Jun 162022
 
Florida-based artist Mona Jordan and her 1961 “Tarascans, Ajijic” painting

Mona Jordan (1908-1995), a multi-talented and much traveled artist, exhibited a painting titled “Tarascans, Ajijic” in Florida in 1961. Gladys “Mona” Lynch Jordan was born on 12 November 1908 at West Point, Orange County, New York, and died at the age of 86 on 28 September 1995 in Annandale, Fairfax County, Virginia. Her remains are […]

Jun 092022
 
After visiting Ajijic in 1978, Taylor Caldwell signed a multi-million-dollar deal for two novels

Taylor Caldwell (1900-1985), a prolific author of best-selling novels, spent two weeks at the Touch of Eden health spa in the Hotel Real de Chapala in 1978. At the time of her visit, Janet Miriam Holland Taylor Caldwell (her birth name) was married to Robert Prestie and going by her married name. Lake Chapala Artists […]

May 262022
 
Rowena Girault Kirkpatrick painted and gave art classes in San Antonio Tlayacapan in the early 1970s

Rowena Girault was a prolific painter and sculptor. Multi-faceted, multi-talented, and almost entirely self-taught, she moved to San Antonio Tlayacapan (with her husband, Frank) in the late 1960s and spent the remainder of her life there. Rowena Katherine Girault was born to Peter Girault and Catherine Price in Chicago on 24 December 1914. The 1920 […]

May 122022
 
Julian Pulido: talented Ajijic artist who died tragically young

Julián Pulido Pedrosa was one of the group of talented artists who formed the Jovenes Pintores de Ajijic (Young Painters of Ajijic) in 1977. Tragically, a decade later, Ajijic-born Pulido died on the highway between Tuxcueca and Tizapán el Alto in mysterious circumstances, while still a young man, not yet thirty years of age. He […]

Apr 072022
 
Howard Fryer and “El Nitty Gritty,” his provocative memoir of thirty years at Lake Chapala

Howard Fryer’s memoir, El Nitty Gritty, published in 2010, is perhaps the most deliberately provocative account of life at Lake Chapala ever written. Who was Howard Fryer, and what did he write? Who was Howard Fryer? Born in Reading, UK, on 11 March 1941, Fryer was only a young child when he moved with his […]

Mar 242022
 
Artist-explorer Tobias Schneebaum began his worldwide adventures in Ajijic in the late 1940s

Tobias (“Toby”) Schneebaum (1922-2005) was a gay artist, author, adventurer and activist, best known for living among, and documenting, the Amarakaeri people of Amazonian Peru and the Asmat people of the southwestern part of the island of New Guinea. Before these trips into the tropical jungle, Schneebaum had lived in Ajijic for several years, and […]

Mar 102022
 
Charles Kaufman dedicated his novel "Fiesta in Manhattan" to the people of Ajijic

The distinguished American screenplay writer Charles Kaufman (1904-1991) was in his mid-twenties when he lived for several months in Ajijic in 1929, with his girlfriend, Edith Huntsman. A decade later, he dedicated his first and only novel – Fiesta in Manhattan – “To the good people of Ajijíc.” (Note that Ajijic is normally written without […]

Feb 242022
 
Do you own a painting by Peg Kittinger?

Peg Kittinger is one of the mystery artists associated with Lake Chapala. “Mrs L B (Peg) Kittinger” was an artist and art teacher who lived in Chapala for about nine years, from 1955 to 1964. Her address in Chapala in 1955 was Morelos #181, though she apparently later had a home in Chula Vista. Hazel […]

Feb 102022
 
Helen Creighton, Canadian folklorist, visited Chapala at about the same time as D H Lawrence

Mary Helen Creighton, usually known simply as Helen Creighton, was born into an upper-class family in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, on 5 September 1899, and became one of Canada’s most prominent folklorists. Her career spanned sixty years, and she gained an international reputation in the field. After gaining a diploma in music from McGill University in […]

Jan 272022
 
Art mystery: Who is "Ellen" who painted this fun and vibrant view titled "Chapala"?

This fun and vibrant painting titled “Chapala” was offered at auction in New York in August 2021. The painting, an oil on canvas measuring 30 x 24 inches, signed “Ellen” and dated 1967, was attributed in the auction listing to Ellen Black, with the additional details that “Ellen Black (20th Century) was active/lived in California. […]

Dec 192021
 
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 […]

Nov 182021
 
American poet Anthony Ostroff was underwhelmed by Lake Chapala

Anthony Ostroff (1923-1978) was born in Gary, Indiana and educated at Northwestern University, the University of Michigan, the Sorbonne, and the University of Grenoble. Ostroff wrote a short poem entitled: “Lake Chapala” which was published in 1977 in his A Fall in Mexico (Garden City, New York: Doubleday). Ostroff traveled widely in Mexico (the date […]

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) […]

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 […]

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
 
Talented artist John Thompson lived in Jocotepec in the mid-1960s

The accomplished and enigmatic artist John Thompson (1929-1988) lived in Jocotepec from about 1963 to 1968. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on 20 July 1929, Thompson landed in Jocotepec by chance, having accepted a ride to Mexico with Miriam Bisbee, who was on her way to visit friends there: Peter and Nancy Spencer then managing the […]

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 262021
 
American journalist Edgar Ellinger described Ajijic in 1953

Edgar Mitchell Ellinger junior was in his mid-forties in 1953 when he wrote about “the small, captivating town of Ajijic” for the Arizona Republic under the title, “Mexican Town Offers Peaceful Way of Life.” Ellinger was born in New York on Christmas Day 1906. After attending Horace Mann School for Boys, he became a Wall […]

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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