Sep 242020
Why did German artist Trude Neuhaus visit Lake Chapala in the 1920s?

In researching the artists and authors associated with Lake Chapala, I now have a long list of enigmatic references to lesser known artists, whose life and work remain very much a mystery. One of the more intriguing is a “Miss Trude Neuhaus,” a German artist, show, according to the New York Times of 1 Nov […]

Sep 172020
Short story set at Lake Chapala by José López Portillo y Rojas (1850-1923)

José López Portillo y Rojas (1850-1923) was born in Guadalajara. He graduated as a lawyer in Guadalajara in 1871, before spending three years traveling in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. On his return, he published his first book: Egypt and Palestine. Notes from a trip (1874). He began an illustrious political career as […]

Sep 092020
Award-winning Californian artist Priscilla Frazer spent a decade in Chapala

Priscilla (“Pris”) Frazer (1907-1973) was active in the Lake Chapala area in the 1960s and early 1970s. She made her home in Chapala Haciendas and spent several months every year at Lake Chapala between summers in Laguna Beach, southern California. Priscilla Jane Frazer, known as “Percy” to her family, was born in Battle Creek, Michigan, […]

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Aug 202020
Author and poet José Ruben Romero crossed Lake Chapala on a steamship in about 1897

Author, poet and diplomat José Rubén Romero (1890-1952) was born in Cotija de la Paz, Michoacán. Cotija de la Paz is about thirty kilometers from the village of La Palma on Lake Chapala’s south-eastern corner. Romero’s father, an outspoken liberal, had been forced to leave the very conservative village of Cotija de la Paz, and […]

Aug 132020
Art Mystery: Does anyone recognize "Don Elpidio" of Ajijic?

Ever since I first stumbled across two woodblock prints by Raphael Greno, I have wanted to see more examples of his work, characterized by a superb eye for detail and high-quality workmanship. So imagine my surprise and delight a week ago when I received an email from a collector with images of another Ajijic print […]

Aug 062020
Verna Aardema (1911-2000) wrote "The Riddle of the Drum," a children's book related to Lake Chapala

Verna Aardema (1911-2000) was an American author of dozens of children’s books. She has no known connection to Lake Chapala beyond the fact that one of her books—The Riddle of the Drum: A Tale from Tizapán, Mexico (New York: Four Winds, 1979)—is connected with Tizapán [el Alto] on the southern shore of the lake. The […]

Jul 232020
Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher (1908-1992) described Chapala in 1941

The great food writer Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher is one of the many well-known non-fiction writers to have spent time in Chapala. Fisher wrote more than 20 food-related works and was considered by contemporaries as “the greatest food writer of our time”. The revered English poet W. H. Auden extolled the quality of her writing, […]

Jul 082020
Poet and translator Lysander Kemp played saxophone with the Jocotepec Penguins

Lysander Kemp (1920-1992) worked as a writer, professor, translator, and was head editor of the University of Texas Press from 1966 to 1975. During his tenure at UT Press, he collaborated with the Mexican writer Octavio Paz (1914-1998) on numerous translations, including the landmark book The Labyrinth of Solitude: Life and Thought in Mexico. Kemp […]

Jul 022020
After visiting Ajijic in the 1940s, artist Irma René Koen never left Mexico

After visiting Ajijic in the mid-1940s, Irma René Koen spent the remaining three decades of her life living and painting in Mexico. Koen, whose birth name was Irma Julia Köhn, was born in Rock Island, Illinois, on 8 October 1883. She graduated from Rock Island High School before briefly attending Augustana College. Despite being an […]

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Jun 252020
William English Carson visited Chapala in 1908–1909

When enthusiastic British traveler William English Carson visited Chapala in 1908–1909, he liked what he found. His book about Mexico—Mexico, the Wonderland of the South—was based on four months’ residence in the country and published just before the start of the Mexican Revolution, Carson arrived in Guadalajara in November 1908 and stayed over the New […]

Jun 112020
The mysterious author Arthur St. Hill, aka A. Gringo, visited Chapala in the 1880s

Arthur St. Hill, an English traveler about whom very little is known, arrived in Mexico in 1883. He was an observant and enthusiastic visitor. In the preface to his book Through The Land of the Aztecs (published in 1892 using the pen name ‘A Gringo’), St. Hill states that his object “is simply to give […]

Jun 042020
The important artistic legacy of Otto Butterlin, who lived in Ajijic from the 1940s

German-Mexican artist Hans Otto Butterlin (born Cologne, Germany, 26 December 1900) was only six years of age when the family emigrated from Europe to Mexico, living first in Mexico City and then Guadalajara. During the Mexican Revolution, Otto and his younger brother, Friedrich, were sent back to live with relatives in Germany. Otto attended high […]

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May 282020
George Ryga's play "Portrait of Angelica" is set in Ajijic

The Canadian playwright and novelist George Ryga (1932-1987) lived and wrote in the village of San Antonio Tlayacapan, mid-way between Chapala and Ajijic, from November, 1972 to March 1973. Ryga was sufficiently immersed in local life during his few months at Lake Chapala that it inspired him to write A Portrait of Angelica, a play […]

May 212020
Eleanor Margarite "Tink" Strother (1919-2007), portrait painter extraordinaire

Eleanor Margarite Glover, who became an acclaimed portrait painter, and lived in Ajijic 1961-1963, was born on 1 October 1919 in Big Horn, Wyoming, to a Methodist minister, shortly before the family moved to Compton, Los Angeles, California. Eleanor was the second of five children in the family. Her father nicknamed her “Tink” at an […]

May 142020
T. Phillip Terry's 1909 guide to Mexico helped put Chapala on the map

Thomas Philip Terry (1864-1945) was born in Georgetown, Kentucky. Terry first visited Mexico in his early twenties and spent 5 years working for The Mexican Financier, a Mexico City weekly, while writing a series of short stories and news reports for U.S. newspapers and completing a popular Spanish-English phrase book. Terry then lived briefly in […]

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