Jul 042024
 

Ajijic’s unofficial photographer in the early 1970s was free-spirited Beverly Johnson (1933-1976), one of the many people who helped make Ajijic tick in what old timers still remember as the ‘good old days.’ Beverly and her five young children moved to Mexico in the early 1960s and settled in Ajijic, where she hoped to eke out a living from singing.

Photo of Beverly Johnson by Helen Goodridge. Reproduced by kind permission of Jill Maldonado.

Photo of Beverly Johnson in Ajijic by Helen Goodridge. Reproduced by kind permission of Jill Maldonado.

The tenuous roots that she initially put down in Ajijic grew steadily over the years, despite her premature death in 1976, and her children have maintained ties to the village that endure to this day.

As Ajijic’s unofficial village photographer, Beverly was often asked to shoot personal portraits, wedding photos, landscape shots, first communions, baptisms and even portraits of recently deceased children for their families to remember them by.

At least one exhibition of Beverly’s photos was held in Ajijic. It was in about 1971 at the Galería del Lago (now the Ajijic Cultural Center), next to the old movie house. One of Beverly’s daughters recalls that her mother’s photos were also exhibited by Laura Bateman, who held shows in her own home before opening Ajijic’s first purpose-built gallery, Rincón del Arte at Hidalgo #41.

Some of Beverly’s photographs have been published previously. Beverly’s children kindly provided all but one of the photos for an article on MexConnect — A Tour of Ajijic, Chapala, Mexico, in about 1970 — with daughter Tamara choosing the selection and providing the captions.

Beverly’s daughter Jill has rightly observed that her mother’s black and white portraits of Ajijic families are “timeless and most precious.”

Gallery: All photos © Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973.

Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973
Copyright Beverly Johnson, c 1973

It is hoped to stage an exhibition of Beverly Johnson’s photographs at the Ajijic Museo de Arte (Priv. Flores Magón 3-A, Ajijic) to celebrate her important contribution to village life in Ajijic in the 1970s.

Acknowledgments

My thanks to Tamara Janúz, Jill Maldonado, Rachel Lyn Johnson and Miriam Pérez Johnson for their support in helping preserve their mother’s photographic legacy, and to Carol Shepherd McClain for graciously sharing the photographs used in this post to illustrate Beverly’s work.

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Several chapters of Foreign Footprints in Ajijic: Decades of Change in a Mexican Village offer more details about the history of the artistic community in Ajijic; chapter 30 is devoted to Beverly and her family.

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