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Oct 172019
 

In the early 1950s, Ajijic was a center for art classes marketed primarily in the U.S. The classes and workshops attracted a wide diversity of painters of equally varied artistic backgrounds.

Several of the young students studying in Ajijic at that time went on to forge stellar careers in the art world. We looked at the extraordinary work of Barbara Zacheisz Elstob in a previous post.

In this post we focus on Jorge Fick. Born George Fick in Detroit, Michigan, in 1932, Fick changed his first name to its Hispanic version – Jorge – following his time studying art in Ajijic in 1951 and in deference to Hispanic culture.

Prior to studying in Ajijic, Fick attended Cass Technical School, a public trade school in Detroit, between 1947 and 1950, and studied at the city’s Society of Arts and Crafts from 1950 to 1951.

It is unclear how he came to study in Ajijic but it certainly had a profound impact on his life as an artist.

After Ajijic, Fick studied from 1952 to 1955 at Black Mountain College, whose faculty, at one time or another, included such artistic luminaries as Josef Albers, Anni Albers, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller and Aaron Siskind.

His decision to study at Black Mountain College immediately after Ajijic is especially interesting and may well have been prompted by one of his teachers in Mexico. The art workshops in Ajijic were led by local artist Ernesto Butterlin, ably assisted by “Nick” Muzenic. Alexander Nicolas Muzenic (1919-1976) had studied at Black Mountain College, under the legendary Josef Albers, from about 1945 to 1948 before moving to Ajijic. Albers and his wife, Anni, subsequently visited the village for a few days – to reconnect with their former student – and this may have coincided with Fick’s study visit. It is tempting to speculate that Muzenic, perhaps with help from Albers, persuaded Fick to attend Black Mountain College.

Jorge Fick. 1952. Where War Is. Credit: Eric Firestone Gallery

Jorge Fick. 1952. Where War Is. Credit: Eric Firestone Gallery

In 1953, Fick was staying in New York when he lent a suit to poet and author Dylan Thomas, who wore it three days before he died. The suit was returned to Fick and is now proudly displayed in the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea, Wales.

Fick’s tutors at Black Mountain College were Franz Kline, Philip Guston, Jack Tworkov, Joseph Fiore, Esteban Vicente (collage) and Peter Voulkos (pottery). He thrived in the liberal artistic atmosphere of the college and graduated in 1955 with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree. After graduating, Fick shared a studio in New York for some time with Kline, his college mentor. Kline had previously invited Fick to exhibit at the Stable Gallery and had encouraged him to explore abstract expressionism.

Jorge Fick. 1965. Zoroaster.

Jorge Fick. 1965. Zoroaster.

In 1958, Fick moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. He spent the remainder of his life (he died in 2004) in New Mexico, dividing his time between Santa Fe and Taos. He made significant contributions to the art scene in New Mexico. In addition to developing his own painting techniques, including large-scale “Pod” oil paintings that combine abstraction, Pop art and cartoons, Fick also printed Eliot Porter’s environmental photographs (1962-1968), acted as a color consultant to architect-designer, Alexander Girard, responsible for the rebrand of Braniff Airlines, and collaborated with Cynthia Homire on glazed stoneware pieces.

Between 1969 and 1983, Fick ran “The Fickery” Gallery and Art Space at 720 Canyon Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Fick’s paintings won numerous awards. His work featured in numerous solo and group shows including the Museum of New Mexico Biennial (1971, 1998); the International Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe (1971, 1972); Colorado Springs Fine Arts Museum (1972); Roswell Museum (1972); Taos Artist Association Annual (1994); St. John’s College, Santa Fe (solo show, 1994); Albuquerque Museum (1996).

Examples of Fick’s paintings can be seen in many important public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Harwood Museum, Taos; New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe; Phoenix Art Museum; Roswell Museum; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts.

Sources

Comments, corrections or additional material related to any of the writers and artists featured in our series of mini-bios are welcome. Please use the comments feature at the bottom of individual posts, or email us.

Oct 182017
 

Sombrero Books is pleased to announce that Jan Dunlap’s debut novel – Dilemma – is now available for Kindle readers at the very attractive price of US$2.90. The regular print version (real books are nice!) will be published early next month, well in time for those Christmas gifts!

In her exciting debut novel, Dilemma, Jan Dunlap weaves a page-turning tale of international romance, drugs and intrigue, loosely based on events and characters from her past.

The novel, set mainly at Lake Chapala in Mexico, takes us back to the 1970s. Natalie, a beautiful young DEA agent, is sent to investigate an alleged king-pin in the drugs world who lives in Ajijic. Her life soon becomes far more complicated than she bargained for.

Jan Dunlap, the author, was born and raised in small-town Texas and has a formal background in sociology.

She spent ten years in Puerto Rico – where she met Fidel Castro – and more than twenty years in Mexico, where she owned a restaurant-art gallery and bar. Completely bilingual, Jan has always loved to write and has completed several novels and screenplays.

The cover artwork is by Oliver Rivas, one of the author’s grandsons.

The Kindle edition of Dilemma can be purchased on all Amazon sites, including:

After reading the book, please consider leaving a review on Amazon, Goodreads or similar site.

The print version will be released in early November.

Enjoy!

Aug 172015
 

Dated 1981, these Georg Rauch designs for a children’s playground demonstrate the versatility of this amazing artist.

Georg Rauch: Playground designs, 1981

Georg Rauch: Playground designs, 1981. Click image to enlarge.

Georg’s widow, Phyllis Rauch, has kindly shared the following recollections related to Georg’s interest in playgrounds, and to these designs in particular:

“Georg designed a number of large playground pieces for a famous park in Vienna. When he arrived in the United States he was still fascinated by the topic and we visited playgrounds wherever we went – especially in New York.

When we moved to Mexico, Georg designed a very large and amazing playground for the town of El Molino, near Jocotepec. At the time there wasn’t even a church there, only a bell. The completed playground, utilizing all things that are freely available and could be replaced, was inaugurated by the then Governor of Jalisco’s first lady.

Sadly the only thing we didn’t take into consideration was upkeep, a fund for replacing tires, ropes etc., and over the years it basically disappeared. But I’m sure there are people in their late 40s and 50s who remember it well and enjoyed playing there.

Georg’s first and only stipulation was that a bathroom first be built and installed.

Sometimes when returning from Guadalajara, I think I can see it still there, among the many homes that have since been built.”

When Georg Rauch later learned that the Lakeside School for the Deaf (now the School for Special Children) in Jocotepec planned to build new play equipment, he gave the designs to Gwen Chan, the school’s director from 1985 to 1994. Some of Rauch’s designs were subsequently incorporated into the deaf school’s play equipment.

Related posts:

Jan 042014
 

Village In The Sun by Dane Chandos (reprint by Tlayacapan Press, 1998)

chandos-village-in-the-sunIn the early 1940s, an Englishman Dane Chandos (the pen name for a two-man writing team) decided to settle in a small village on Lake Chapala. This is a most welcome reprint of the much sought-after, highly entertaining account of his adventures during his first year in Mexico. As he builds his home, Chandos absorbs local customs while bonding with a colorful cast of characters. A delightful book!

Softcover, 259 pages. Dimensions (in inches): 8.3 x 5.45 x 0.6 Price: US$15.00 [plus shipping – contact us for details]

Written in the early 1940s, Village In The Sun is still considered to be one of the most endearing books written about Mexico to this day. Set in the area of Ajijic, Jalisco, it gives a delightful view of the Mexicans and their culture without criticism and judgment. The story is a most entertaining month-by-month account of an Englishman weathering his first year in Ajijic. It is written in a time when the road from Chapala to Jocotepec was a muddy trail and steam bed washouts were part of life during the rainy season. Ice was delivered by bus from Guadalajara, dropped off by the side of the road and left in the sun. In the process of building his house, the author gradually absorbs local customs while bonding with a colorful cast of characters.

Related books:

All three books “House in the Sun”, “Village in the Sun” and “Candelaria’s Cookbook” are delightful and essential reading for anyone who cares about the spirit of Mexico and its people. The sale of these books helps fund an educational program for young people living in the village of San Antonio Tlayacapan, where the books are set.

 Posted by at 12:26 pm
Jan 042014
 

House In The Sun by Dane Chandos (reprint by Tlayacapan Press, 1999)

chandos-house-in-sunThis is the classic account of how an expatriate Englishman Dane Chandos (the pen name for a two-man writing team) ran an hotel in a Lake Chapala village fifty years ago – “a magical place where anything can happen–and frequently does!”.

Softcover, 246 pages. Dimensions (in inches): 8.3 x 5.45 x 0.6. Price: US$15.00 [plus shipping – contact us for details]

“The house which he was building in Ajijic, on Lake Chapala, south of Guadalajara, is now nearing completion and, at the time of which he writes, is converted to a small inn taking a few paying guests. Here, Dane Chandos unfolds his day-to-day adventures as “Señor of the Inn,” an amateur hotelier who is at the mercy of both his loyal, unpredictable and often maddening servants, and of his equally unpredictable and maddening – though never boring – guests. All this is set forth with tender understanding and captivating wit against the background of the primitive little village which lies “between the lake and the paws of the mountains,” where anything can happen.” (review by Alan Cogan)

House In The Sun has more descriptive details about Mexico than the previous book by Dane Chandos – Village In The Sun  – as the author occasionally takes his guests on sightseeing trips including a pilgrimage to the Virgin of Zapopan, a canoa trip around the lake, and a drive to Uruapan to see the still-erupting volcano at Paricutin.

Related books:

All three books “House in the Sun”, “Village in the Sun” and “Candelaria’s Cookbook” are delightful and essential reading for anyone who cares about the spirit of Mexico and its people. The sale of these books helps fund an educational program for young people living in the village of San Antonio Tlayacapan, where the books are set.

 Posted by at 12:26 pm
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