May 282015
Johann Moritz Rugendas (1802-1858) painted Lake Chapala in 1834

The great German landscape artist Johann Moritz Rugendas traveled in Mexico from 1831 to 1834, much of the time in the company of Eduard Harkort. In January 1934, they explored the shores of Lake Chapala, and remarked on its “solitary and tranquil beauty”. During the trip Rugendas completed at least two sketches of the lake, having […]

May 252015
Poet and writer Elizabeth Bartlett (1911-1994)

Elizabeth Bartlett (1911-1994) was a poet and writer who lived for a time in the Lake Chapala area with her artist-author husband Paul Alexander Bartlett and son Steven James Bartlett in the early 1950s. Later, in the 1970s, the family revisited the Chapala area several times from their then home in Comala, Colima. Bartlett gave […]

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May 212015
Artist and cactus collector Ferdinand Schmoll (1879-1950)

Ferdinand Schmoll (usually known in Mexico as Fernando Schmoll) was a German painter, born in Cologne in 1879, who owned a lakefront house west of the pier in Chapala for several years early in the twentieth century. It is unclear when Schmoll first arrived in Mexico, or in the Lake Chapala area, but he was […]

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May 182015
Paul Alexander Bartlett (1909-1990): artist and author

American artist and author Paul Alexander Bartlett (1909-1990) was a frequent traveler to Mexico who developed an obsession with Mexico’s ancient haciendas. Bartlett devoted years of his life to studying and documenting these haciendas (the mainstay of the colonial-era economy), gradually compiling an artistic record covering more than 350 of them throughout the country. While […]

May 142015
John Brandi, painter and poet

Distinguished American poet and painter John Brandi (born in California in 1943) lived in Jocotepec for some time in the period 1968-70, with his wife Renée Gregorio and their young daughter Giovanna. Brandi graduated in 1965 from California State University, Northridge, with a B.A. in art and anthropology, before working as a Peace Corps volunteer […]

May 112015
Frances Christine Fisher aka Christian Reid: novels and travel narratives

Christian Reid was the nom de plume chosen by Frances Christine Fisher (later Tiernan). As a woman writing in a man’s world, presumably she felt that her pen name would enable her to better compete with her male counterparts. Fisher was very familiar with the Lake Chapala area and must have visited it, or stayed […]

May 042015
Clique Ajijic: an art collective in the mid-1970s

The Clique Ajijic was a group of eight artists that existed as a loosely-organized collective for three or four years in the mid-1970s. The eight artists in the Clique Ajijic were (from left to right): Sydney Schwartzman, Adolfo Riestra, Gail Michaels, Hubert Harmon, Synnove (Shaffer) Pettersen, Tom Faloon, Todd (“Rocky”) Karns, and John Peterson (the only member […]

Apr 302015
Novelist and playwright Ray Rigby (1916-1995)

English novelist and playwright Raymond “Ray” Rigby was born in Rochford, England, in 1916 and died in Guadalajara aged 78 on 19 May 1995. In 1972, Rigby turned his back on a successful Hollywood career to move to Mexico. He lived initially in Jocotepec and for a short time in San Antonio Tlayacapan. About two […]

Apr 272015
Sylvia Fein, one of America’s foremost surrealists, lived and painted in Ajijic 1943-46

Sylvia Fein, one of America’s foremost female surrealist painters, spent several formative years in Ajijic in the 1940s. Born in Milwaukee in November 1919, she was only 19 when she met her future husband William “Bill” Scheuber. She studied at the University of Wisconsin, and the couple married on 30 May 1942. Even at that […]

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Apr 232015
Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965): artist, playwright and author

Lorraine Vivian Hansberry was an African American playwright, artist and author of political speeches and essays. She studied art in Ajijic at Lake Chapala in the summer of 1949, mid-way through her studies at the University of Wisconsin, where she took classes in art, literature, drama and stage design. Hansberry was born in Chicago on […]