Nov 042021
Do you have an Arthur Merrill painting of Lake Chapala?

A chance find in a New Mexico newspaper mentions that artist Arthur Merrill and his wife visited Phoenix, Arizona, in February 1952, with plans to continue on to Lake Chapala. Arthur (“Art”) Joseph Merrill (1885-1973) took up art later than most, but forged a successful career in commercial art and as a watercolorist. Merrill certainly […]

Oct 282021
Brian Boru Dunne and the Chapala-Santa Fe nexus

The Lake Chapala-Santa Fe literary-art nexus has had many distinguished members over the years: D. H. Lawrence,  Witter Bynner, “Spud” Johnson, Betty Binkley , Josefa (the “mother of Mexican fashion design”), Jorge Fick, Clinton King and his (first) wife Lady Twysden, Clark Hulings, John Liggett Meigs, Alfred Rogoway, Don Shaw, photographer Ernest Walter Knee,  poet […]

Oct 212021
Jan Sullivan painted her plein air "Lakeside Life" near Ajijic

Jan Sullivan (1921-2016) was a regular visitor to Ajijic and the surrounding area for more than 35 years. She accompanied noted American artist Hazel Hannell, who chose to spend the winter months in Ajijic for several years in the 1980s. Other members of this small loose-knit group included the noteworthy artists Harriet Rex Smith (1921-2017) […]

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Oct 142021
"The White Rebozo," a short story by Gwendolen Overton

The earliest known English-language short story related to Lake Chapala is “The White Rebozo: A Vision of the Night on the Mystic Waters of Lake Chapala,” written by Gwendolen Overton and first published in The Argonaut in July 1900. The story was subsequently reprinted in newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic. In the following […]

Oct 072021
More than 120 years ago, Gwendolen Overton wrote a short story set at Lake Chapala!

Is this the first English-language short story about Lake Chapala? More by luck than judgment, I recently happened upon a short story titled “The White Rebozo,” which turned out to be set at Lake Chapala. The story was written by Gwendolen Overton and first published more than 120 years ago in 1900. Research into the […]

Sep 302021
Hungarian-Canadian artist Michael Fischer painted Lake Chapala in the 1990s

Hungarian-Canadian artist Michael Fischer visited Lake Chapala several times in the early 1990s, including a lengthy stay one winter at San Juan Cosalá. He was in the final stages of planning to bring a group of artists and art students from Canada for a three-week stay at Lake Chapala when his wife was taken seriously […]

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Sep 232021
Erik Erikson: Identity Crisis in Ajijic in 1957

Erik Homburger Erikson (1902-1994), who coined the term ‘identity crisis’, spent several weeks in Ajijic in 1957 while writing Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalyses and History, published the following year. Erikson had been persuaded that Ajijic was a quiet place in which to write by Helen Kirtland and her husband Dr Larry Hartmus. […]

Sep 162021
American artist Hazel Hannell worked in Ajijic in the 1980s

Noted American artist Hazel Hannell was already in her eighties when she chose to spend the winter months in Ajijic. Hannell became a regular visitor for several years in the 1980s. This charming costumbrista woodblock from those years was sold on eBay. Hannell continued to paint and produce artworks until she was 103 years old. […]

Sep 092021
Dr Leo Stanley described San Luis Soyatlán and Tuxcueca in 1937

The following excerpts come from the detailed account written by Dr. Leo Leonidas Stanley (1886-1976) after visiting Lake Chapala in October 1937. (For ease of reading, accents and italics have been added and spelling standardized.) Note that early descriptions (in English or Spanish) of the villages on the south shore of the lake are exceedingly […]

Aug 192021
Charlotte Wax painted in Ajijic in 1947-48

I would love to learn more about Charlotte Speight, aka “Mrs Melvin S. Wax,” who held an exhibit of paintings and drawings of Ajijic at the Carpenter Art galleries at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, in July 1947. The exhibition included “six oils, several pen and ink sketches and a gouache, depicting scenes in […]

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Aug 122021
Dr Leo Stanley stayed overnight in Jocotepec in 1937

The following excerpts come from the detailed account written by Dr. Leo Leonidas Stanley (1886-1976) after visiting Lake Chapala in October 1937. (For ease of reading, accents and italics have been added and spelling standardized.) On 11 October, Stanley and his two Mexican companions, José Alonzo and Ramón, rode from Chapala to Jocotepec, where they […]

Aug 052021
Albert Alfredson painted at Lake Chapala in the early 1950s

Little is known about Albert Alfredson’s visit to Lake Chapala, though a realist oil and crayon painting by him entitled “Humble Homes” with the notation “At Lake Chapala Mex,” and believed to date from about 1950, was offered for sale on eBay in July 2021. Alfredson was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1907 and died […]

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Jul 292021
The mysterious author "A Gringo" visited Chapala in the 1880s

“A Gringo”—an English-speaking traveler about whom very little is known—arrived in Mexico in 1883. He was an observant and enthusiastic visitor. In the preface to his book Through The Land of the Aztecs or Life and Travel in Mexico (published in 1892), “A Gringo” states that his objective “is simply to give a plain account […]

Jul 152021
Physician Leo Stanley kept a detailed diary of his 1937 trip to Lake Chapala

Dr. Leo Leonidas Stanley (1886-1976) visited Guadalajara and Lake Chapala in October 1937 and kept a detailed diary of his trip. Stanley was the physician for the California State Prison at San Quentin from 1913 to 1951, and was a meticulous observer. Fortunately for us, his detailed typewritten account of his trip, illustrated by dozens […]

Jul 082021
Watercolorist Paul Fischer (1864-1932)

German painter Paul “Pablo” Fischer lived in Mexico for many years and painted at least two watercolors of Lake Chapala. Fischer (1864-1932) was born in Stuttgart, Germany, and earned a medical degree at the University of Munich in 1884. He traveled to Mexico in about 1890 to administer an inheritance in the northern Mexico state […]

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Jun 302021
Canadian artists and authors associated with Lake Chapala

For those Canadians who celebrate 1 July as Canada Day, here is a list of Canadian artists and authors who have historical connections to Lake Chapala and who have already been profiled on this blog. Enjoy! Visual artists Henry Sandham (1842-1910), a well-known Canadian illustrator of the time, illustrated Charles Embree‘s historical novel, A Dream […]

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Jun 242021
Photogenic Ajijic gave Stanley Twardowicz his second strand of fame as an artist

Prior to becoming a noted abstract expressionist painter, Stanley Twardowicz (1917-2008) lived in Ajijic in about 1948. Three years later, he exhibited about twenty photographs from that visit in New York, and won instant acclaim as a talented fine arts photographer. Remarkably, Twardowicz had only taken up photography a short time before arriving in Ajijic, […]

Jun 172021
Writer and illustrator Renee George visited Ajijic in 1947

Born on 18 January 1924 in Berlin, Germany, artist Renée George (birth name Renate Judith Georg) emigrated to the US as a stateless fifteen-year-old in August 1939, just as the second world war broke out in Europe. George visited Ajijic during her three month trip to Mexico in the summer of 1947. When she returned […]

Jun 102021
Art mystery: Where did August Lohr paint this scene?

This scenic view was painted in 1911 by Austrian artist August Lohr (1842-1920). August Lohr : his life and connection to Lake Chapala Lohr lived in Mexico City for almost thirty years. He undertook commissions, including interior decorations and murals, and is known to have traveled to many other locations to paint. This painting (above) […]

Jun 032021
John Sinclair visited Ajijic in the 1940s to write "Death in the Claimshack"

New York-born author John Sinclair was already the successful author of a “Western cowboy” novel, published by MacMillan, when he decided to hide out in Ajijic for a few weeks in 1946-47 to write his next novel. According to a newspaper article in December 1946, Sinclair planned to: “write another novel in Ajijic, which is […]

May 272021
Austrian landscape artist August Lohr (1842-1920) painted Chapala at the start of the 20th century

August Lohr was an Austrian landscape artist, born in 1842 in Hallein, near Salzburg. Lohr lived and worked in Europe, the U.S. and Mexico. After studying at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Germany, Lohr initially specialized in painting Alpine scenery. He and his Austrian wife, Franziska Geuhs, had three daughters, Rosina, Elise […]

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May 202021
H. Owen Reed’s innovative composition “La Fiesta Mexicana” was inspired by Lake Chapala

American composer and conductor H. Owen Reed (1910-2014), a professor at Michigan State University, spent five months in Mexico over the winter of 1948-49. After several weeks in Mexico City and Cuernavaca, with side trips to Taxco and Acapulco, he spent a couple of months in Chapala. This trip, funded by a Guggenheim Fellowship, was […]

May 132021
Modernist artist Hari Kidd and his connection to Lake Chapala

Hari (Harry) Matthew Kidd (1899-1964) was a painter, printmaker and writer associated with Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), El Paso (Texas) and Key West (Florida). Kidd was living in Chapala in the mid-1940s when he first met his future wife Edythe Wallach, then living in Ajijic. Kidd had his paintings in a group show at the Villa Montecarlo […]

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May 062021
The poem "Ajijic" helped Jan Richman win the 1994 Walt Whitman Award

Californian poet and novelist Jan Richman’s poem “Ajijic” was first published in 1994, and included in her first poetry collection, Because the Brain Can Be Talked Into Anything, which won the 1994 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. Born in La Jolla, Richman graduated from Torrey Pines High School before studying English […]

Apr 292021
Gerald van de Wiele and his painting entitled "Chapala"

Gerald van de Wiele was 19 years old when he visited Ajijic briefly with his good friend and fellow artist George “Jorge” Fick in 1951. Sixty-six years later, and despite never having returned to the area, van de Wiele completed an abstract painting entitled “Chapala.” What were the circumstances of van de Wiele’s original visit, […]

Apr 222021
Thriller by Louis Charbonneau captures the essence of Ajijic in the 1970s

Journalist and author Louis Henry Charbonneau (1924-2017) includes numerous passages about Ajijic in his book The Lair, first published in 1980. Presumably Charbonneau visited Ajijic in the mid-1970s. (If you can supply any details about his time in Ajijic, please get in touch) Louis Henry Charbonneau, Jr. was born in Detroit, Michigan, on 20 January […]

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