Jan 022020
Jocotepec-based photographer Helmuth Wellenhofer and his images of Mexican railroads

German engineer and photographer Helmuth A. Wellenhofer lived with his wife, Antonia (“Toni”) in Jocotepec for many years in the 1970s. Helmut (as he was known in Mexico) was born in Bavaria in 1935. After completing his studies, he worked in a fashion house, became interested in literature, modern art and music, and founded a […]

Dec 262019
Volkmar Wentzel photographed Lake Chapala for a 1967 National Geographic article

Volkmar Wentzel photographed Lake Chapala for a 1967 National Geographic article by Bart McDowell entitled “The Most Mexican City, Guadalajara.” Wentzel, a German-American photographer, took some striking photos. Volkmar Kurt Wentzel was born on 8 February 1915 and died on 10 May 2006. After studying photography at the Corcoran School of Art he became a […]

Dec 192019
A Christmas Potpourri of Lake Chapala Links

A number of artists and authors associated with Lake Chapala have clear links to Christmas. Admittedly, some links are more tenuous than others. Here, in no particular order, are a few of those that come to mind: German-born photographer Hugo Brehme, who  photographed Lake Chapala, and many of whose superb black-and-white postcard images are hauntingly […]

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Dec 122019
Bethel Young fell in love at Lake Chapala in 1941

Bethel Young extolled the virtues of Chapala in 1941 in an article entitled “In Mexico”, published in Mexican Life. In the article, she claimed to have fallen in love three times in the 37 days that she and her husband, Lafayette Young III, had spent in Mexico: first with the inscrutable Indian housemaid employed by […]

Nov 282019
William Bentz Plagemann included several mentions of Ajijic and Chapala in his novel "The heart of silence"

William Bentz Plagemann was a prolific American author, who was born in Springield, Ohio, in 1913 and died in New York in 1991. He wrote both fiction and non-fiction and his career as an author spanned half a century from 1941 to 1990. Plagemann spent a year in Mexico in the mid-1960s, shortly before writing […]

Nov 212019
Francisco González Ruvalcaba painted Lake Chapala in the 1880s

Francisco González Rubalcaba y Cabo wrote and illustrated a short book about Lake Chapala in the 1880s. His charming naïf illustrations may not be fine art but are some of the earliest paintings known of the lake. What is more, Rubalcaba did not paint only the village of Chapala (as so many other artists have […]

Nov 142019
Vitold de Szyszlo visited Chapala market in 1910

Among the very few early images of Chapala that depict village people going about their everyday lives, is this postcard from about 1910 entitled (on its reverse side) “Chapala. Un mercado en México – Mexican market.” The postcard was published by Juan Kaiser. Given that Kaiser lived in Guadalajara, he was somewhat loose with his […]

Nov 062019
Rose Georgina Kingsley (1845-1925)

Rose Georgina Kingsley (1845-1925) was the oldest child of the Rev. Charles Kingsley, the celebrated English clergyman and novelist, who contributed the prologue to her book South by west or winter in the Rocky Mountains and spring in Mexico. Rose Kingsley had crossed the Atlantic to Colorado Springs in November 1871 to join her brother, […]

Oct 312019
Chicago gallery pioneer Stanley Sourelis and his encaustic paintings

Stanley George Sourelis, who was born in Chicago on 26 June 1925 and died in Dallas on 27 December 2006, was a chemical engineer and versatile artist who lived his final years in Ajijic. He was constantly experimenting. In his early artistic career he painted portraits, abstract oils and produced hundreds of charcoal drawings. During […]

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Oct 242019
Pioneering female travel writer Marie Wright visited Chapala at the start of the 20th century

Marie Robinson Wright (1853-1914) was the author of two non-fiction books about Mexico, the first published in 1897 and the second in 1911. The later book includes a short description of Lake Chapala and an early photo of the shoreline villas as seen from the lake. Born in Newnan, Georgia, on 4 May 1853 to […]

Oct 172019
An art workshop in Ajijic was pivotal to the artistic success of Jorge Fick (1932-2004)

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 […]

Oct 102019
The visionary guru Edmond Szekely lived and wrote at Lake Chapala in the 1970s

Hungarian-born natural living experimenter Edmond Szekely (1905-1979), founder of the International Biogenic Society, lived and wrote at Lake Chapala during the 1970s. He was the author of more than 80 books, some in Hungarian, some in English, some translated into Spanish, and sometimes using the name Edmond S. Bordeaux. Szekely was born in Máramarossziget in […]

Oct 032019
Sylvia Fein turns 100: major retrospective of her work at Berkeley Museum of Art

Sylvia Fein, one of America’s foremost surrealist painters, lived and painted in Ajijic from 1943 to 1946 and is celebrating her 100th birthday this year. Fein has been  an enthusiastic supporter of my efforts to document the history of the artistic community of Lake Chapala, and her encouragement for this project is very much appreciated. […]

Sep 262019
Luis Arceo Preciado

Prior to 1908, when the south-eastern part of Lake Chapala was drained for agriculture, the town of Sahuayo was very close to the shore of the lake. Sahuayo is where Mexican poet Luis Arceo Preciado was born on 24 January 1926. Arceo, one of eight siblings, died there in 2018. According to his biography in […]

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Sep 192019
Sid Miller retired to Ajijic in 1982 to paint and sculpt

Accomplished amateur artist Sid Miller painted and sculpted in Ajijic from 1982 to shortly before his death in 1998. His work was included in numerous local exhibitions, alongside that of friends such as Georg Rauch and Peter and Carole D’Addio. Miller was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1912 to a Lithuanian Jewish couple who […]

Sep 052019
Early stereoscopic photos of Lake Chapala

This post looks at the small number of early stereoscopic photo pairs of Chapala that have come to light. A stereoscopic pair of photos is obtained by taking the same picture twice, but from slightly different positions, akin to the two slightly different views from your left eye and right eye, respectively. When a stereo […]

Aug 292019
Best-selling author James Patterson mentioned Chapala in his very first novel.

James Patterson, whose books have sold more than 300,000,000 copies worldwide, incorporated a mention of Lake Chapala into his very first novel, The Thomas Berryman Affair, published in 1976, when he was 29 years of age. James Brendan Patterson was born in Newburgh, New York, on 22 March 1947. He graduated with a B.A. in […]

Aug 222019
Frédèric Faideau and his remarkable photos of Lake Chapala in the early 1920s

French-born photographer Frédèric Faideau (1880-1954) took some remarkable photos of Lake Chapala in the early 1920s. Unlike the commercial postcard photographers and publishers who portrayed the Chapala area and its inhabitants at that time, Faideau was an unpaid amateur. It is precisely because his photographs had no commercial or monetary motivation that they are so […]

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