Feb 222024
 

Two young US artists—Everett Gee Jackson and Lowell Houser—who had first met at art school in Chicago, arrived in Chapala in 1923. Apart from short trips elsewhere they spent the next three and a half years at Lake Chapala—living first in Chapala, then in Ajijic, and then returning once again to Chapala—before continuing their highly successful art careers elsewhere. They are two of the earliest US painters to spend any significant amount of time sketching and painting at Lake Chapala.

Painted about one hundred years ago, this painting by Everett Gee Jackson was one of several early paintings included in a major retrospective of his work held at the San Diego Art Museum in 2007. According to the catalog of that exhibition, the painting (in a private collection) is titled “Church in Chapala.”

Everett Gee Jackson. c 1924. Church in Chapala. Credit: "Everett Gee Jackson/San Diego Modern, 1920-1955.

Everett Gee Jackson. c 1924. Church in Chapala. Credit: “Everett Gee Jackson/San Diego Modern, 1920-1955.”

But is this title accurate? To the best of my knowledge, the only church in Chapala in the 1920s was the parish church of San Francisco (La Parroquía de San Francisco), which has distinctive twin towers. This painting does not appear to match that church. Nor does it look like the churches in neighboring San Antonio Tlayacapan or Ajijic. So, the question is, does anyone recognize the church in Jackson’s painting? Is it really one of the churches at Lake Chapala, or does it depict a church elsewhere, perhaps in Guanajuato?

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Several chapters of Foreign Footprints in Ajijic: Decades of Change in a Mexican Village offer more details about the history of the artistic community in Ajijic. For the history of numerous buildings in Chapala, including the main church, see If Walls Could Talk: Chapala’s Historic Buildings and Their Former Occupants, translated into Spanish as Si las paredes hablaran: Edificios históricos de Chapala y sus antiguos ocupantes.

Source

    • D. Scott Atkinson. 2007. Everett Gee Jackson: San Diego Modern, 1920-1955. San Diego Museum of Art.

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

Jan 262023
 

Does anyone recognize the artist who painted this attractive gouache of a village scene? It is dated ’62. The indistinct signature appears to start with “PETER” in block capitals.

Anon.Village Scene. 1962.

Unknown signature

Detail of signature (false color)

Any and all suggestions welcomed!

Other Art Mysteries related to Lake Chapala can be found via our index page for artists.

Lake Chapala Artists & Authors is reader-supported. Purchases made via links on our site may, at no cost to you, earn us an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Several chapters of Foreign Footprints in Ajijic: Decades of Change in a Mexican Village describe the history of the thriving artistic community in Ajijic.

Comments, corrections or additional material related to any of the writers and artists featured in our series of mini-bios are welcomed. Please use the comments feature at the bottom of individual posts, or email us.

Jan 272022
 

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. Ellen Black is known for Watercolor painting.”

Ellen Black. 1967. "Chapala." (Auction: Doyle New York)

“Ellen.” 1967. “Chapala.” (Auctioned 2021 at Doyle New York)

My curiosity aroused, I looked into the only artist named “Ellen Black” that I could locate. She turned out to  be a noted watercolorist (with earlier links to California) and art educator now living in Wyoming. When I spoke with her briefly by phone, it turned out that this particular painting was definitely not her work. She had never been to Lake Chapala and normally signs her works “E. Black,” not “Ellen.”

Given that it appears the auction house was probably mistaken in its attribution, can any alert reader suggest who this Lake Chapala-related “Ellen” might be?

Comments, corrections or additional material related to any of the writers and artists featured in our series of mini-bios are welcomed. Please use the comments feature at the bottom of individual posts, or email us.

Jun 182020
 

Even my best efforts sometimes fail to turn up anything of note about certain artists that I know lived and worked at Lake Chapala.

Joe Vines. 1976. Contemplative Violinist. Credit: Design Plus Gallery, San Francisco

Joe Vines. 1976. Contemplative Violinist. Credit: Design Plus Gallery, San Francisco.

Joe (Joseph) Vines is a case in point. Even though several artists I have interviewed in the past decade have mentioned him—and recall his work—I have managed to find out virtually nothing about this elusive artist who lived in the late 1960s in Jocotepec. His address in a 1968 directory was listed as Morelos Ote 186, Jocotepec.

Vines-Joe-GR-1968-13-July-sJoe Vines, mistakenly spelled as either Jo Vines or Joe Vine in some contemporary news reports, was a male artist who signed his work “Jovines.” He held a solo show in March 1968 at the “Galería Ajijic Bellas Artes,” administered by Hudson and Mary Rose, that was located at Marcos Castellanos #15 (at the intersection with Constitución) in Ajijic. Reviewing the show, Allyn Hunt described his work as “sparkling, colorful silkscreen prints.”

Vines’ work was also included in a “collective fine crafts show” at the same gallery in May 1968, alongside examples of work by Mary Rose; Hudson Rose; Peter Huf and his wife, Eunice (Hunt) Huf; Ben Crabbe; Gail Michel, Joe Rowe and Beverly Hunt. On that occasion, Vines, who was described as “an excellent serigrapher” contributed “several unpretentious sculptures.”

According to Peter Huf, Vines exhibited only rarely. Muralist Tom Brudenell, who lived in Jocotepec at the time, recalled that Vines was an older artist and “a long-time painter in oils”, who used his sound technique to produce commercial ‘pot boilers,’ shown by Marilyn Hodge in the Galería 8 de Julio in Guadalajara.

Joe Vines. 1970s. Abstract. Credit: Design Plus Gallery, San Francisco

Joe Vines. 1970s. Abstract. Credit: Design Plus Gallery, San Francisco

Reviewing another Vines exhibit in July 1968, where the artist showed “arabesque style” paintings and silkscreens, including “Wailing Wall”, “Birds in a Bush” and “Jocotepec Dancers,” Allyn Hunt wrote that Vines had studied at Pratt, in Boston, and with west coast artists Sueo Serisawa and Rico Lebrun.

If you can add to this all-too-brief account of Joe Vines, supply any biographical details, or have examples of his work, please get in touch!

Note: Kudos to Kim (see comments) for alerting me to Design Plus Gallery in San Francisco selling several works by Joe Vines.

Sources

  • Guadalajara Reporter: 27 April 1968; 25 May 1968; 13 July 1968

Comments, corrections or additional material related to any of the writers and artists featured in our series of mini-bios are welcome. Please use the comments feature at the bottom of individual posts, or email us.

Sep 202018
 

Sidney David Sklar (1924-2015) was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on 19 May 1924. His mother had been born in Russia and his father, whose family was of Ukrainian roots, in Romania. Sid had several older siblings, including Rose, Benjamin and Shirley.

Sid Sklar began his art studies at the Art Institute of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1936.

As the second world war came to an end, Sid married Gertrude (Trudy) G. Mizel (sometimes Myzel); the couple settled in Milwaukee and had a daughter, Deborah, in about 1946 and a son, Leland, in 1947. (Leland became an internationally respected musician).

In 1947, Sklar entered the University of Wisconsin to study painting, crafts and art history.

In about 1951, the family moved to Van Nuys, California. Sklar appears to have operated several businesses over the years in Van Nuys, including a swimming pool service (1958), the Saticoy News (1965), and a bookstore (1968).

Sid Sklar. Undated. Untitled.

Sid Sklar. Undated. Untitled.

According to El Informador, Sklar studied in Guadalajara several times with Jesús Serna between 1972 and 1987, when the family rented a home there. The family lived permanently in Guadalajara for several years before moving to Chapala. Their landlord’s son, Arq Sotirios Lambros, became friends with the Sklars and remembers the two paintings shown here as being on prominent display in their Guadalajara home. When they moved to Chapala, Sid Sklar asked Lambros, then an architecture student, for advice concerning a house he was thinking of buying; on inspection, that particular residence was clearly seriously damaged and the sale was never completed.

Sid Sklar exhibited several times in Guadalajara, including at two successive collective exhibits at the Instituto Cultural Mexicano-Norteamericano de Jalisco A.C. in October and November 1988. The following year, Sklar’s paintings were included in a month-long show at Galeria Ricardo Montaño (Av Union Sur 126), alongside bronze and marble sculptures by Sergio Cuevas (of San Juan Cosalá), watercolors by Jesús Monroy, and stained glass by Ricardo Montaño Aviña. That show opened on 24 February 1989.

In April 1989, Sklar exhibited at Lake Chapala at the Art Studio Gallery in San Antonio Tlayacapan, a gallery run by Luisa Julian de Arechiga and her husband. At that time, the Sklars were still living in Guadalajara; it would be several years before their move to Chapala.

Sid Sklar. 1973. Untitled.

Sid Sklar. 1973. Untitled.

Sklar is reported to have also exhibited at the Galeria Salvador Padilla in 1989, and at the Galeria de Arte Actual in 1991, though no details of either of these shows have yet surfaced.

His last show in Guadalajara was in October 1994 at the Galeria Art in Profile (Lopez Cotilla 228). A reviewer noted that Sklar’s later paintings often had cats in them, despite not owning any cat because his wife, Trudy, was allergic to them. It was while visiting a cat-owning relative in the US that Sklar apparently fell in love with cats’ facial features and expressions. The reviewer also commented that Sklar was a happy artist who never painted anything sad, dark or depressing.

After some years living in Chapala, Sid and Trudy Sklar returned to the US where they settled in Spokane, Washington, to be closer to family. Sid Sklar died in Spokane on 15 June 2015.

Note: This profile was significantly updated in February 2023.

[Also note that, as confirmed in a comment, there is another artist named Sid Sklar; a visually-impaired artist who was one of the first people in the world to have a successful cornea transplant (in 1941). This Sid Sklar started painting watercolors in the 1990s, following a terrible accident when he was hit at a toll booth by a hit-and-run driver. His extraordinary story has been told by journalist Beverly Antel.]

Acknowledgments

My thanks to Ricardo Santana for bringing Sid Sklar to my attention and for his kind permission to reproduce the images used in this post. My thanks also to readers who have sent comments helping to improve this post, especially to Arq. Sotirios Lambros.

Sources

  • Valley News (Van Nuys, California) 6 Dec 1968, 22.
  • El Informador: 14 Oct 1988, 8; 11 Nov 1988; 24 Feb 1989; 25 Feb 1989; 23 October 1994.

Other Art Mysteries:

Apr 192018
 

This interesting picture recently came to light in Ajijic. It is (to the best of my knowledge) unsigned and undated. It appears to be a silkscreen rather than a painting. Does anyone recognize this work or have suggestions as to who the artist might be?

Mystery image

Thanks, in advance, for any help you can offer.

Previous art mysteries:

Comments, corrections or additional material related to any of the writers and artists featured in our series of mini-bios are welcomed. Please email us or use the comments feature at the bottom of individual posts.

Dec 182017
 

I have so far seen only two examples of this photographer’s work. Both examples are photographs of Lake Chapala and appear to date from about the 1970s. This one (excuse the poor quality due to reflections) shows women washing clothes on the beach.

Lake Chapala. Photographer unidentified.

Lake Chapala. Photographer unidentified.

The photographer worked in both color and in black and white, and signed each print with a very distinctive monogram.

Monogram of unidentified photographer

Monogram of unidentified photographer

Please get in touch if you recognize this signature or can suggest who this photographer might be. Then we can add them to the growing list of fine photographers who have graced the shores of Lake Chapala.

Acknowledgment

  • Sincere thanks to Linda Fine Samuels of Ajijic for drawing my attention to the work of this currently unidentified photographer.

Other photographers related to Lake Chapala:

Sombrero Books welcomes comments, corrections or additional material related to any of the writers and artists featured in our series of mini-bios. Please use the comments feature at the bottom of individual posts, or email us.

Nov 052015
 

We’ve received a request for help with identifying the artist who painted these interesting pictures dating from about 1950. The paintings were bought in Ajijic direct from the artist at that time by the father of Ann Hithersay who lives in the U.K.

UPDATE: We thank distinguished artist Fernando Palomar (see comment) for identifying these paintings as the work of Jesús Reyes Ferreira (1880-1977), commonly known as “Chucho Reyes.”

The pictures are painted on paper. It is not clear what medium was used, but the owner reports that the colors are still bright, particularly the blues and purples. The owner’s family remembers something about the artist having exhibited at the Royal Academy in London around 1950, but the paintings have no titles, labels or additional identification.

So far, we have drawn a blank in trying to identify the artist and his/her signature, but maybe a sharp-eyed viewer will have the answer? [Click on any image to enlarge] If you can help, please e-mail us or use the comments feature at the bottom of individual posts.

Painting #1:

1-1imagePainting #2:

3-1imagePainting #32-1image

Signatures from paintings #1 and #2 (click to enlarge):
1-2signature2-2signature

All images reproduced by kind permission of Ann Hithersay. These images may not be reproduced elsewhere without prior written permission.

Other mysteries relating to Lake Chapala authors and artists:

Sombrero Books welcomes comments, corrections or additional material related to any of the writers and artists featured in our series of mini-bios. Please email us or use the comments feature at the bottom of individual posts.

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