”) Karns, and John Peterson (the only member of Clique Ajijic who had been a member of the earlier Grupo 68).
See also: Photo of Clique Ajijic and friends at Galería OM, 24 October 1975.
The group’s first shows were organized by Katie Goodridge Ingram who ran the Galería del Lago art gallery, located at that time on the main highway in Ajijic. The shows of Clique Ajijic included:
- Chapala: Villa Monte Carlo, opened 16 March 1975
- Ajijic: Galería del Lago (Colón #6, Ajijic), 15 August 1975
- Ajijic: Hotel Camino Real, 13-16 September 1975
- Guadalajara: Galería OM, 24 October 1975
- Manzanillo: Club Santiago, 29 October 1975
- Cuernavaca: Akari Gallery, 7 February 1976
- Guadalajara: American Society of Jalisco, 21 February 1976
- Ajijic: El Angel boutique, 10 June 1976 (dinner and studio sale)
By the end of the year, two of the original 8 artists of Clique Ajijic had left the village – Pettersen to the U.S. and Riestra to Tepoztlán (Morelos) – and the remaining members had added Richard Frush to their number. David Olof is also mentioned in one list of artists at the following show:
- Ajijic: The Old Gold Mill, 15 December 1976 (a wine and cheese ($50 pesos a person) to benefit “Deaf Children of Ajijic”).
- Ajijic: Posada Ajijic, February/March 1977 (exhibition, auction, charity fundraiser, precise date unknown)
- Ajijic: Posada Ajijic, 18 December 1977
The Clique Ajijic auction of artwork held at Posada Ajijic in February 1977 included works by Richard Frush, Tod Karns, John Peterson, Gail Michel and Hubert Harmon raised $24,000 pesos, “of which 10% went to help children in treatment and training at the Hearing Improvement Center in Jocotepec.” The auctioneer was popular Posada Ajijic hotelier Morley Eager, who gave 10% of all the pesos paid for drinks to the same cause.
In December 1977, another art exhibit of Clique Ajijic work, which proved to be the final throw of the dice for the group, was presented at the Posada Ajijic. The advert for this exhibit stated that the Clique had 9 members, presumably still including Pettersen and Riestro who had left the previous year.
Note: This is an updated version of a post first published on 4 May 2015.
- My sincere thanks to Synnove Pettersen (via email), Tom Faloon (interviewed in Ajijic in February 2014), Katie Goodridge Ingram (emails and telephone), and Gail Michel and her daughter Angelina Guzmán (emails and telephone) for generously sharing their knowledge and memories of Clique Ajijic.
- Colony (Guadalajara) Reporter, 19 Feb 1977; 5 March 1977, 10 December 1977
- Martha Fregoso. 1975. “‘La Galería OM’ y el Buen Gusto en Exposiciones, Esta vez Ocho Pintores de Ajijic.” El Diario de Guadalajara, 24 Oct 1975.
- Mexico City News: 13 Feb 1977.
Sombrero Books welcomes comments, corrections or additional material related to any of the writers and artists featured in our series of mini-bios. Please use the comments feature at the bottom of individual posts, or email us.
Tony Burton’s books include “Lake Chapala: A Postcard History” (2022), “Foreign Footprints in Ajijic” (2022), “If Walls Could Talk: Chapala’s historic buildings and their former occupants” (2020), (available in translation as “Si Las Paredes Hablaran”), “Mexican Kaleidoscope” (2016), and “Lake Chapala Through the Ages” (2008).