Aug 302018
Virginia Downs Miller, non-fiction writer, moved to Lake Chapala in the 1980s

Mexican-born Virginia Downs (1914-2005) was the third wife of William (“Bill”) Colfax Miller. After their marriage in November 1969, the Millers lived in Cuernavaca, where they co-owned an art gallery, before moving first to the U.S. for a year and then, in about 1982, to Lake Chapala, where Virginia Miller was a prolific writer of […]

Aug 232018
Ignacio Arzapalo photographed Chapala in the 1890s

In the early 1990s, a small number of photos signed “Arzapalo” were included in J. Jesús González Gallo’s book Aquellos tiempos en Chapala. Judging by their subject matter, the Arzapalo who took these photographs was almost certainly Ignacio Arzapalo Palacios (1837-1909), though there is a small possibility that they were the work of his son, […]

Aug 162018
Cinematographer William Colfax Miller lived at Lake Chapala in the 1980s

Writer, actor and cinematographer William Colfax Miller (1911-1995) had worked in the film industry in Hollywood and Mexico, before he moved to Lake Chapala with his third wife, Virginia Downs Miller (1914-2005), in the early 1980s. Miller was born on 29 May 1911 in South Dakota. He moved to Chicago after graduating from high school […]

Aug 092018
Chapala-born artist Jorge Seimandi painted for pleasure not profit

Chapala-born Jorge Seimandi Ramírez was a highly-respected art educator at the University of Guadalajara for more than 40 years. He was not interested in the commercial side of art and his own work was rarely sold or exhibited. Seimandi was born in Chapala on 2 February 1929, the son of Italian-born businessman Juan Seimandi and […]

Aug 022018
Dane Chandos, part three: Anthony Stansfeld and the Mexican detective Don Pancho

Anthony Ralph Wolryche Stansfeld was born in Winchester, Hampshire, on 4 March 1913. It is unclear how he and Peter Lilley first met, though they were very close in age. Continuing the pen name Dane Chandos, the duo wrote two travelogues: Journey in the Sun (a trip from Mexico to Spain) and The Trade Wind […]

Jul 052018
Juan Kaiser published some of the earliest postcards of Lake Chapala

Swiss-born publisher Juan Kaiser (1858-1916) published some of the earliest postcards of Lake Chapala. His early postcards of the lake, dating back to the start of the 20th century were multi-views, with three small images on each card. Kaiser was born in Leuzigen, Bern, Switzerland in 1858. In 1881, at the age of 23, he […]

Jun 282018
American artist Everett Gee Jackson painted at Lake Chapala in the 1920s

Everett Gee Jackson (1900-1995), the renowned American painter, illustrator and art educator, lived at Lake Chapala, apart from some short breaks, from 1923 to 1926 (and returned there in 1950 and 1968). Jackson loved Mexico and during his first visit to Chapala he became intimately acquainted with the artistic creativity of Mexico’s ancient pre-Columbian civilizations, […]

Jun 212018
Artist and serial prankster Jim Moran lived in Ajijic in the mid-1980s

Ajijic has certainly attracted more than its fair share of strange and colorful characters over the years but perhaps nobody with quite so many true tales to spin as serial prankster Jim Moran. By the time Moran “retired” to Ajijic, he was almost 80 years old and had put his pranks behind him. Tall, rotund, […]

Jun 072018
Dane Chandos, part one: Nigel Millett

In the 1940s, two superbly written books introduced readers in the U.S. and U.K. to life in the village of Ajijic. Both have remained perennial favorites on the must-read lists of anyone interested in Lake Chapala. Village in the Sun and House in the Sun were both written by “Dane Chandos”, who later wrote several […]

May 292018
Illustrator and graphic artist John Russell Clift visited Lake Chapala in the early 1950s

John Russell Clift wrote, and illustrated with original serigraphs, “Chapala-Mexico’s Shangri-La”, published in Ford Times, the monthly magazine of the Ford Motor Company in October 1953. The article was published in Ford Times,. Volume 45 # 10 (October 1953) pp 34-39. The article, with illustrations, was reprinted on in its October 2003 edition, to […]

May 242018
Lowell Houser painted in Chapala and Ajijic for several years in the mid-1920s

Lowell D. Houser (1902-1971) lived and painted in Chapala, and later Ajijic, in the mid-1920s. He was subsequently hired to paint copies of Mayan murals for an archaeological survey of the Yucatán Peninsula. Houser was born in Chicago on 18 May 1902. During his childhood, the family moved to Iowa, where Houser graduated from Ames […]

May 102018
Film and TV actor Norman Burton moved to Ajijic in 1998

Among those active in the Lakeside Little Theater twenty-plus years ago was Norman Schnall (1923-2003) who moved to Ajijic with his wife, Claire, in 1998. Schnall’s professional name as a film and television actor was Norman Burton. As a stage and screen actor, Schnall appeared in more than 40 movies, including Pretty Boy Floyd (1960), […]

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May 022018
The great silver designer Hubert Pickering Harmon lived his last 30 years at Lake Chapala

Painter, jeweler, and accessory designer Hubert Pickering Harmon Jr. (1913-2004) was born into a wealthy family in Evanston, Illinois, on 23 October 1913. The family home was in the Highland Park district and the whole family spent time in Europe even during Harmon’s childhood. After high school, Harmon chose to study design at the Parsons […]

Apr 262018
Talented visual artist Sidney Schwartzman influenced an entire generation of Ajijic artists

The talented visual artist Sidney Schwartzman was born in New York City on 2 June 1917 and lived almost thirty years in Ajijic from about 1973 until his death there, at the age of 84, on 27 March 2002. Schwartzman, the son of two Russian-born immigrants, grew up in New York and was a member […]

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Apr 192018
Art Mystery: Who is the artist of this silkscreen?

This interesting picture recently came to light in Ajijic. It is (to the best of my knowledge) unsigned and undated. It appears to be a silkscreen rather than a painting. Does anyone recognize this work or have suggestions as to who the artist might be? Thanks, in advance, for any help you can offer. Previous […]

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