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?

Mar 222012
 

Artist and photographer John Frost was born 21 May 1923 in Pasadena, California. John and his wife Joan Frost, an author, lived for more than forty years in Jocotepec, before returning to California in 2012.

John is the son of John and Priscilla (Morgrage) Frost and grandson of the famous American illustrator A. B. Frost. [1]

John became interested in photography and the magic of the darkroom at age 14. He attended Midland School, a small boarding school near Los Olivos, California, and later earned a degree in Graphic Art following military service in the Pacific during the second world war and then settled into artistic and commercial photography in the mid-1950s.

John’s first solo exhibition, of mixed media pieces, in which drawings were photographed, enlarged and chemically treated to transform colors, was in Bobinart Gallary in Los Angeles in the early 1960s. This exhibition moved to Purdue University in 1966, shortly after Frost had relocated to Jocotepec with his wife. At Purdue, the opening of the exhibit was accompanied by a lecture about the “beat generation”. At the time, Purdue was embroiled in a bitter city versus university battle, on account of the Police Chief having ordered the university library to withdraw from circulation all books by Henry Miller, the American author then living in France.

John Frost (then 41 years old) married Joan Van Every (35) on 26 September 1964 in San Bernadino, California. In 1966, the couple relocated to Mexico, living for a short time in Uruapan in Michoacán before establishing their permanent home and photographic studio in Jocotepec.

In 1968, an exhibition of his silkscreens at La Galería in Guadalajara prior to the 1968 Olympics attracted the attention of TV broadcasters. Frost declined to give them permission to film his silkscreens since they asked him for $200 towards the production costs!

In May 1971, Frost was among the large group of artists exhibiting at “Fiesta de Arte” at a private home in Ajijic. Other artists showing there included Daphne Aluta; Mario Aluta; Beth Avary; Charles Blodgett; Antonio Cárdenas; Alan Davoll; Alice de Boton; Robert de Boton; Tom Faloon; Dorothy Goldner; Burt Hawley; Peter Huf; Eunice (Hunt) Huf; Lona Isoard; Michael Heinichen; John Maybra Kilpatrick; Gail Michael; Bert Miller; Robert Neathery; John K. Peterson; Stuart Phillips; Hudson Rose; Mary Rose; Jesús Santana; Walt Shou; Showaltar (?); Sloane; Eleanor Smart; Robert Snodgrass; and Agustín Velarde.

John Frost: Nude with flower

John Frost: Nude with flower

For several years, John Frost focused on his paintings and silkscreens. He worked closely, and shared his silkscreen techniques, with several other Jocotepec-based artists, including (Don) Shaw, Georg Rauch and Ra Rysiek Ledwon. Georg Rauch went on to experiment with his own silkscreen techniques using non-toxic materials, producing his own masterful silkscreens for many years. John also had a profound influence on the young painter Synnove Pettersen (1944-), who attributes her decision to return to doing silkscreen (serigraph) pieces at that stage in her career to his enthusiasm and encouragement.

Starting in 1979, John Frost became the premier aerial photographer in western Mexico, amassing an impressive collection of images (now housed in the University of Colima), especially of the Lake Chapala region, the volcanoes of Colima and the rapidly developing mid-Pacific coast of Colima and Jalisco, including the area around Manzanillo.

His aerial photographs have featured in several exhibitions, including four solo exhibitions in the state of Colima, three in the state capital and one on the university campus in Manzanillo. John Frost’s photos can be found in the collections of several Colima and Jalisco state agencies. A selection of his photographs graced the Guadalajara airport at the time of the 1986 World Cup, and his photos were exhibited in one of the lateral galleries of the Cabañas Cultural Institute in Guadalajara. This may have been the first time any Lakeside artist had ever been invited to exhibit in the Institute, arguably Jalisco’s single most important exhibition space. (Several years later, the Institute would invite fellow Jocotepec artist Georg Rauch to hold a retrospective of his work there, occupying the main galleries).

Once, when chatting with me, John Frost remarked that “I never quite met my family’s expectations”. If that is really true, then I can only conclude that his family’s expectations were utterly impossible to meet, since John’s superb photographs and silkscreens, as well as his quiet encouragement of many other artists and photographers, speak for themselves.

– – –

[1] Arthur Burdett Frost (1851-1928) (ABF), was an early American illustrator, graphic artist, and comics writer. He was also well known as a painter. ABF’s work is well known for its dynamic representation of motion and sequence. ABF is considered one of the great illustrators in the “Golden Age of American Illustration”. ABF illustrated over 90 books, and produced hundreds of paintings; in addition to his work in illustrations, he is renowned for realistic hunting and shooting prints.

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.

Mar 222012
 

Tony Burton (1953-) is an author and translator, born in the UK who lived full-time in Mexico for about 18 years and now resides on Vancouver Island, B.C., Canada.

His books include Western Mexico: A Traveler’s Treasury (4rd edition, 2013, Sombrero Books); previous editions 1993, 1997, 2001; Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico (co-authored with Richard Rhoda, 2010, Sombrero Books);  Lake Chapala Through The Ages; an anthology of travellers’ tales. (2008, Sombrero Books), El Occidente de México; un tesoro para el viajero (translation by Lorenza Castiello V. of 3rd edition of Western Mexico: A Traveler’s Treasury, 2004, Sombrero Books). His cartography includes Lake Chapala Map Set (2010, Sombrero Books).

He has contributed chapters to many books, including “Recreación y turismo en la cuenca Lerma-Chapala” (Recreation and Tourism in the Lerma-Chapala Basin) in La cuenca Lerma-Chapala. Un Atlas sobre el ambiente, su gente y los recursos (Mexico: INE/UNAM/CONACYT,  2006); “Climate and Geography” in Mexico’s Lake Chapala & Ajijic. The Insider’s Guide, by Teresa Kendrick. (Austin, Texas: MTI, 2000, 2005); “Chapala, Ajijic, Jocotepec” in Traveler’s Guide to Mexico (1997); “Fascinating scenery of Western Mexico’s “Volcanic Belt”, and “Snowbirds and Butterflies” in Mexico Living and Travel by Jean and John Bryant. (California: MRTA, 1994); “Enjoying Jalisco”, chapter 13 of Retiring to Mexico, edited by Nellie and Len Friedman (Indianapolis: ACC books, 1992).

He has also given numerous lectures, workshops and has written several academic papers.

His translations include Paricutín, Fifty Years after its Birth (Guadalajara: Editorial Agata, 1993), which is Simón Lázaro Jimenez’s autobiographical account of the eruption of Paricutín volcano published on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its eruption, and several other non-fiction works, including Wolfgang Vogt’s literary study Juan Rulfo and the South of Jalisco (Guadalajara: Editorial Agata, 1995); Espacios del lago de Chapala by Carlos Valencia Pelayo (Editorial Agata, 1998); A Drink Named Tequila. by José María Muriá (Editorial Agata, Guadalajara, 1996), Tonala Ceramics – Living Roots by Gutierre Aceves (Editorial Agata, 1994); Past Times in Chapala by Jesús González Gortázar (Editorial Agata, 1992); Maps and Charts of Mexico from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth century. Various authors. (INEGI/INAH, Mexico, 1988)

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