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Feb 262015
 

The distinguished painter and musician Gustavo Sendis divided much of his time between Guadalajara, where he was born in 1941, and his family’s second home in Ajijic.

Gustavo Sendis: Untitled. Credit: Galería Vértice.

Gustavo Sendis: Untitled. Credit: Galería Vértice.

He became interested in art at an early age and studied drawing with Jorge Navarro and Ernesto Butterlin. His love of guitar music and painting took him to Spain for a time. On his return to Guadalajara, he exhibited paintings and gave guitar recitals. During a second trip to Europe, he continued to exhibit his work and give concerts. The inspiration for many of his paintings (which include scenes hand-painted onto stoneware plates) came from Jalisco locations, such as Ajijic and Lake Chapala, that he first knew as a child.

Gustavo Sendis: Volcán. Credit: Galería Vértice.

Gustavo Sendis: Volcán. Credit: Galería Vértice.

Sendis’ first formal exhibition was at the Casa de la Cultura Jalisciense in Guadalajara in (1968). He also exhibited in several European countries, including Italy, Switzerland, Portugal and Spain, where he participated in the Ibiza Biennial in 1971. His work was included in a joint show at Malaspina College (now Vancouver Island University) in Nanaimo, B.C., in July 1980, with works by Zbigniew Olak and Aquatic Exotic.

Credit: Ramon Macias Mota, Las Seis Cuerda de la Guitarra (Google e-book)

Photo from Ramon Macias Mota, Las Seis Cuerda de la Guitarra (Google e-book)

Sendis lived for many years in Ajijic prior to his untimely death there from a heart attack, while still in his forties, in 1989. Fellow artist Tom Faloon extolled the quality of Sendis’ work, saying that he “did some wonderful paintings, and pretty much lived in his own world.”

In 2010, a major “Winter Collective” exhibition in Guadalajara at Galería Vértice   included a Sendis painting, alongside originals by such renowned artists as Rufino Tamayo, Gustavo Aceves, José Clemente Orozco, Rafael Coronel, Gunther Gerzso, Leonora Carrington and Juan Soriano.  Sendis’s work was also included in a similar exhibition the following year, alongside works by Georg Rauch, Jose Luis Cuevas, Juan Soriano and Francisco Toledo.

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.

May 122014
 

These extracts come from Dale Hoyt Palfrey’s review of the latest (4th) edition of “Western Mexico, a Traveler’s Treasury” for The Guadalajara Reporter, 18 April 2014.

9780973519150-Cover-thumbnail“Whether you’re an intrepid on-the-road adventurer or a relaxed armchair traveler, Tony Burton’s “Western Mexico: A Traveler’s Treasury” is an ideal companion… One factor that lends special appeal to this singular travel book is Burton’s departure from the stock formula found in conventional guides. He adheres to a more organic approach, drawing on personal experience and meticulous research to divulge the virtues and peculiarities of every destination.”

“Another major strength is the author’s attention to historical details that enrich the individual profile of each place. In some cases he scratched up intriguing facts by chatting with the local people, in others he tapped on tireless study of a vast array of previously published works. The bibliography lists writings going back as far as 1899, as well as “Lake Chapala through the Ages,” Burton’s own compilation of excerpts from works by other travel writers covering the era of 1530-1910.”

“Above all, the British-born geographer is a bold adventurer who delights in departing from the main travel routes to explore back roads and discover unexpected corners that other travelers and writers often see as nothing more than dots on the map. He has a knack for digging up the idiosyncrasies of each destination he visits, be it local legends and folklore, off-beat museums, geological characteristics, mining deposits of minerals, stones and precious metals, or an outstanding restaurant, inn or spa worthy of mention.”

“First published in 1993, the revised and expanded fourth edition of “Western Mexico”… opens with what qualifies as the most comprehensive guide to the Lake Chapala region available in English. “The next segment explores the agricultural valley and the Sierra highlands stretching west from Guadalajara. Part three covers Tapalpa, Mazamitla and other high altitude spots, plus the city of Colima. From there the text follows a route northeast of Guadalajara into the region of Los Altos and beyond Jalisco’s borders to León, Guanajuato and Aguascalientes, continuing into Zacatecas and the far-flung northern “hand” of Jalisco.”

“Material in parts six and seven spans the Pacific coast from San Blas, Nayarit to Cuyutlán, Colima. The final chapters thoroughly survey the state of Michoacán.”

“The development of Puerto Vallarta and the birth of the Paricutín volcano stand out among the book’s fascinating historical accounts. Expositions on Jalisco’s Manantlán Biosphere Reserve and the Monarch butterfly sanctuaries of Michoacán are obligatory reading to grasp the value of Mexico’s extraordinary natural treasures.”

“Burton’s clear writing style and bonus sidebar boxes added to each chapter make for easy, breezy reading. A series of area maps drawn by the author and Mark Eager’s attractive pen and ink illustrations of different locales complement the text. The cover art work is a reproduction of a watercolor scene of Ajijic by the late Georg Rauch.”

Both paperback and Kindle editions of “Western Mexico: A Traveler’s Treasury” may be purchased from amazon.com. Ajijic outlets that keep the printed book in stock are Diane Pearl Colecciones, Opus Boutique and La Nueva Posada. Guadalajara residents may place orders through Sandi Bookstore.

[This review, by Dale Hoyt Palfrey, first appeared in The Guadalajara Reporter, 18 April 2014]

Mar 222014
 

For anyone who lives or travels in western Mexico, Tony Burton’s Western Mexico: A Traveler’s Treasury is a “must have.” I own a well traveled copy of the third edition (2001) but I was delighted to see a fourth edition (2013) recently appear…in part because so many changes have taken place in the decade or so that has followed the third edition. For example, Guachimontones, the round pyramids west of Guadalajara, is described in far more detail than in the third addition.

There are lots of other changes as well. “A federal project to promote cultural tourism, called Pueblos Mágicos (Magic Towns), has brought much more publicity to no fewer than 15 towns featured in previous editions, including Tapalpa, Tequila, Mazamitla, San Sabastián del Oeste, Lagos de Moreno, Comala, Pátzcuaro, Santa Clara del Cobre and Angangueo.” In this past decade, the “quality of hotels has also improved, with the opening of excellent boutique hotels, some of them in quite unexpected places….”

New chapters have been added, new material has been added to existing chapters, maps and directions have been updated, new destinations, like Zacatecas, have been developed in detail.

Reading Western Mexico: A Traveler’s Treasury, I felt that old desire rise up in me to be on the road, if only for a day or two. And so, even before writing this review, I called a young Mexican adventuress in Guadalajara. With the Kindle version of Western Mexico in hand we headed up a now modern highway to the charming old colonial town of Mazamitla, high in the mountains on the south side of Lake Chapala… and far more sophisticated than when I visited it twenty years ago. We even stayed in the inexpensive ($40US) boutique hotel Hostal Ciervo Rojo (a member of the Haciendas and Country Houses of Jalisco) recommended by Tony in his book.

A few days I went with a Chapala buddy on a day trip to Guachimontones, the round pyramids west of Guadalajara, passing trucks loaded with sugar cane, passing stands of a local potent drink called pajarete (a combination of milk, aguardiente, brown sugar, and sometimes chocolate) to arrive at what has become in a few short years, “one of the most astonishing archaeological sites anywhere n Mexico,” although only twenty years ago it was only “mounds of earth”. “The dramatic circular structures at Guachimontones, tiered in concentric terraces, are absolutely stunning….”

As Tony notes in his Introduction, this is “not intended to be a comprehensive guide to all the possible day trips and longer tours in the region…. Rather, it is a personal, idiosyncratic collection of my favorite places in Western Mexico….” The book is filled with whatever Tony finds fascinating… interesting and curious details of history and geography and geology and flora and fauna, and art and architecture and archaeology.

My kind of book!

Parts One and Two cover destinations within three hours of Guadalajara or the north shore of Lake Chapala…day trips. Part One begins with a history of the region from ancient times to the present, and discusses in detail Mezcala Island—“Lake Chapala’s National Monument”—and the “The Riviera communities: Chapala, Ajijic and Jocotepec,” although the spas at San Juan Cosalá, like the luxurious Monte Coxala with its large-scale pre-Hispanic replicas, are also included along with interesting places to stay, like the Los Dos Bed & Breakfast in Jocotepec, which was the home and studio of internationally famous Austrian artist Georg Rauch. Although Rauch passed away a few years ago, his charming wife Phyllis continues to operate their bed and breakfast.

Part One also takes us to the south shore of Lake Chapala, to places like Jiquilpan, a nondescript town that gave birth to two important Mexican presidents—Anastacio Bustamante and Lázaro Cárdenas), and several distinguished artists, like José Clemente Orozco, “one of the famous “Big Three” of Mexican Muralism.” Rafael Méndez (whom I heard when I was a teen, back in Ohio), “arguably the world’s greatest ever trumpet virtuoso,” was also born in Jiquilpan.

In Part Two we go west of Guadalajara to Guachimontones—those round pyramids—and to old haciendas (with concise histories of each), and to Tala, the sugar town, and to the giant stone spheres near Alhualulco. We also learn about mines…silver, opals, obsidian, and of course we visit the ever popular town of Tequila.

Part Three takes us on longer trips, best for overnight stays, to picturesque mountains towns like Tapalpa, and through pine forests to Mazamitla, and to Colima, a provincial state capital with important archaeological sites. Near Colima is Volcá de Fuego, sometimes called Volcán Colima, “the most active volcano in Mexico, and indeed one of the most active in the world, having erupted at least 30 times since 1576.”

Parts Four to Nine cover longer trips, to places like León, the “Leather Capital of Mexico,” and to Aguascalientes, and Zacatecas, and Bolaños, where the “old mining town revives its fortunes.” In Part Six we head west to the coast, to San Blas and Guayabitos (a youthful beach town for “a modestly-priced family holiday”) and even to Puerto Vallarta, “the resort that keeps reinventing itself.” In Part Seven, Barra de Navidad and Melaque—places once popular with pirates like Sir Francis Drake and Thomas Cavendish–are jewels not to be missed, and discovered by tourists only a few decades ago. Part Eight finds us on the road to Tzintzuntzan and to Pátzcuaro, a region where the first Bishop of Michoacán, Don Vasco de Quiroga, “based his approach on the Utopian principles espoused by Thomas More. He established a series of communities in the vicinity of Lake Pátzcuaro, the heart of Tarascan country, where the people would receive training in arts and crafts alongside religious instruction.” He allocated “specific crafts to specific places,” and thus today, Paracho is famous for its guitars, Tzintzuntzan (named after the sound a hummingbird makes with its wings) is famous for its pottery, Santa Clara for copper, and so on.

The final section, Part Nine, is mostly about the beloved monarch butterflies of Michoacán. “Every winter, some one hundred million monarch butterflies fly into Mexico from the U.S. and Canada. On arrival they congregate in a dozen localities high in the temperate pine and fir forests of the state of Michoacán.” Tony discusses the various reserves where visitors can witness the amazing number of monarchs, but Tony also insists that you sample the delicious local blue-corn tortillas. He also takes you farther west to Tuxpan and the country where John Huston shot Treasure of the Sierra Madre, staring Humphrey Bogart. The first bend on the narrow road from Tuxpan to Jungapeo is the bend to have a name on the official topographic survey map: La Curva de la Gringa, a rather dangerous 110-degree bend.

Leaving The Gringa’s Curve behind, you come to the best place to overnight or vacation in this “scenically-stunning part of Mexico,” at the Agua Blanca Canyon Resort, “a charming, small spa-hotel with just 20 rooms, its pools and lawns overlooking the deeply carved valley of the River Tuxpan.”

As in the earlier editions, Tony concludes with a useful appendix that has a “Table of elevations and approximate driving times,” for example from Chapala to Barra de Navidad is four hours and thirty minutes, from Chapala to Mazamitla is one hour and forty-five minutes. He also advises you to take a look at “online forums, such as those on MexConnect.com, to ask for up-to-date information and advice from people who have recently made the same journey or visited the same places.”

If you live in western Mexico or are thinking about living here or visiting here, make this the first book you buy. It has always been a favorite of mine and this latest edition of Western Mexico: A Traveler’s Treasury is the best ever!

This review first appeared on MexConnect.com.

Ready to buy a copy?

The 4th (2013) edition of “Western Mexico: A Traveler’s Treasury” is now available at select bookstores, and at:

Want to learn more?

Jan 072014
 

San Sebastián del Oeste (Editorial Agata, Fotoglobo, 2001).

san-sebastian-del-oesteFotografias del pueblo de San Sebastián del Oeste, con textos cortos. Muy interesante.

Photographs of this magical town in the state of Jalisco, which is one of the most atmospheric mountain towns you could ever wish to see. Short texts (in Spanish) accompany the photos. A fine tribute to a wonderful place.

Softcover, 72 pages. Dimensions (in inches): 8.75 x 8.75 x 0.4. ISBN: 970-657-083-7 Price: US$20.00 (plus shipping, contact us for details)

Want to learn more about San Sebastián del Oeste?

 Posted by at 5:48 pm
Jan 072014
 

Tapalpa (Editorial Agata/Fotoglobo, 2001)

tapalpa-foto-globoShort articles on the locations set the scene for dozens of vintage sepia photographs of this historic village which has become a prime tourist destination (and is one of the “Magic Towns”) in Jalisco, Mexico. The book includes photos of Tapalpa, La Constancia, las Piedrotas, Los Frailes, Ferrería de Tula, Ojo Zarco, Arroyos, Buenavista, El Tacamo and Cascada el Saltito and Cascada de las Palomas.

Softcover, 64 pages. Dimensions (in inches): 10.6 x 7.8 x 0.2; ISBN: 970-657-102-7 Price: US $15.00  (plus shipping, contact us for details)

Related books:

 

 

 

 Posted by at 5:31 pm
Jan 072014
 

La Fiesta de San Andrés – Historia Visual (Editorial Agata/SCJ/Conaculta, 2003). Visual history, with Spanish-language text, of the Huichol Fiesta de San Andrés, related and photographed by anthropologist Kal Muller.

Famous photographer Kal (Kalman) Muller, who grew up in this Huichol Indian village in the sierras of Western Mexico, documents the relatively new tradition of celebrating the  fiesta of San Andrés. A highly unusual book, which could only have been produced by a great anthropologist-photographer.

fiesta-san-andresLa Fiesta de San Andrés nos muestra un rostro diferente del pueblo Wixarika (Huichol). La nación Wixarika famosa en todo el mundo por sus peculiares y arraigadas tradiciones, ritos, fiestas y cosmovisión, lo que ellos mismos llaman El Costumbre, se nos muestra inovadora, dinámica y adaptable. El antropólogo Kalman Muller, quien se crió en esta misma comunidad de San Andrós, y quien ha tenido contacto permanente con la misma durante toda su vida es el encargado de traernos estos vivencias. Mismas que nacieron por iniciativa de la propia comunidad, bajo la invitación de Rosalío Rivera Sánchez “Chalío”, para el legado histórico de las futuras generaciones Wixarikas y del mundo entero.

Language: Spanish. Softcover, 78 pages. Dimensions (in inches): 10.7 x 8.0 x 0.25 ISBN: 970-657-122-1 Price: US$20.00 plus shipping (contact us for details)

Want to learn more about the Huichol Indians?

 

 Posted by at 4:47 pm
Jan 072014
 

The Jew with the Iron Cross: A Record of Survival in WWII Russia, by Georg Rauch (iUniverse, Inc., 2006).

rauchPaperback: 269 pages; ISBN-13: 978-0595379873; dimensions: 8.8 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches; Price: US$15.00 plus shipping (contact us for details)

As a teenager, author Georg Rauch helped his mother protect the Jewish couples hidden in their Viennese attic. Officially classified as one-quarter Jewish, Rauch is drafted into Hitler’s army and sent to fight for causes he detests. Rauch finds himself near death many times, but his talents as a shortwave radio operator, chef, and even harmonica player all play a role in his survival. Captured by the Russians in the autumn of 1944, Rauch faces brutality and near-fatal illness as a POW. Recruitment for Russian espionage saves his life this time, but his story isn’t over yet.

Based on eighty letters sent home from the Russian trenches, The Wooden Spoon is a riveting tale of paradox and survival during World War II.

“A fascinating account of what it was like for a partial Jew to serve in the German military during World War II. Rauch’s experiences and hardships dramatically depict the physical and emotional struggles of a ‘Mischling’ during the Third Reich.”—Bryan Mark Rigg, author of Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers

“Not about combat tactics but about what it meant to be in an army at war. Rauch has put a human face on aspects of the war that are usually only referred to in passing.”—Tom Houlihan, WWII cartographer

Georg Rauch was a successful professional artist who exhibited extensively in Europe, the United States and Mexico. Rauch and his wife, Phyllis, made their home overlooking Lake Chapala in the central highlands of Mexico for more than thirty years.

Want to learn more about this very interesting artist?

Jan 072014
 

Jalisco en el progreso de México – aportación a la obra de gobierno del Lic. J. Jesús Gónzalez Gallo. 6. Estudios Fundamentales. Published in Guadalajara, Jalisco, 1947.

gonzalez-gallo-jalisco-en-el-progreso-de-mexicoPaper bound. Papel cultural. 287 pp. Some minor stains and marks, but no annotations, notes or signatures.

Includes chapters:

  • Cronología Jalisciense by Prof. Ramón García Ruiz
  • Estudio Demográfico by Srta . Aurora P. Magallon
  • Estudio Económico de la Industria by Juan Victor Verges
  • Economía Agrícola y Ganadera Forestal de Caza y Pesca by Lic. Francisco Arguellos Castañeda
  • Comercio y Transportes by Lic. Augusto Avalos Lemus
  • Politica Hacendaria by Srts. Lic. María Steimpress Esponda.

(1947)

RARE. Price US$20.00 plus shipping. Please contact us for rates.

 Posted by at 10:18 am
Jan 072014
 

A visit to Don Otavio, A Mexican journey, by Sybille Bedford  (Eland, 1982).

bedford-don-otavio-red319 pages. Price: US$8.00 plus shipping. Please contact us for rates.

This is the classic travel account based on a prolonged visit to Mexico (principally the area around Lake Chapala) in the early 1950s by the fine British travel writer Sybille Bedford. Slight crease to top right of front cover; tiny stain on frontispiece; otherwise a clean, tight copy with no apparent markings.

 Posted by at 10:14 am
Jan 072014
 

A visit to Don Otavio, A Mexican odyssey, by Sybille Bedford  (Eland, 2002).

bedford-don-otavio-grey312 pages. Price: US$8.00 plus shipping. Please contact us for rates.

This is the classic travel account based on a prolonged visit to Mexico (principally the area around Lake Chapala) in the early 1950s by the fine British travel writer Sybille Bedford. Former owner’s signature on frontispiece; otherwise a clean, tight copy with no apparent markings.

 Posted by at 10:06 am