Apr 252016
Poet and author Diego José Abad (1727-1779)

Diego José Abad (1727-1779) was a Mexican poet and author, born in Jiquilpan, Michoacán (then on the shores of Lake Chapala). His birthplace appears to be the only direct connection that he has to Lake Chapala. Abad, born on 1 June 1727, was the eldest son in a wealthy ranch-owning family. At twelve years of […]

Apr 182016
Ruth Ross-Merrimer and her novel "Champagne & Tortillas"

Ruth Ross-Merrimer and her husband Robert Merrimer first lived in Ajijic in 1986 and she returned there in 1999, shortly after her husband’s death in Tucson, Arizona. In 2004, she moved to Palm Springs, California, where she died on 6 June 2011, at the age of 86. While living in Ajijic, Ross-Merrimer wrote and self-published […]

Apr 142016
Pioneer photographer Dorothy Hosmer visited Ajijic in 1945

Dorothy Hosmer, born in about 1911, spent much of her life combining adventure and photography. She visited Ajijic with her mother for a short time in 1945, where she met, among others, artists Otto Butterlin and Sylvia Fein. Fein recalls that Hosmer was planning to write an article about the area, with the intention of […]

Apr 112016
Ajijic in the 1960s: excerpts from Ralph J. McGinnis's "Lotus Land"

Ralph Jocelyn McGinnis (1894-1966) was a sports writer, publicist and painter who lived in Ajijic during the early 1960s and penned an article about the area entitled “Lotus Land”. “Lotus Land” was written initially in 1964 as an open letter to friends in the U.S., but McGinnis subsequently sold copies in the Lake Chapala area […]

Apr 072016
Painter and sculptor Mel Schuler exhibited in Chapala in 1949

Melvin (“Mel”) Schuler (1924-2012) was a sculptor, educator and a co-founder of the Humboldt State University Arts Department. Shortly after commencing his distinguished teaching career in 1947 at Humboldt State University, he was one of six artists exhibiting at the Villa Montecarlo in Chapala in August 1949. The exhibit, entitled “Cuarta exposicion anual de pintura” […]

Apr 042016
Ralph McGinnis (1894-1966), author of "Lotus Land"

Ralph Jocelyn McGinnis (1894-1966) was a sports writer, publicist and painter who lived in Ajijic during the early 1960s and penned an article about the area entitled “Lotus Land”. “Lotus Land” was written initially in 1964 as an open letter to friends in the U.S., but McGinnis subsequently sold copies in the Lake Chapala area […]

Mar 312016
De Nyse W. Turner Pinkerton (1917-2010) painted at Lake Chapala from 1970 to 2004

Portraitist De Nyse Wortman Turner Pinkerton (aka De Nyse Turner) was born in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, on 3 December 1917 and died in Naples, Florida, on 3 April 2010, at the age of 92. Pinkerton resided and worked at Lake Chapala, for at least part of each year, for more than thirty years, from 1970 […]

Mar 282016
Novelist, author and screenwriter Stephen Schneck (1933-1996)

Stephen Schneck was born 2 January 1933 in New York and died on 26 November 1996 in Palm Springs, California. He led a varied life, including stints as a novelist, author, actor and screenwriter, among other pursuits. Schneck studied at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, and then spent several years traveling around Mexico, where he […]

Mar 242016
Winifred Godfrey, one of America's top floral painters

Winifred (“Winnie”) Godfrey is best known for her floral paintings, but has also produced a number of fine, figurative works, including a series based on the Maya people of Mexico and Guatemala. She first visited Mexico, where her aunt was then living, in 1965, and spent about a year in Guadalajara. In 1966 she taught […]

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Mar 212016
Richard Zdenko Moravec, chemist and film-maker

Author and filmmaker Richard Zdenko Moravec is known to have visited Ajijic in about 1945, where he met Barbara Keppel-Compton who later wrote To The Isthmus, a novel which includes fact-based passages about their time there. The pair, both of whom had previous marriages, became husband and wife in 1951. Artist Sylvia Fein remembers Moravec […]

Mar 172016
What's the connection between sculptor Mym Tuma, artist Georgia O'Keefe and Jocotepec?

American sculptor and painter Mym Tuma had her studio in San Pedro Tesistan, near Jocotepec, the town at the western end of Lake Chapala, from 1968 to 1973. Tuma, formerly known as Marilynn Thuma, has become an important figure in the contemporary American art world. Tuma was born 23 September 1940 in Berwyn, Illinois. She […]

Mar 102016
Gerald Collins Gleeson (1915-1986) painted watercolors of Chapala in 1981

Gerald Collins Gleeson (1915-1986) was an American artist, primarily known for his superb watercolors. He is known to have painted several watercolors in the Lake Chapala area in 1981, including a street scene titled “Chapala, Mexico” and a picture of the former Railway Station in Chapala (the historic building that is now the Gonzalez Gallo […]

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Mar 072016
Barbara Compton, author of "To The Isthmus", a novel partly set at Lake Chapala

Barbara Joan Keppel-Compton (1902-1999), also later known as Barbara Keppel-Compton Witt, and Barbara Moravec, used the name Barbara Compton for her novel To The Isthmus, partially set at Lake Chapala in the 1940s. The novel is largely autobiographical, and events and characters are only thinly disguised. (We look more closely at the novel’s links to […]

Mar 032016
Leo Matiz (1917-1998) photographed Lake Chapala in the 1940s

Leonet (“Leo”) Matiz Espinoza was a Colombian photographer and caricaturist who lived and worked in Mexico in the 1940s. In 2011, eight gelatin silver prints in a series called “Fishing on Lake Chapala” came up at auction with an estimate of 8000 Euros; one of these eight images appears below. Matiz was born on 1 […]

Feb 292016
Poet Robert (Bob) Hunt was a regular visitor to Chapala for several decades

Santa Fe poet Robert (“Bob”) Hunt (1906-1964) visited Chapala regularly with poet Witter Bynner (1881-1968) for about thirty years, starting in the early 1930s. Hunt, whose full name was Robert Nichols Montague Hunt, was Bynner’s long-time partner, as well as being a poet in his own right. Born in Pasadena, California, on 19 May 1906, […]

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Feb 252016
Californian artist Jack Rutherford lived and worked in Ajijic in the 1960s

Jack Harris Rutherford lived with his first wife, Dorothy, and their four children, in San Blas in 1963, before moving to Ajijic in about 1966. He remained a resident of Ajijic, making occasional visits to San Blas, until 1971, when the family relocated across the Atlantic to southern Spain. Rutherford was born in Long Beach, […]

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Feb 222016
Novelist Elaine Gottlieb (1916-2004) wrote a short story based in 1940s Ajijic

Elaine Gottlieb (1916-2004) was a novelist, author and teacher who lived for several months in Ajijic in the second half of 1946. She traveled to Mexico shortly after completing her first novel, Darkling, which was published the following year. She used her experiences in Ajijic as the basis for a short story, “Passage Through Stars”, […]

Feb 182016
Roy MacNicol's adventurous life and artistic career

Roy Vincent MacNicol (1889-1970), “Paintbrush Ambassador of Goodwill”, had an extraordinary artistic career, even if his personal life was sometimes confrontational. The American painter, designer, writer and lecturer had close ties to Chapala for many years: in 1954, he bought and remodeled the house in Chapala that had been rented in 1923 by English author […]

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