Feb 022023
Calvin Tomkins completed his first novel while living at Lake Chapala

Calvin Tomkins, who later wrote extensively for Newsweek and the New Yorker, completed his first novel Intermission while staying at Lake Chapala. The autobiographical novel was first published by Viking Press, New York, in 1951. The book is not set at the lake; its locales are Santa Fe, New York and New Jersey. It explores […]

Jan 262023
Art Mystery: Who painted this 1962 painting?

Does anyone recognize the artist who painted this attractive gouache of a village scene? It is dated ’62. The indistinct signature is currently illegible; we have an expert attempting to decipher it. The signature appears to include the letters “PET” in block capitals, which may be the start of “PETER.” Meanwhile, any and all suggestions […]

Jan 192023
Playwright Sam McCulloch thought that Ajijic was crawling with 'Americans' in the 1950s

Multilingual playwright Samuel McCulloch (1921-1991) and his wife, Jennie, lived in an old adobe house in Ajijic for six years from 1956 to 1962. In a 1958 press interview, McCulloch told a reporter that in Ajijic he was writing plays, working daily from 11 am to 7 pm, with a break for lunch, and that […]

Jan 052023
The origin of the popular Mexican saying about “Dust on my Heart”

One of the modern myths of Lakeside is that long term American resident and benefactor Neill James, author of Dust on my Heart, was the originator of the phrase “When once the dust of Mexico has settled upon your heart, you cannot then find peace in any other land.” Dust on my Heart, published in […]

Dec 292022
Did Bert Pumphrey, whose art is highly collectible, ever live at Lake Chapala?

Despite several popular art sites listing Bert Pumphrey’s exhibitions as including three in Ajijic, I have yet to find any details for them. Pumphrey’s distinctive work is so highly collectible, that he would certainly deserve a place among the Lakeside greats (and in the Ajijic Museum of Art) if his association with Lake Chapala can […]

Dec 152022
Renowned Japanese artist Masaharu Shimada found inspiration in San Antonio Tlayacapan

Japanese artist Masaharu Shimada, who specializes in sumi-e pen and ink drawings and has held dozens of acclaimed exhibitions in Mexico and his native Japan, lived for several months each year in San Antonio Tlayacapan from 1986 onwards. His exquisite works include numerous evocative monochrome impressionist landscapes of Ajijic and San Antonio Tlayacapan. Sumi-e, which […]

Dec 082022
Post-1970 writing about the Ajijic retirement community

By the 1970s the Ajijic retirement community was sufficiently established that it attracted academic attention. The earliest study, never formally published, was by Dr Edwin G Flittie, a professor of sociology at the University of Wyoming. Flittie visited in 1973 and subsequently presented copies of “Retirement in the Sun,” his analysis of the retirement community, […]

Dec 012022
Robert Clutton painted in Ajijic from about 1959 to 1961

Robert Clutton (1932-2016) lived in Ajijic from about 1959 to 1961. His time in Mexico introduced him to the pantheon of ancient Aztec and Maya gods which so strongly influenced much of his later art. He revisited Ajijic several times after this initial extended stay in the village. “Bob” Clutton, “Roberto” to his Mexican friends, […]

Nov 172022
British surrealist painter Bruce Sherratt lived in Jocotepec in the late 1960s

Artist and international art educator Bruce Robert Sherratt and his first wife, Lesley Jervis, a British sculptor, lived in Jocotepec at the western end of Lake Chapala, from 1968 to 1970. Prior to their arrival in Mexico, they had lived and traveled for some time in the USA. Bruce Robert Sherratt was born in Biddulph, […]

Nov 102022
Norman D Ford on how Ajijic changed between 1950 and 1970

Inveterate world traveler Norman D Ford (1921-2009) described Lake Chapala and Ajijic in several of his books, including in Bargain Paradises of the World (1952). By 1970, he had decided that Lake Chapala was “no longer the cheapest place in Mexico. Since 1950, about 1,500 American couples have moved into its two dreamy villages of […]

Nov 032022
Noted encaustic artist Alice de Boton painted in Ajijic in the early 1970s

Alice de Boton (1906-2010) started an art school in California, painted in Ajijic in the early 1970s, and continued to paint regularly until well after celebrating her 100th birthday. Born in Jaffa, Palestine, on 25 December 1906, de Boton painted from childhood. After her family moved to France, she took painting classes in Paris and […]

Oct 202022
Classical guitarist Philip Rosheger composed “Clear Southern Sky” in Chapala in 2008

Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Philip Rosheger (1950-2013) began his musical career with childhood piano lessons before taking up the guitar in 1962. His progression as a guitarist was exceptionally rapid. By his mid-teens, he was taking master classes in Spain with José Tomás and the legendary Andrés Segovia, and his protégés, José Tomás and […]

Oct 132022
American ‘mural’ painter Thurston Munson had a winter studio in Chapala in the late 1980s

Thurston Wells Munson was in his eighties when he decided to have a winter studio in Chapala in 1988. Munson had already enjoyed an extraordinarily varied artistic career since first studying art in his teens. “Tee” Munson was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts, on 24 April 1906 and died there at the age of 92 on […]

Oct 062022
Painter and sculptor Stanley Fullerton lived in Chapala in the early 1960s

Painter, print maker and sculptor Stanley (“Stan”) Fullerton (1935-2018) lived in Chapala in the early 1960s and subsequently became a successful painter in the Santa Cruz area, California. Born in Portland, Oregon, on 19 January 1935, Fullerton had already exhibited at the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco (one of the favorite venues of Beat […]

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 […]

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 […]

Sep 082022
Sarah Hunt Shearer married, honeymooned and painted at Lake Chapala in 1941

Sarah Hunt Shearer was born on 30 November 1919 and raised in Buffalo, New York. Her parents—Dr. Augustus Shearer, the director of the Grosvenor Library in Buffalo, and Inez Shearer, an artist—lived in Buffalo but also had a summer home in the village of South Wales, New York. Sarah graduated from The Park School in […]

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 […]

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 […]

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