Jun 042020
The important artistic legacy of Otto Butterlin, who lived in Ajijic from the 1940s

German-Mexican artist Hans Otto Butterlin (born Cologne, Germany, 26 December 1900) was only six years of age when the family emigrated from Europe to Mexico, living first in Mexico City and then Guadalajara. During the Mexican Revolution, Otto and his younger brother, Friedrich, were sent back to live with relatives in Germany. Otto attended high […]

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May 282020
George Ryga's play "Portrait of Angelica" is set in Ajijic

The Canadian playwright and novelist George Ryga (1932-1987) lived and wrote in the village of San Antonio Tlayacapan, mid-way between Chapala and Ajijic, from November, 1972 to March 1973. Ryga was sufficiently immersed in local life during his few months at Lake Chapala that it inspired him to write A Portrait of Angelica, a play […]

May 212020
Eleanor Margarite "Tink" Strother (1919-2007), portrait painter extraordinaire

Eleanor Margarite Glover, who became an acclaimed portrait painter, and lived in Ajijic 1961-1963, was born on 1 October 1919 in Big Horn, Wyoming, to a Methodist minister, shortly before the family moved to Compton, Los Angeles, California. Eleanor was the second of five children in the family. Her father nicknamed her “Tink” at an […]

May 142020
T. Phillip Terry's 1909 guide to Mexico helped put Chapala on the map

Thomas Philip Terry (1864-1945) was born in Georgetown, Kentucky. Terry first visited Mexico in his early twenties and spent 5 years working for The Mexican Financier, a Mexico City weekly, while writing a series of short stories and news reports for U.S. newspapers and completing a popular Spanish-English phrase book. Terry then lived briefly in […]

May 072020
Painter and guitarist Gustavo Sendis (1941-1989) found artistic inspiration in Ajijic

The talented painter and musician Gustavo Sendis divided his time for much of his life between Guadalajara, where he was born in 1941, and his family’s second home in Ajijic. Born on 8 July 1941, Sendis became interested in art at an early age and studied drawing with Juan Navarro and Ernesto Butterlin in 1958 […]

Apr 302020
William Standish Stone and his short story about an epidemic in Ajijic

Given its underlying theme, it seems eerily appropriate—given the current Covid-19 lockdown at Lake Chapala—to take a quick look at William S. Stone’s short story entitled “La Soñadora” (“The Dreamer), published in Mexican Life in 1947. The protagonist is a young doctor who has arrived with a group of American miners looking for gold in […]

Apr 232020
Lake Chapala on a postcard: the pioneering genius behind Casa Abitia

At first glance this may not seem to be the most exciting photograph of Lake Chapala ever used for a postcard. However, “Casa Abitia” – the card’s publisher – was the business name for one of Mexico’s most interesting, pioneering and remarkable photographers. Jesús Hermenegildo Abitia Garcés, commonly known simply as Chucho Abitia, was born […]

Apr 162020
Ajijic's fame as an inexpensive art center in the early 1950s

Ajijic first bloomed into a center for art and artists in the 1940s. By the end of that decade, the village boasted at least one gallery, and several entrepreneurial artists were involved in offering seasonal art classes, initially for summer visitors from the U.S. During the 1950s, word-of-mouth gradually spread Ajijic’s “fame” as an artistic […]

Apr 092020
Chicago painter Harry Mintz (1907-2002) was a regular visitor to Lake Chapala during the 1970s and 1980s

Accompanied by his family, multilingual Polish-born artist and educator Harry Mintz (1907-2002) was a frequent visitor to Lake Chapala from the 1970s into the 1990s. His first recorded visit was in 1974, when the local paper reported that the family was spending the summer in Chula Vista and that it was a working vacation for […]

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Apr 022020
Winifred Martin described the Hotel Ribera Castellanos on Lake Chapala in 1909

Winifred Martin, a journalist working for the The San Bernardino Sun in California, spent six weeks in Mexico in 1909 and has left us a first-hand account of staying at the Hotel Ribera Castellanos (located mid-way between Jamay and Ocotlán near the eastern end of the lake), one of Mexico’s most fashionable resorts at the […]

Mar 192020
Ken Smedley and Dorianne Smedley-Kohl worked and performed at Lake Chapala in the 1980s

Ken Smedley and his wife, Dorianne Smedley-Kohl, lived and performed at Lake Chapala from 1978 until 1989. Ken was a long-time friend of George Ryga, and the couple stayed initially at Ryga’s “cottage” in San Antonio Tlayacapan, before moving later to Ajijic, where they rented a house opposite “La Rusa” on Calle Independencia. Ken Smedley […]

Feb 272020
Michael Baxte painted in Ajijic in the 1940s

Artists Michael Baxte (1900-1972) and his wife, Violette Mège (1889-1968), lived in Mexico City for decades and visited Ajijic several times during the 1940s. Baxte and his wife were near neighbors in Mexico City of Helen Kirtland and her family. After her marriage ended, Kirtland moved to Ajijic with her three young children and founded […]

Feb 202020
Zoe Kernick has given us a detailed description of Ajijic in 1950

What was Ajijic like 70 years ago? Well, a recently-found article by Zoe Kernick  in Mexican Life gives us some tantalizing glimpses into life in the village back then. A single overly-long sentence sets the scene and hints at some of the conflicts and contradictions that life in the village, even then, entailed: For the […]

Feb 132020
Algerian-born painter Violette Mège painted Ajijic in the 1940s

Artists Violette Mège (1889-1968) and her husband, Michael Baxte (1900-1972), lived in Mexico City for decades and visited Ajijic several times during the 1940s. Mège and her husband were near neighbors in Mexico City of Helen Kirtland and her family. After her marriage ended, Kirtland moved to Ajijic with her three young children and founded […]

Feb 062020
Katharine Goodridge Ingram spent her childhood in Ajijic in the 1940s

Language educator and writer Katharine (“Katie”) Goodridge Ingram was born in Mexico City on 23 June 1938 to American parents. Her father, Ezra Read Goodridge, was a rare book dealer and her mother, Helen Kirtland, a fashion designer. Katie spent her early childhood in Mexico City. In the mid-1940s, when her parents’ marriage came to […]

Jan 302020
Acclaimed expressionist painter Abby Rubinstein lived in Ajijic from 1966 to 1976

Acclaimed expressionist artist Abby Rubinstein (née Addis) and her second husband, Jules, also an accomplished artist, lived in Ajijic from 1966 to 1976. Abby S Addis was born in Brooklyn, New York, on 6 August 1928. In 1945, at age 15, Abby was accepted on a scholarship into the Brooklyn Museum Art School, where famous […]

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Jan 232020
Clifford Gessler and the "Haunted Lake" of Chapala in 1941

American journalist, poet and author Clifford Gessler included a chapter about Chapala in Pattern of Mexico, published in 1941. The chapter was reproduced, as “The Haunted Lake,” in Mexican Life the following year. Relatively little is known about Gessler. He was born in Milton Junction, Wisconsin, on 9 November 1893 and died in Berkeley, California, […]

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