DH Lawrence

Lakeside Feature: 100 Years Since Controversial Author’s Chapala Sojourn

By Ron Janoff

May and June of 2023 mark 100 years since the renowned and controversial English novelist, D. H. Lawrence, spent a remarkably productive and well-documented two months in Chapala.
Lawrence and his wife Frieda had embarked on a world-circling expedition in February 1922, traveling east and reaching San Francisco in September. They continued to Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico at the invitation of Mabel Dodge Luhan, a wealthy American arts patron.
Their stay in Taos was turbulent, and they soon decided to travel to Mexico. They reached Mexico City in March 1923, joined by two new friends from Santa Fe, the American poet, Witter Bynner, and his partner, Willard ”Spuds” Johnson.

Antonio Lopez Vega

Follow the Cobblestone Road on a Magical Realism Tour

By Mia Pratt

Lake Chapala’s Art of Mexican Magical Realism
Forty minutes south of Guadalajara, a talented community of Mexican magical realists have flourished quietly for decades in the historic villages lining the shores of Lake Chapala. Lakeside visitors flock to the area to wander its cobblestone roads and tour the magnificent murals gracing the walls of its plazas, streets and alleys.

The term “magical realism” was first coined by German photographer and art historian/critic Franz Roh in 1925 to describe modern realist paintings that included fantasy or dream-like elements. A more recent interpretation explains, “Magical realism is often compared to surrealism, but while surrealism focuses on the life of the mind, magical realism is grounded in the real world, showing fantastical elements as a part of everyday life…” (UGA Today).

Until recent years, magical realism was a relatively unknown genre of art outside of gallery and historian circles. However, thanks to the meteoric rise in popularity of Mexico’s Frida Kahlo, the term has entered the public lexicon. Frida Kahlo is arguably Mexico’s most famous Mexican magical realist and her image has become an iconic figure in popular culture for the enigmatic works she created from the 1920s through the 1950s. In the past few years her likeness has been reproduced on merchandise virtually everywhere. The interactive light show production “Frida – La Experiencia Inmersiva” tours the globe, other Kahlo exhibits are in play, and in March of 2023 an exhibit opened at the Museo de las Artes in Guadalajara. 

Victor Alcazar Oil Painting

This unprecedented explosion of interest in Kahlo has undoubtedly contributed to the current resurgence of interest in magical realism. In April of 2023 the prestigious Barron’s Magazine of New York published, “Among artistic themes that will play out at ‘Independent New York’ this May is an…exploration of magical realism that reflects artists drawing on interior worlds…” When New York’s finance and art circles takes notice, the world listens. Magical realism as a genre of art is being re-discovered by academia and trending on social media as a popular buzz-phrase. And in the villages of ancient Lake Chapala, Mexican magical realism has emerged from the shadows to reveal its treasures to the world.

In April of 2023 the prestigious Barron’s Magazine of New York published, “Among artistic themes that will play out at ‘Independent New York’ this May is an…exploration of magical realism that reflects artists drawing on interior worlds…” When New York’s finance and art circles takes notice, the world listens. Magical realism as a genre of art is being re-discovered by academia and trending on social media as a popular buzz-phrase. And in the villages of ancient Lake Chapala, Mexican magical realism has emerged from the shadows to reveal its treasures to the world.


The Ancient Origins of Mexican Magical Realism
Mexico’s unique form of magical realism existed long before the term was designated as an art classification by Roh in 1925. Mexico’s art of magical realism was born of mythologies originating from its ancient peoples, when life and spirit were seen as inseparable aspects of the human experience. In the
hearts and minds of the peoples who held them as sacred, depictions of Quetzalcoatl and other mythical deities portrayed in art and sculpture were surely magical and very real. So, while magical realism is a relatively modern artistic classification, Mexico’s unique form reflects a deep-rooted connection to its
origins as its artists expressed the mystical, spiritual, personal and familial aspects of its life and culture
for centuries.

Antonio Lopez Vega
Victor Alcazar

Magical Realism Fuels a Modern Artistic Renaissance in Lake Chapala
Lakeside’s Mexican magical realists create colorful narrative works with symbolism unique to its mythology while others have expanded beyond the traditional into fusion. As a result the area is experiencing a modern artistic renaissance as artists incorporate new elements into their work including urban symbolism, commercial references, surrealist imagery and street graffiti. The diversity of styles evident in the original works by Lake Chapala artists is intoxicating. In recent years, the stylistic differences between the urban-surrealist influences of Guadalajara and the rural-mythological influences of Lake Chapala’s legendary magical realists have blurred. That blurring of lines and intermingling of styles has sparked a revolution with Mexican magical realism at its epicenter. In response, many of the astute collectors and art lovers who delighted in combing lakeside’s cobblestone streets and galleries in years past are returning. They arrive with fresh eyes, eager to discover exciting new works and artists as they emerge.

An Art Community Expanding Beyond Tradition
Some of Lake Chapala’s master artists studied as children in art programs facilitated by American Neill James, a philanthropist who provided art classes and scholarships for local youngsters. Starting in the 1950s, many of Lake Chapala’s masters of Mexican magical realism passed through her doors and went on to create some of Lakeside’s most historic and beloved murals. These magnificent murals are the crown jewels of Lake Chapala’s artscape, with some dating back decades while others are more recent. Visitors today may often observe local artists creating inspired works in realtime.

One thing unites all of Mexico’s artists; their work circles the heart of Mexican magical realism even as it shifts beyond its borders into other genres and realms of imagination. Shifting styles is a common trait of Mexican magical realists whose stylistic choices for artistic expression are not always manifested within a single genre. Famous Mexican magical realist Diego Rivera explored cubism, modern art, impressionism, social realism and other genres. Like Rivera, Lake Chapala’s magical realists often create in a variety of
styles. Some change styles between paintings while others change styles over time. Each artistic exploration reflects a facet of their personal point of view much like the turn of a kaleidoscope captures a unique view of its collective contents.

Rocio Vera Oil Painting

According to many of the Mexican artists with whom I spoke, the creative focus of Mexico’s magical realists is on freely expressing the truth of what inspires and moves them as artists, without limits or boundaries. Mexico’s historical dedication to freedom and independence is evident in the diversity of styles and originality of content in all of its artists

Rocio Vera Linoprint

Lake Chapala’s Past and Present: A Mecca for the Arts
Lake Chapala is recognized for its art, historic and cultural significance, and as a bohemian mecca for artists from all over the world. It is believed that artists first traversed the rugged mountain roads between Guadalajara and the lake as early as the 1880s. Lakeside continues to attract artists seeking to enjoy its natural beauty and art-centric lifestyle. Many of the Americans, Canadians and Europeans who settled in the area take classes from local Mexican masters, participate in art festivals and exhibitions, and volunteer in support of the local arts community

Recognizing Lake Chapala’s Art and Artists
There is no way to encapsulate the talent, variety of styles and cultural significance of Lake Chapala’s magical realist artist community. From its masters of traditional magical realism to emerging artists expanding into surrealism and fusion, the diversity within Lakeside’s cross-section of ages, styles and points-of-view is staggering. It is no wonder that the artscape of Lake Chapala has become an international destination for visitors and remains a thriving center-for-the-arts for its multicultural residents.

The State of Jalisco has established the village of Ajijic as a “Pueblo Magico” in recognition of its historic importance and its cultural center is an official Heritage Site. Local government and community organizations collaborate to produce art festivals and preserve the area’s rituals and traditions. The growing attraction to Lakeside by art-loving aesthetes benefits the full palette of artists and artisans by contributing to the financial growth of the area’s local businesses and families.

Chelo Gonzalez Oil Painting

The Future of Lake Chapala’s Modern Artistic Renaissance
Lake Chapala’s Mexican magical realists offer the world an intriguing view into the minds, imaginations and life experiences of a people undergoing an existential cultural shift as they toggle between traditionalism and modernity, village life and urban influences. The importance of this period of transition between the past and future of Mexican art cannot be overstated. Future art historians may well view Lake Chapala’s artistic renaissance as a revolution of sorts, a brilliant moment of transcendence in the continuum of creative and artistic passion that has flourished in Mexico since the dawn of time.

Mia Pratt is a magical realism artist, author and freelance writer living in the village of Ajijic in Lake Chapala, MX.
Explore more at www.MiaPrattFineArt.com

pbs news hour

PBS News Hour Covers Lake Chapala

In Mexico, seniors are traditionally cared for in the homes of relatives. But a boom of foreign retirees, many of them Americans, have begun moving to Mexico to live out their years, paying much less for independent and assisted living than in other countries. Special correspondent Kathleen McCleery reports.

A great many artists visit and receive inspiration from the beauty and tranquility that Lake Chapala has to offer.  Lakeside has begun to attract many younger people as well.  Mild climate, affordable cost of living, inexpensive medical and dental care, and many other service are a huge draw to the area for young and old alike!


Feria Maestros del Arte


logo-Feria 2010

Feria Maestros del Arte (English – Masters of Art Fair) is a non profit organization and annual three-day event held to support Mexican handcrafts and folk art in Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico. As an organization, it is a recognized in both Mexico and the United States. Unlike other fairs of this type, invited participants are not charged booth fees or percentages, and are even afforded transport and accommodations with area families. The Feria has grown from thirteen artisan participants to over eighty.  The main focus is to support the continuing existence of Mexican folk art, which is disappearing in many places due to migration and industrialization. Volunteers work to find artisans, raise funds, set up and take down and all operations during the event.

The three day event is held every November, with the main attraction being stalls of merchandise brought by Mexican artisans for sale. As of 2015, there are were over 80 participating artisans, from various Mexican states, especially Chiapas, Oaxaca, Michoacán and Jalisco. However, there have been representatives from as far north as Chihuahua and south to Yucatán.  The wares vary from many kinds of pottery such as bruñido (burnished), petallillo, pineapple forms from Michoacan, recreations of pre Hispanic pieces, amate paper, alpaca cutlery, alebrijes from Oaxaca, wicker furniture, dolls, Catrina figures and numerous textiles, especially from Oaxaca and Chiapas.  To date, the event has been popular mostly with foreign buyers, both living in and visiting Mexico, but it does attract a number of Mexican buyers as well. Many of the buyers are folk art collectors.

The artisans who participate are invited by the organization and change each year. These artisans are vetted by representatives of the Feria, with visits to workshops to see what is done, the quality and the make sure the wares are made by the artisans themselves.  Some are already well known in Mexican folk art circles, such as those featured in works such as the Grand Masters of Mexican Folk Art, but others are completely unknown.  Some are families who have done the craft for generations.  As the purpose is to support the artisans, participants are not charged booth fees or a percentage of sales.  Transportation of artisans is paid for by the Feria as well, with the same being housed by volunteer families in their homes. These families are mostly expats living in and near Chapala, and they not only provide beds, but also food and social outlets.  The organization states that it helps to create inter-cultural bonds, and for many of the artisans, their first contact with the world outside their home.  Some of the artisans are illiterate and many never have been out of their hometowns.


Guadalajara International Book Fair

guad-book-fairThe Guadalajara International Book Fair, better known as the FIL (from its Spanish name: Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara) is the most important annual event of its kind in the Spanish-speaking world, but second in attendance after Buenos Aires‘, and the second largest book fair in the world after Frankfurt‘s.  The purpose of the FIL is to provide an optimal business environment for the book-industry professionals and exhibitors who attend the fair, and for the reading public eager to meet authors and pick up the latest entries in the market.   With business as one of its main goals, it is also a cultural festival in which literature plays a major role including a program where authors from all continents and languages participate, and a forum for the academic discussion of the major issues of our time.

276px-FIL_Expo_GDLCreated in 1987, the FIL is put on by the University of Guadalajara and is held at the Expo Guadalajara convention center, which has 40,000 m2 of floor space. FIL is held every year, starting on the last Saturday in November and continuing for nine days, in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.

For nine days, people willingly stand in long lines to listen to their favorite authors, the book industry makes Guadalajara its beating heart and the whole city is filled with the music, arts, cinema and theatre from the featured Guest of Honor which this year is Latin America.

For more information regarding events, registration, schedules, see the FiL website

Comments from 360 Xochi Quetzal Artists:

“FIL was wonderful and it was so energizing to be surrounded by so many books and readings from all over the world.”
-Elizabeth Hawkins
Writer and Immigration Attorney, Seattle


“What an awesome experience to travel to the Feria Internacional de Libros with fellow lovers of literature. So many books. So much fun. Can’t wait to do it again.”
-Susan Nadathur
Writer, Puerto Rico
Article-Day of the Dead

Dia de los Muertos

It’s a Dead Man’s Party!

Article image

Come the beginning of November, Mexican families throw a feast and invite the dead over for dinner. Though Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is often confused with Halloween due to the proximity in time, this holiday is not about ghouls and goblins, but instead honors the dead and welcomes their souls home as a blessing.

Selena's AltarAltars and offerings are a way to remember family members who have passed into the afterlife, as well as celebrities, beloved to the Mexican population.  In this culture, the lines between life and death are blurred and the acceptance of mortality becomes a liberation from fear. Indeed, life and death live on parallel planes in Mexico. This beautiful festival has a profound life lesson that transcends life itself.

Celebrated in central and southern Mexico during the chilly days of November 1 & 2.   It is believed that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them.

In most villages, beautiful altars (ofrendas) are made in each home. They are decorated with candles, buckets of flowers (wild marigolds called cempasuchil & bright red cock’s combs) mounds of fruit, peanuts, plates of turkey mole, stacks of tortillas and big Day-of-the-Dead breads called pan de muerto. The altar needs to have lots of food, bottles of soda, hot cocoa and water for the weary spirits. Toys and candies are left for the angelitos, and on Nov. 2, cigarettes and shots of mezcal are offered to the adult spirits. Little folk art skeletons and sugar skulls, purchased at open-air markets, provide the final touches.

p1020471090-5Day of the Dead is a very expensive holiday for these self-sufficient, rural based, indigenous families. Many spend over two month’s income to honor their dead relatives. They believe that happy spirits will provide protection, good luck and wisdom to their families. Ofrenda building keeps the family close.

On the afternoon of Nov. 2, the festivities are taken to the cemetery. People clean tombs, play cards, listen to the village band and reminisce about their loved ones. Tradition keeps the village close. Day of the Dead is becoming very popular in the U.S.~ perhaps because we don’t have a way to celebrate and honor our dead, or maybe it’s because of our fascination with it’s mysticism.

Musical Day of the DeadNuestra Senora de la Santa MuerteA very special time in Chapala is the bigger than life size Catrina’s all along the malecon (boardwalk).  They are generally produced by local organizations, schools, and charities.  Sometimes with a theme..The wedding Catrina to the left is made entirely from trash bags!  A sight to behold!!  And the streets along Francisco Madero are lined with alters celebrating the lives of loved ones and Mexican dignities.

Always remember:

Treat the spirits with respect and speak well of them always. While it’s a celebration, it’s not Halloween and it’s a festival about respect.

Día_de_los_Muertos_San_Francisco_2014_Dijon - 02Paint your face. Join in the festivities and surrender your face to be painted by one of the local artists.

Tour a graveyard. Altars are an important part of the festivities and cemetery tours are a good way to visit the atmospheric altars.  However, be very respectful of family celebrations.  Ask to take photos and ask questions.

The best collection of Day of the Dead memorabilia can be found at Diane Pearl Collections, the premiere gift shop in all of Lakeside!

Her collection of beautiful Catrinas are amazing and must be seen to be beleived!

diane catrinasDid you know?

Catrinas are made all over Mexico. They were originally inspired by the famous “La Calavera Catrina” etching by Jose Guadalupe Posada, which depicted a very well dressed woman at the turn of the century as a skeleton. However, the Catrina was made popular by a Diego Rivera mural.

Since then, Catrina has come to symbolize not only El Día de los Muertos but also the Mexican willingness to laugh at death itself.

diane catrinas2We have an amazing and, we think, the most complete and impressive collection of Catrinas in all of Mexico! From 4 inches to 4 feet in every imaginable attire.

From funny to scary, ugly to beautiful, large and small alike, perusing our huge selection is an experience all its own. Ask any of our staff to get one out for you and tell you about its meaning and about the artist who created it.

diane catrinass 3


The Magic of Lake Chapala

By Kristina Morgan Focus on Mexico

magic of lcLake Chapala is Mexico’s largest lake nestled in a ring of mountains with colorful fishing villages strung like pearls along the north shore where a slower pace of life awaits you. If you want to leave the rat race behind for a time or forever, Lake Chapala warrants a closer look, with friendly people to welcome you, many say the magic of Lake Chapala is something you just have to experience to believe.

Lake Chapala doesn’t have the desert or the hot, humid weather of common tourist areas. Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city, is less than an hour with all the amenities you could hope for with world-class shopping and cultural arts. With its semi-tropical climate, Lake Chapala is a land that is every awakening. Situated in the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountains of South Western Mexico, it is located in a valley with an elevation of over 5,000 feet above sea level. The protective mountains create a micro-climate that averages 75F or 24C year round. According to National Geographic, Lake Chapala has the second best climate in the world. Like the fabled Camelot, even when the cooling rains come from June to September, it almost always rains at night. In the morning, the sunshine is back and the humidity is just high enough to keep the brightly colored flowers blooming and turn the mountains a lush, tropical green. Color is everywhere. Flowers draped from balconies, hanging baskets, fences, borders and trees.

international living magThis is truly a cosmopolitan community where everyone is welcome. International Living Magazine has ranked Mexico as the number one place to retire in the world for the past two years in a row. More people than ever are opting to live outside their home countries to take advantage of the lower cost of living. On average, you can save 30% living here. There is world class health care at a fraction of the cost you’ll find north of the border.

Frequently called the “Chapala Riviera” with its cobblestone streets, flowering trees, lush mountains, tranquil lifestyle, low cost of living, Lake Chapala has become a popular destination for visitors, who then fall in love with the pace and the people and make this their home.

In the 1960’s, hippies and artists discovered Lake Chapala. This created an eclectic blend of art and personality which, of course, attracted more artists and has turned Lakeside into a flourishing artists community, home to dozens of galleries and craftsman of every kind, an attraction that continues to beckon today as is evidenced by the whimsy and color at Lake Chapala.

You’ll also see some delightful forms of transportation such as donkeys and horses. Along with that, is the safety they feel in the village streets and sidewalks, day and night.

ajijic streetEnglish is spoke everywhere. Wireless internet access and Vonage service is inexpensive and people can email or call their families back home. There are many recreational activities – tennis, golf, horseback riding, boating, fishing, biking, hiking. Plus there are so many English language clubs and charitable organizations, that no one could ever be lonely or bored. Mexico has been called the land of fiestas. There are 5,000 registered fiestas in Mexico and festivals are always great fun and feasts for the senses. With all the dancing, food, music, drinking and wonderful sights, culture is expressed through these fiestas and celebrations all year round.

margaritaThe services are world-class – cozy B&Bs, gracious 5-star hotels and bungalows – you’ll find the perfect place to feel at home. There are a wealth of restaurants ranging from Italian, Greek, Argentinian, Chinese, Thai and of course the best margaritas in the world. There are movies in English at the local cinema, English TV, water park and a community theater with plays performed in English. There are places to worship in every Christian denominations. If you are looking for a home with a village-pace of life, you’ll find exactly what you want – condos with concierge services, charming homes with stonework, handpainted tile, beamed ceilings and outdoor living.