Jul 022015
Hung in the U.S. Supreme Court: two Lily Cushing paintings of Lake Chapala! Who knew?

Lily Dulany Cushing was born in Newport, Rhode Island, on 13 January 1909 and passed away on 21 September 1969 in Fishers Island, New York. She was married three times, but throughout her artistic career appears to have signed most paintings “L.C”. Her first, brief, marriage in 1929 was to George Crawford Clark Jr. After […]

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Jun 292015
Smith Kirkpatrick (1922-2008): novelist and acclaimed educator

Novelist and acclaimed creative writing instructor Smith Kirkpatrick spent several summers in Ajijic, with his wife Barbara, in the early 1960s and at one point was apparently working on a novel set in the village. The novel was never published. Kirkpatrick was born near Paris, Arkansas, on 28 November 1922, and passed away in Gainesville, […]

Jun 252015
British surrealist painter Bruce Sherratt lived in Jocotepec in the late 1960s

Artist and international art educator Bruce Robert Sherratt and his then wife Lesley Maddox, a British sculptor, lived in Jocotepec. at the western end of Lake Chapala, from 1968 to 1970. Prior to their arrival in Mexico, they had lived and traveled for some time in the USA. Bruce Robert Sherratt was born in Biddulph, […]

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Jun 222015
Honorato Barrera Buenrostro (1870-1952)

Poet, writer and politician Honorato Barrera Buenrostro was born in the Lakeside town of Jamay (mid-way between Ocotlán and La Barca) in 1870 and died in Ocotlán in 1952. He left his home town for Mexico City at a young age. In Mexico City, he studied and wrote alongside Amado Nervo (1870-1919) and Luis Gonzaga […]

Jun 182015
Ann Sonia Medalie (1896-1991), painter and muralist

Ann (sometimes Anna) Sonia Medalie (1896-1991) was a muralist early in her career before becoming an outstanding painter of flowers and landscapes. During her six years in Mexico (1942-1948), Medalie made occasional trips back to San Francisco, but was actively painting in Ajijic on Lake Chapala for six months in about 1943/44. American surrealist painter […]

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Jun 152015
Sam Eskin (1898-1974), ethnomusicologist

Sam Eskin (1898-1974) was an ethnomusicologist who traveled widely in the U.S. and beyond recording folk music. He was actively recording musical and cultural events for more than thirty years, from 1938 to 1969. His extraordinary audio collection includes material from the U.S., Latin America, the British Isles, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and East […]

Jun 122015

Painter and muralist Louis Ernest Lenshaw (1892-1988) was born in Esbjerg, Denmark, on 24 September, 1892. Lenshaw visited Chapala in the late 1940s or early 1950s while spending several months living and working in Guadalajara, though no details have yet emerged of his visit to Lakeside, or whether he painted whilst there. He does, however, […]

Jun 082015
George Ballou and a lost 500-page book about the artist-tourist colony at Lake Chapala

George Ballou was born in Madrid, Spain, probably on 21 November 1927, and is believed to have died in May 1986. His parents, Harold Ballou and Jenny Ballou, were journalists with the American News Service. George Ballou completed his high school education at Putney Academy in Virginia. According to an article about him in the […]

Jun 042015
Ernest Alexander (ca 1916-ca 1970), artist and photographer

One of the more interesting characters that made Ajijic a lively place to be in the early 1950s was the black American artist Ernest Alexander, known to most people simply as “Alex”. Alex was a painter and photographer who, from about 1950 to 1952, ran the Club Alacrán (Scorpion Club), a restaurant-bar in Ajijic, the […]

Jun 012015
ruth weiss, American poet

Born in 1928, ruth weiss is a renowned American poet, playwright and artist, best known for reciting her poetry to the accompaniment of live jazz. She visited Ajijic and Chapala briefly during an extended road trip to Mexico in 1958-1959, with her husband and her dog. weiss was born into a Jewish family in Berlin. […]

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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 […]