Sep 112017
Photographer Toni Beatty found creative freedom while living in Ajijic in 1976

Photographer Toni Beatty and her husband Larry Walsh lived in Mexico for several years, starting with a three month stay in Ajijic in 1976. Beatty and Walsh had originally planned to spend six months traveling through Mexico before heading further south to Peru, but they ended up staying in Mexico for nine years! Toni Beatty […]

Sep 072017
Nationally-acclaimed sculptor and painter Adolfo Riestra (1944-1989) lived in Ajijic in the 1970s

Adolfo Riestra, a superb sculptor and painter, lived and worked in Ajijic from about 1971 to 1976. For most of this time, he occupied the former home (Constitución #32) of German artist Peter Huf and his wife Eunice Hunt. Riestra and his partner, Wendy Jones, had 2 young children at the time. Riestra was born […]

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Sep 042017
How Lake Chapala and some cookies led Frank Herbert to write Dune, the all-time sci-fi classic

Near the start of his writing career, an impecunious Frank Herbert, the genius behind the epic science fiction novel Dune, lived in the town of Chapala for several months. It was September 1953 and Herbert was 32 years old and struggling to make a living as a writer. Herbert would not have been in Chapala […]

Aug 312017
American anthropologist Frederick Starr visited Chapala in 1895

Frederick Starr (1858-1933), born in Auburn, New York, was a distinguished American anthropologist who visited Lake Chapala over the winter of 1895-1896. Starr, whose primary scientific background was in geology, graduated from Lafayette College in 1882 and was appointed as a biology professor at Coe College. In 1889, as his academic interests shifted towards ethnology […]

Aug 282017
Acclaimed American photographer Sylvia Salmi lived in Ajijic in the 1960s and 1970s

Sylvia Ester Salmi (1909-1977) was a prominent and highly respected American photographer. During the 1930s and 1940s, she took portraits of numerous great artists and intellectuals of the time, including Bertrand Russell, Albert Einstein and, in Mexico, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco and Leon Trotsky. In 1964, following the death of her second […]

Aug 242017
Bet Lamoureux visited Ajijic in 1951 to write a book. Did she ever complete it?

Bet Lamoureux was a writer and artist with close links to Los Angeles and to Desert Hot Springs in California. A short news item in the Palm Springs-based Desert Sun newspaper in 1951 says that Lamoureux was flying to Mexico City and Guadalajara in order to spend several months in Ajijic, where “Once settled in […]

Aug 212017
Allen Pendergraft loved Mexico and painted in Ajijic in 1951

Orley Allen Pendergraft was born in Arizona on 12 May 1918. He worked as a school teacher for many years and was ordained as a minister prior to deciding to dedicate himself to art. Even before he completed college, Pendergraft had made several visits to Mexico, usually to Rocky Point (Puerto Peñasco) on the Sea […]

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Aug 172017
Writer and publisher Michael Hargraves was a frequent visitor to Lake Chapala in the 1970s and 1980s

Michael Hargraves is a writer of screenplays, literary surveys, bibliographies and literary criticism. He was a frequent visitor to Lake Chapala in the 1970s and 1980s, usually staying for two or three months at a time. He is included in this on-going series of profiles because in 1992, he self-published a 48-page booklet entitled Lake […]

Aug 142017
Clark Hulings (1922-2011) and his evocative paintings of Chapala

Clark Hulings, an acclaimed American realist painter, visited Mexico on numerous occasions. The precise timing of his visit or visits to Lake Chapala remains unclear, but in 1975 he completed the painting Chapala Fruit Vendor (below). He also painted several other works related to Lake Chapala and Ajijic. The dates of his visits are uncertain […]

Aug 102017
Artist and writer Allyn Hunt has lived in Jocotepec since the 1960s

Artist and writer Allyn Hunt has lived in the Lake Chapala area since the mid-1960s. Hunt was the owner and editor for many years of the weekly English-language newspaper, the Guadalajara Reporter. His weekly columns for the newspaper quickly became legendary. (Hunt’s wife, Beverly, also worked at the Guadalajara Reporter and later ran a real […]

Aug 072017
Marcella Crump, a photographer who documented Ajijic life in the 1950s and 1960s

At the request of a family member, we have removed our original profile of Marcella Crump (ca 1926-2017) and replaced it with this summary version. Crump was a photographer who was  active in Ajijic in the late 1950s and early 1960s and whose story is similar in some ways to that of Beverly Johnson who […]

Aug 032017
Best-selling novelist Barbara Bickmore: Ajijic's very own Cinderella

American novelist Barbara Bickmore was born in Freeport, New York, on 10 June 1927 and died in Anacortes, Washington, on 23 February 2015 at the age of 87. She lived and wrote in Ajijic from 1990 to 1997 and often described these seven years in later interviews as the happiest years of her life. Bickmore […]

Jul 312017
Gerry Pierce painted several watercolors in Ajijic in the mid-1940s.

Watercolorist, etcher and illustrator Elbridge Gerry Peirce Jr., more usually known simply as Gerry Peirce, was born in Jamestown, New York on 3 June 1900 and died in Tucson, Arizona, on 16 March 1969. Peirce visited Ajijic in the mid-1940s, and may have been there more than once since he is known to have made […]

Jul 272017
In 1948, anthropologist George Barker witnessed Chapala's Christmas Play

Dr. George Carpenter Barker (1912-1958) was an anthropologist, author, editor and translator. What makes Barker a worthy inclusion in our series of mini-biographies of artists and authors associated with Lake Chapala is his editing and translation of a performance of a nativity play or pastorela in the village churchyard that he saw on Christmas morning […]

Jul 242017
Architect Jean Taylor Strange lived more than forty years in Chapala

Architect Jean Taylor Strange moved to Chapala with her husband William Strange in January 1965 (having bought a house in Chapala Haciendas in December 1964) and resided there for more than forty years. Besides the fact that she worked with her husband on researching his radio documentaries about Mexico for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), […]

Jul 202017
Oakley Hall worked at Lake Chapala on his third novel in 1952

Novelist Oakley Hall was a professor of English at the University of California, Irvine, and directed its creative writing program. Hall and his wife Barbara Edinger Hall, a photographer, lived at Lake Chapala for about six months in 1952, during which time, according to Michael Hargraves in A literary Survey of Lake Chapala, Hall was […]

Jul 172017
Sculptor and print-maker James Steg spent the summer of 1958 in Ajijic

Painter, sculptor and print-maker James Steg, who was Professor of Art at Newcomb College, Tulane University, in New Orleans for more than forty years, worked in Ajijic during the summer of 1958. James Louis Steg (“Jim”) was born in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1922 and died in New Orleans in 2001. He gained his M.A. degree […]

Jul 132017
Former CBC war correspondent Captain Bill Strange produced radio documentaries in Chapala

Captain H. E. William (“Bill”) Strange OBE was Director of Naval Information in the Canadian Navy before “retiring” to Mexico with his wife, Jean, in January 1965 (having bought a house in Chapala Haciendas in December 1964) . He then proceeded to research, write and produce several radio documentaries about Mexico for the Canadian Broadcasting […]

Jul 102017
David Sinclair Nixon, Ezra Pound and Ajijic

In Dust on my Heart (1946) Neill James relates several stories about “David Nixon, a New Orleans artist, and his wife June”, who were apparently seriously considering buying property at Lake Chapala until they were informed about various acts of violence that had been perpetrated there. The Nixons never did buy property in Ajijic and […]

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Jul 062017
Abraham Lincoln, Rixford Lincoln, and a poem about Lake Chapala

Wow! Lake Chapala connected to Abraham Lincoln? Well, yes, albeit in a somewhat tenuous, roundabout way that I will now attempt to explain. The key character in this story is Rixford Joseph Lincoln, who was born into a prominent New Orleans family on 22 August 1872. His father, Lemuel L. Lincoln, had been a Major […]

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