Sep 292022
 
Grant Risdon: adventurer, artist, raconteur and all-round lover of Mexico

In the early 1960s, Grant Risdon, a student at San Francisco Art Institute, lived in Chapala for some time. Risdon, a larger than life character, became friends with guitarist Jim Byers, and the two men rented rooms in El Manglar, the extensive lakeside estate in San Antonio Tlayacapan. Scott Hampson, who visited his half-sister Beverly […]

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Sep 222022
 
The wonderful paintings and drawings of Luis Sahagun Cortes (1900-1978)

According to his birth certificate, painter and art educator Luis Sahagún Cortés was born in the town of Sahuayo, Michoacán, on 20 November 1900 (and not on 20 May as stated in some online biographies). His parents were well educated: his mother (Petra Cortés, or Cortéz as on his birth certificate) was a teacher and […]

Sep 152022
 
Classical guitarist Jim Byers painted El Manglar in 1961

Sometimes amateur artists paint something close to unique. Jim Byers, born in about 1940, first visited Lake Chapala in 1960 after graduating from Berkeley High School, California. He remained in Mexico for three years before returning north to study for a degree in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. For part of this […]

Aug 252022
 
Art Mystery: Who is 'daniel,' the artist responsible for these drawings of Lake Chapala?

Six small (postcard size) pen and ink drawings of Lake Chapala came into my possession a year or two ago. Their quality is undeniable (see the two shown below), but I have yet to identify the artist. They are believed to date from 1968. All six line drawings are signed ‘daniel’ (all lower case): If […]

Aug 042022
 
Artist Herbert Rhodes lived in Ajiic in the early 1960s

Painter Herbert (Herb) Rhodes, the fourth husband of calendar artist and illustrator Zoe Mozert, lived in Ajijic in the early 1960s. Rhodes, who had been married previously, married Mozert in 1958; the couple divorced two years later, but remained good friends and art companions. Little is known about Rhodes’ background, early life or education. Six […]

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Jul 212022
 
Zoë Mozert: from blonde bombshell pin-up girl to hugely successful calendar artist

American pin-up girl and painter Zoë Mozert (1907-1993) lived and exhibited her artwork at Lake Chapala in the 1960s. Mozert (birth name Alice Adelaide Moser) was born in Colorado Springs on 27 April 1907 and began painting at the age of four. After the family moved to Pennsylvania, Zoë attended Fairfax Hall, a prestigious private […]

Jul 142022
 
Portraitist Richard Kitchen lived at Lake Chapala in the 1970s

The renowned Hollywood portraitist Richard Kitchen lived in San Antonio Tlayacapan in the 1970s. Born in England, the details of Kitchen’s early upbringing and education are currently unknown. But by the 1940s he was already well known as a portrait painter in California. For example, the Los Angeles Times reported in December 1943 that Mrs […]

Jun 302022
 
Californian journalist Vida Shepard spent several winters at Lake Chapala in the mid-1950s

Vida Hills Shepard (1885-1972) was a journalist who spent several winters in Chapala in the mid-1950s. Shepard was a regular columnist for The Chico Enterprise-Record in California, and several of her columns make reference to her multiple visits to Chapala. She first visited in late 1954, writing in an early column how she had rented […]

Jun 162022
 
Florida-based artist Mona Jordan and her 1961 “Tarascans, Ajijic” painting

Mona Jordan (1908-1995), a multi-talented and much traveled artist, exhibited a painting titled “Tarascans, Ajijic” in Florida in 1961. Gladys “Mona” Lynch Jordan was born on 12 November 1908 at West Point, Orange County, New York, and died at the age of 86 on 28 September 1995 in Annandale, Fairfax County, Virginia. Her remains are […]

Jun 092022
 
After visiting Ajijic in 1978, Taylor Caldwell signed a multi-million-dollar deal for two novels

Taylor Caldwell (1900-1985), a prolific author of best-selling novels, spent two weeks at the Touch of Eden health spa in the Hotel Real de Chapala in 1978. At the time of her visit, Janet Miriam Holland Taylor Caldwell (her birth name) was married to Robert Prestie and going by her married name. Lake Chapala Artists […]

May 262022
 
Rowena Girault Kirkpatrick painted and gave art classes in San Antonio Tlayacapan in the early 1970s

Rowena Girault was a prolific painter and sculptor. Multi-faceted, multi-talented, and almost entirely self-taught, she moved to San Antonio Tlayacapan (with her husband, Frank) in the late 1960s and spent the remainder of her life there. Rowena Katherine Girault was born to Peter Girault and Catherine Price in Chicago on 24 December 1914. The 1920 […]

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May 122022
 
Julian Pulido: talented Ajijic artist who died tragically young

Julián Pulido Pedrosa was one of the group of talented artists who formed the Jovenes Pintores de Ajijic (Young Painters of Ajijic) in 1977. Tragically, a decade later, Ajijic-born Pulido died on the highway between Tuxcueca and Tizapán el Alto in mysterious circumstances, while still a young man, not yet thirty years of age. He […]

Apr 072022
 
Howard Fryer and “El Nitty Gritty,” his provocative memoir of thirty years at Lake Chapala

Howard Fryer’s memoir, El Nitty Gritty, published in 2010, is perhaps the most deliberately provocative account of life at Lake Chapala ever written. Who was Howard Fryer, and what did he write? Who was Howard Fryer? Born in Reading, UK, on 11 March 1941, Fryer was only a young child when he moved with his […]

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Mar 242022
 
Artist-explorer Tobias Schneebaum began his worldwide adventures in Ajijic in the late 1940s

Tobias (“Toby”) Schneebaum (1922-2005) was a gay artist, author, adventurer and activist, best known for living among, and documenting, the Amarakaeri people of Amazonian Peru and the Asmat people of the southwestern part of the island of New Guinea. Before these trips into the tropical jungle, Schneebaum had lived in Ajijic for several years, and […]

Mar 102022
 
Charles Kaufman dedicated his novel "Fiesta in Manhattan" to the people of Ajijic

The distinguished American screenplay writer Charles Kaufman (1904-1991) was in his mid-twenties when he lived for several months in Ajijic in 1929, with his girlfriend, Edith Huntsman. A decade later, he dedicated his first and only novel – Fiesta in Manhattan – “To the good people of Ajijíc.” (Note that Ajijic is normally written without […]

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Feb 242022
 
Do you own a painting by Peg Kittinger?

Peg Kittinger is one of the mystery artists associated with Lake Chapala. “Mrs L B (Peg) Kittinger” was an artist and art teacher who lived in Chapala for about nine years, from 1955 to 1964. Her address in Chapala in 1955 was Morelos #181, though she apparently later had a home in Chula Vista. Hazel […]

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Feb 102022
 
Helen Creighton, Canadian folklorist, visited Chapala at about the same time as D H Lawrence

Mary Helen Creighton, usually known simply as Helen Creighton, was born into an upper-class family in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, on 5 September 1899, and became one of Canada’s most prominent folklorists. Her career spanned sixty years, and she gained an international reputation in the field. After gaining a diploma in music from McGill University in […]

Jan 272022
 
Art mystery: Who is "Ellen" who painted this fun and vibrant view titled "Chapala"?

This fun and vibrant painting titled “Chapala” was offered at auction in New York in August 2021. The painting, an oil on canvas measuring 30 x 24 inches, signed “Ellen” and dated 1967, was attributed in the auction listing to Ellen Black, with the additional details that “Ellen Black (20th Century) was active/lived in California. […]

Dec 192021
 
A Christmas Potpourri of Lake Chapala Links

A number of artists and authors associated with Lake Chapala have clear links to Christmas. Admittedly, some links are more tenuous than others. Here, in no particular order, are a few of those that come to mind: German-born photographer Hugo Brehme, who  photographed Lake Chapala, and many of whose superb black-and-white postcard images are hauntingly […]

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Dec 022021
 
Watercolorist Ben Shute painted Ajijic in 1951

Watercolorist and art educator Ben Shute enjoyed extended trips in Mexico on several occasions and visited Ajijic in 1951. Two watercolors from that visit are now in the permanent collections of art institutions in the US. Benjamin Edgar Shute was born in Altoona, Wisconsin on 13 July 1905, and studied at the Art Institute of […]

Nov 182021
 
American poet Anthony Ostroff was underwhelmed by Lake Chapala

Anthony Ostroff (1923-1978) was born in Gary, Indiana and educated at Northwestern University, the University of Michigan, the Sorbonne, and the University of Grenoble. Ostroff wrote a short poem entitled: “Lake Chapala” which was published in 1977 in his A Fall in Mexico (Garden City, New York: Doubleday). Ostroff traveled widely in Mexico (the date […]

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