Nov 262020
 
Jesús Acal Ilisaliturri (1856-1902) and his poem "El Chapala"

Jesus Acal Ilisaliturri (sometimes “Ilizaliturri”) was born in Guadalajara on 16 August 1856 and died in the city on 25 September 1902. Acal’s parents were Ignacio Acal Ilizaliturri and Josefa Ilizaliturri. Acal left school after secundaria and was a founding member of two literary circles: “La Aurora Literaria” and “La Bohemia Jalisciense.” Acal, who married […]

Nov 122020
 
Non-fiction author Joseph Cottler first visited Ajijic in the 1950s

Educator, writer and musician Joseph (“Joe”) Cottler and his wife, Betty, first drove south from Philadelphia to Ajijic in about 1957. They returned to the village several times. About 20 years later, following Betty’s death, Joe brought his second wife, Harriet Linton Barr, to Lake Chapala. Cottler, a high school teacher, mostly wrote biographies of […]

Nov 052020
 
Herbert Johnson's photos: Archaeological Sites (1940s)

Herbert Johnson (1877-1960) and his wife, Georgette (1893-1975), settled in Ajijic in December 1939. Shortly after Herbert died in Ajijic in 1960, Georgette returned to live in the UK. These photographs come from a photo album that once belonged to Georgette. For the story of its rediscovery by historian Dr Kimberly Lamay Licursi in an […]

Nov 052020
 
Herbert Johnson's photos: Xochimilco (1940s)

Herbert Johnson (1877-1960) and his wife, Georgette (1893-1975), settled in Ajijic in December 1939. Shortly after Herbert died in Ajijic in 1960, Georgette returned to live in the UK. These photographs come from a photo album that once belonged to Georgette. For the story of its rediscovery by historian Dr Kimberly Lamay Licursi in an […]

Nov 052020
 
Herbert Johnson's photos from the 1940s

One of the delights of writing this blog has been the number of readers who have reached out to me with further information about the artists and writers I’ve written about. This has greatly improved the blog and resulted in some valuable virtual friendships. A case in point. A year ago, a chance find at […]

Oct 292020
 
Does anyone recognize the subject of this François de Brouillette painting?

François de Brouillette was an accomplished artist, art restorer and poet. Born in Vermont on 22 April 1906, de Brouillette died in Santa Barbara, California, on 12 February 1972. De Brouillette was especially well known during his lifetime for his sensitive and striking portraits. This painting was shared with us by a reader who found […]

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Oct 222020
 
Josefa, the "mother of Mexican fashion design"

Josefa, the fashion designer credited with showcasing Mexican styles on the world haute couture stage, lived and worked for many years at Lake Chapala. She successfully melded indigenous Mexican colors and elements with functional design to produce elegant and original dresses and blouses. Josefa designs were never mass-produced but made by local women in small […]

Oct 152020
 
The Ajijic Art Workshop in the 1950s

Educator, translator and all-round good guy John Upton had been living in Ajijic for about a year when he submitted an article about the village in 1951 to the  San Francisco Chronicle. The article focuses especially on the impact of the summer Ajijic Art Workshop, marketed in US colleges and universities. Upton opens by describing […]

Oct 082020
 
Roy MacNicol's adventurous life and artistic career

Roy Vincent MacNicol (1889-1970), “Paintbrush Ambassador of Goodwill”, had an extraordinary artistic career, even if his personal life was sometimes confrontational. The American painter, designer, writer and lecturer had close ties to Chapala for many years: in 1954, he bought and remodeled the house in Chapala that had been rented in 1923 by English author […]

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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, who, 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 […]

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