Mar 282024

Juan Victor Aráuz Gutiérrez (1914-2000) and his father, Juan Aráuz Lomeli, were photographers who lived and worked in Guadalajara. Because they sometimes photographed the same subject at the same time, there is uncertainty in the case of some images as to which of the two men was the photographer.

Juan Victor Aráuz Gutiérrez (sometimes mistakenly named as Juan Victor Aráuz Martínez) was born in Guadalajara in November 1914 and died in the city on 4 October 2000.

Alberto Gómez Barbosa was a good friend of Juan Victor Aráuz. In his multi-part series on photography in Jalisco for El Informador in 2004, Gómez Barbosa recalled that Juan Victor Aráuz had learned photography from early childhood before pursuing a career as a professional photographer.

His father’s friendship with José Clemente Orozco meant that Juan Victor Aráuz also got to know the great muralist. Juan Victor Aráuz not only chronicled the growth of Guadalajara in photographs but also documented the progress of Orozco’s work on the murals in the city’s university, Government Palace and Hospicio Cabañas (now the Instituto Cultural Cabañas). His photos have proved especially valuable to Orozco scholars since they include images of preliminary sketches that were later altered or never executed.

Along with Orozco, Aráuz was among the founders in 1935 of the Jalisco Union of Painters and Sculptors (Unión de Pintores y Escultores de Jalisco), formed to respond to the call by the Revolutionary Writers and Artists League (Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarias) for a National Assembly of Artists. Other members of the Jalisco Union with links to Lake Chapala included Ixca Farías, José María Servín and Rubén Mora Gálvez..

At the end of the 1930s, when the University of Guadalajara established a School of Fine Arts (Escuela de Artes Plasticas), Aráuz was appointed as its first photography instructor even though there was then no formal career path for student photographers. He remained in that position for many years and taught successive generations of students, many of whom subsequently became well-known photographers.

In 1948, Juan Victor Aráuz partnered with Gabriel Camarena to open the Camarauz photo shop selling cameras and all manner of photographic equipment. Aráuz’s story-telling prowess and willingness to share his experiences and techniques quickly made his store a very popular meeting place for the city’s bohemian architects, painters, writers and would-be photographers.

This card, an interesting aerial view clearly marked Camarauz, dates from the early 1950s and was taken to document the near-completion of the wide avenue (Francisco I. Madero) in Chapala that leads to the town’s jetty and lakeside promenade. Like many other prominent Guadalajara families of the time, Juan Victor Aráuz had a vacation home in Chapala.

Juan Victor Aráuz. Aerial view of Chapala, ca 1950.

Juan Victor Aráuz. Aerial view of Chapala, ca 1950.

Author Katie Goodridge Ingram recalls Aráuz with fondness, saying that she, like her mother and brothers, took their films to him to be developed and printed, and always enjoyed the experience. She chatted with Aráuz several times in Chapala, and remembers him as “a tall lanky man, with thinning black hair, large features in mouth and nose and hands, and the long slumped look of an accomplished aristocrat.” She was so impressed with his photos that she took a selection with her when she attended a US boarding school and college.

In 1950, recognizing the shortage of gallery space in Guadalajara, Aráuz opened the Galeria Camarauz where shows featured the works of locally-resident artists such as Thomas Coffeen, Matias Goeritz and many others. The legendary Dr. Atl (Gerardo Murillo) held a solo exhibit there entitled “Como nace y crece un volcán” (How a volcano is born and grows), based on the eruptions of Paricutin Volcano in Michoacán in the previous decade. The Galería Camarauz also sponsored an exhibition of photographs taken by the distinguished Jaliscan writer Juan Rulfo (a personal friend of Victor’s) at the Casa de Cultura in Guadalajara in 1960.

Contemporaries praised Aráuz as a sensitive person with a great sense of humor. He was also an inveterate traveler. His time living with the indigenous Huichol Indians in their remote ancestral lands in the mountains of northern Jalisco and neighboring states proved to be his springboard to national fame. In 1959, an exhibit featuring a selection of his extraordinary Huichol photographs – “Los huicholes ante mi cámara” – opened at the Modern Art Museum in Mexico City in early February. It ran until the end of March. This was the very first time any photographer had been given a solo exhibit at the museum. The exhibit was a personal triumph. His sensitive and powerful Huichol images are now on permanent exhibition in the Sala Juan Víctor Aráuz of the Casa de la Moneda (former Mint), a museum in Zacatecas.

Juan Victor Aráuz was an avid and intelligent collector of early photography. His extensive and unrivaled collection of old photographic plates, daguerreotypes, negatives and prints of Guadalajara, many dating back to the 19th century, was bequeathed to the city. Aráuz researched early photography in Guadalajara and in 1988 a selection of his reproductions of early photographs, accompanied by texts by Francisco Ayón Zester, was published by the Unidad Editorial del Gobierno del Estado de Jalisco as Guadalajara, iconografía del siglo XIX y principios del XX.

The largest ever exhibition of photographs by Juan Víctor Aráuz was held in the Ex-Convento del Carmen in Guadalajara from December 1993 to the following January. On display were 338 images spanning half a century, with examples of Aráuz’s best work from all over Mexico, as well as from New York and several countries in Europe, Africa and Asia, alongside several abstract compositions.

Juan Víctor Aráuz won numerous awards for his work, including the Premio Jalisco (Jalisco Prize)in 1957, awarded by then governor Agustín Yáñez, the Premio Ciudad de Guadalajara (City of Guadalajara Prize) in 1998 and the Premio Jalisco en Artes (Jalisco Arts Prize) in 1982.

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My 2022 book Lake Chapala: A Postcard History uses reproductions of more than 150 vintage postcards to tell the incredible story of how Lake Chapala became an international tourist and retirement center.

Note: This post was first published 23 August 2019.


  • Arturo Camacho. 2008. “La fotografía en Guadalajara”. Revista La Tarea (revista de la Sección 47 del Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación), #6, Oct 2008.
  • Justino Fernandez. 1960. “Catálogo de las Exposiciones de Arte en 1959.” Suplemento del Num. 29 de los Anales del Instituto de Investigaciones Esteticas, Mexico, 1960.
  • Alberto Gómez Barbosa. 2004. “La fotografía en Jalisco.” El Informador, 1 August 2004, 14.
  • Francisco Javier Ibarra. 2005. “Juan Víctor Arauz: espejo de la memoria III.” El Informador, 17 July 2005, 14-B.
  • El Informador: 5 October 2000.
  • Katie Goodridge Ingram, personal communication, July 2018.
  • Raquel Tibol. 1994. “Gran Exposicion Fotografica De Juan Victor Arauz”, Proceso, 22 January 1994.

Comments, corrections and additional material are welcome, whether via the comments feature or email.

  One Response to “Lake Chapala postcards: a photograph by Juan Victor Aráuz”

  1. Wonderful info for me— I think I mentioned to you before–when I motorcycled through Mexico for 10 weeks in 1971 I never could find a good post card. I did not go through GDL until 1972 but in 1971 everywhere i went were post cards with things like iron bridges. –I didn’t send any post cards home so wish I’d seen these for sale somewhere–

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