Nancy Robins talks about her late husband, the beloved Michel Robbins of Ajijic
Photo: Nancy Robbins with hers and Michaels instruments.
Patrick O’Heffernan (Ajijic).- Nancy Robbins settled back into a leather couch in her apartment cluttered with vinyl albums, music awards, a big screen computer and indigenous art to talk about her late husband, the American-born, Northern Indian musician beloved in Lakeside, Michael Robbins. The conversation was ebullient, like Nancy, full of smiles, laughter, and funny stories.
“He led such a fascinating, dynamic life and taught and helped so many people ‘I have to celebrate him’”, Nancy said, “he always lived the highest values in morals, in art, in intellect, and in athletics, so of course I celebrate him”.
Michael and Nancy Robbins have been fixtures in Ajijic and the Lakeside music scene for decades, training other musicians, running a popular Indian restaurant on the Ajijic Plaza, organizing performances and just plain helping people. They started coming to lakeside in 1992, and were married in Chapala. But Michael’s story starts 60 years earlier in Los Angeles where he was born in LA, the son of a movie theater manager. “Of course Michael went to the moves for free, but it was gymnastics that captured his heart”, Nancy explains. His father, who was his inspiration, died when he was thirteen and he felt he had to do something to live up to his father’s expectations. That something was gymnastics.
“Michael had a decision to make: he would come from the Boy Scouts, put on his band uniform and play, and then change into spots clothes for gymnastics – he had to choose one so he chose gymnastics”, Nancy said, almost as if she was there. It was a good choice; he was All City Champion and then went on to win a national championship and a full scholarship to UC Berkeley, where he met his first wife, Mary Lawrence, who left him after a year of marriage.
“They parted ways because they were quite different. He was an athlete; he didn’t drank or smoke or hang out and party. So after they parted he came down to Mexico in 1961,” Nancy said, describing the beginning of his love affair with Mexico. “He became a painter and a professor at Lake College in Mexico City. I met him 13 years later when I was babysitting for his ex-wife in San Francisco”.
While she was babysitting, a friend of Michael’s brought some tapes of his music back from India and Nancy listened to them over and over. When Michael returned, she peppered him with questions about the music. “I had all kinds of questions and what is more attractive to a man than a women interested in his subject, whether it is cars, football or Indian music? And I can cook,” she said with a laugh, “I was 24 and he was 37, but how many times in a lifetime do you get a chance to be with someone of that caliber, so I grabbed hold of the guy and would not let go!.” They were together for 45 years.
Michael Robbins went to India to study classical Northern Indian music, an artistic tradition that goes back over 2500 years. Originally music of the royal courts, instruction in tablas, sarod, harmonium, sitar and the music they played was passed down from father to son or nephew by a few elite teachers who allowed no deviation from tradition. (women now play the sarod and the tablas). Michael learned from some of the most famous, and most strict of the teachers, becoming a disciple of Pandit Radhika Mohan Moitra in the Sarod, and Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh in Tabla. Nancy explained he started in Calcutta with a teacher who was too busy for him, but noticed he could play real music and gave him a break.
Michael would play the classical recorder while others played the tabla or sitar and his teacher said “You can actually play something – these other guys are just playing scales – come on, I will take you to a teacher”, and took him to Radhika Mohan Moitra, who took him. He went on to become not only a student, but a force that help reinvigorate the music.
After returning from India, Michael founded the Sarodya Society in the 90’s to promote the awareness of sarod and tabla and train other musicians. He continued that tradition in Lakeside training many Mexican and gringo musicians in Hindustani classical music. His students include some of Lakeside’s most popular and talented musicians like Juan Castañón Acasia, Angel Madrigal, Alvaro Rubio, Alvaro Rubio and others.
But the move to Lakeside was slow and careful –process that began in 1992 and ended in 2000 when they finally moved everything to lakeside and became residents. Once in Lakeside, the quickly developed a strong music community, not only through teaching but through the Indian restaurant they opened on the Ajijic Plaza, that served as a venue and gathering place.
“I had learned Indian cooking we wanted a venue here, so when I saw the For Rent sign on the Plaza and said to Michael I wonder how much they want for that, he said go for it,” and I did. They ran the restaurant for almost seven years. “It was fun and I met so many nice people. The restaurant was a way for people to come to use, instead of us going to them. I thoroughly enjoyed it,” she says.
During their time in lakeside, Nancy cooked and played music, ran the restaurant and “all the other things wives do”, while Michael played and taught, creating a community and training so many of the musicians that entertain Lakeside residents today.
Michael died last week of congestive heart failure brought on by a 50-year old liver problem. But even in talking about his death, Nancy was upbeat. “We didn’t go to the Plaza for about 4 months and then eventually he was in bed for the last two days. I held his hand and he asked me to roll him over and I did and propped him up and that was the way I found him. I thought he was sleeping until the dog jumped on the bed and licked his foot and he didn’t complain, so I knew he was dead.”
The City Council of San Juan Cosalá denies rumors of Corona cases
Miguel Cerna. – Rafael Gómez Rodríguez, Director of the Municipal Medical Services of Jocotepec denied that positive case of Coronavirus (Covid-19) were diagnosed in the city of San Juan Cosala. The City Council echoed Rodriguez and noted that four suspicious cases have been identified but the Jalisco Health Secretariat will determine their status.
Rodrigues and the Council are responding to an audio file that is circulating through social networks in which an alleged employee of the Green Cross reports the presence of a confirmed case of Covid-19. The audio file has created a sense of fear in people in Jocotepec who have heard it, and the Council wants them to know this file is false and there are no confirmed cases in Jocotepec.
Some of the rumors may be a misunderstanding of a study done in the city and reported by the Municipal President José Miguel Gómez López. The study found that, although so far Jocotepec does not have a positive case, a few people were found with similar symptoms.
“At this time, there are four cases of people who have similar symptoms to those who carry this virus, “ he said, adding that, “those four people are already isolated, their blood has been drawn and they being tested within the protocols of Ministry of Health to determine if they have the virus. ”
The result of the test will be reported when the municipal authorities report the results of the tests and other information regarding the virus. In the meantime, Gómez López is asking the town’s citizens not to be alarmed but to take care to abide by the safety recommendations, such as staying home and recurrently washing their hands.
(translation by Patrick OHeffernan)
Are Expats fleeing Lakeside because of Coronavirus? We talk with the Executive Director of Lake Chapala Society
Steve Balfour, Executive Director of the Lake Chapala Society.
Patrick O’Heffernan(Ajijic).- Have you noticed fewer people at Superlake, in your Spanish Class, or posting on some of the Lakeside and Ajijic Facebook groups? Many have noticed and are speculating that Expats are leaving Lakeside to get back to their families and homes in the US and Canada because of the Coronavirus. But there are no statistics of the number of Expats leaving, or even of the number of Expats in Lakeside (estimates run from 8,000 to 15,000 and it depends on the time of year). Steve Balfour, Executive Director of the Lake Chapala Society, Ajijic’s hub of Expat activity, had some thoughts about the response to Coronavirus and Expats in Lakeside.
“The first thing we have done is close or postpone all of our activities and events, such as the Blues Festival, Open Circle and others. We intend to resume them when it is appropriate to do so. In the meantime we are keeping the grounds open, but activities are closed,” he said. Balfour added that the staff are working to scrub down and disinfect the campus. He wants to keep the small staff of LCS employed, even if it is in cleaning and maintenance. The Café is not run by the LCS, but rents space and will make its own decision.
Takeout orders. Call: 33-22-30-15-69. We are located in San Antonio Tlayacapan.
When asked about Expats leaving, he responded that he understands from many of LCS’s Canadian members that “the Canadian government has put out a notice that Canadians who want continued access to their health care need to come home now”. Since the US and Canada have agreed to a border closure with exceptions, many Canadian Expats feel they must leave now or not be able to return to Canada for some time. Balfour said that he has seen that a lot of Expats are leaving, but many are not, telling him that this is their home now.
“There are no right answers”, he said about the question of leaving or staying. “This is something totally new, a once in a lifetime experience, so there is no right answer – people have to make their choices for themselves.”
Balfour said there are currently a little over 2700 members of LCS, but that number is deceiving because people come in and out and some are permanent and some are temporary. “If you look at the memberships over 2019 –people who were a member for any length of time– it is closer to 4000,” he said. But he added there is no way to tell what percentage of the current membership or the 2019 membership has left Mexico.
“One of the challenges is that there are so many seasonal Expats who come in between November and April, increasing the population,” he said, “and a lot of these people would have left now anyway or just moved up their departure by a week or two”. He added that before this week he did not see a slowdown in activities or ticket purchasing by LCS members, so if there was an exodus of members it did show up in participation.
He pointed out that most of the LCS income is from bus trips and activity fees, which are suspended, so LCS has to run on a very reduced budget and does not have staff or funds to do research or surveys. He added that this is a great time for people to make their annual contribution or renew their memberships to help with the reduced cash flow.
What will Coronavirus do to the vibrant music and restaurant scene in Lakeside? We ask Ray Domenech
Ray Domenech interview by Semanario Laguna’s Patrick O’Heffernan.
Patrick O’Heffernan. (Ajijic).- Restaurants and bars and music venues are closing down throughout Jalisco, including those in Lakeside. Early casualties included the Spotlight Club in San Antonio de Tlayacapan and the Lake Chapala Society’s Blues Festival, which has been postponed along with Chapala’s International Folklor Exhibition planned for April.
While experts say cases ware rising in Mexico, Mexico and Jalisco are far from “hotspots” compared to the US, but the danger is real and participation in the Lakeside music and dining scene started falling sharply last week. Ray Domenech’s Ray Velvet Productions brought the saxophone player Derek Brown to the Auditorio and, although the audience was good, 85 people called and cancelled because they were afraid to go to a public concert. Other venues report a softening of audiences overall and now many are closed.
To get a better understanding of the impact of the virus on Lakesides music and dining scene, we asked Domenech what he saw as the future of music and dining in Lakeside if the Coronavirus continues to rise in Mexico and especially Jalisco and Lakeside. Here is our interview edited for space:
Semanario Laguna: You promoted a concert last with saxophonist Derek Brown. Your audience was good, but you lost some people, What happened?
Ray Domenech: Yes, there were a lot of cancellations. People said they were uncomfortable, it is a big venue, coronavirus is going on. And I understood. But most paid for the tickets. My main concern was the artist-audience communication, and that was still good.
Semanario Laguna: Did you have other shows planned for the Auditorio, which was going to be open until July when remodeling started?
Ray Domenech: Yes. I was planning on doing another dance show at the end of April, and I had some other shows I wanted to do after that, but that won’t happen now.
Semanario Laguna: Have you talked with the owners of other venues and music restaurants to see if their business has been falling?
Ray Domenech: Yes, for sure it is down. There is a little fear surrounding the virus. Also there are a lot of Canadians who are going home because of health care – they have a different system. I have not talked with some of the big place’s like Adelita’s or El Barco but the Spotlight has closed down.
Semanario Laguna: Have you been talking to other restaurant owners? Is business down? Are there plans for changes.
Ray Domenech: Yes, business is down. There is a group of restaurant owners who are thinking of selling certificates that you can buy now and redeem after the virus. That could keep many of us going for two or three weeks. Some shifting to doing delivery or take-out.
Semanario Laguna: What are your plans?
Ray Domenech: We are all looking for what is a good for our customers and good for security, My plan is reduce days we are open, do take-out, probably not delivery. The market will be more complicated. We might take out a few tables although we are very small, reduce music nights or just have friends come in and jam. We want to stay open as long as we can or the government tells us to close down.
Semanario Laguna: Hopefully, that won’t happen. There are very few cases in Mexico and very few in Jalisco. If the government does tell you to close, you mentioned other ways of getting music out, like online concerts.
Ray Domenech: We are planning on doing one concert a week and broadcasting it. I know many friends who are going back to the states and they can keep up with their favorite lakeside bands.
Semanario Laguna: You could create a new market.
Ray Domenech: Maybe in the long term, it would be a nice way to go. The musicians will get more attention. Derek Brown told me he was so very impressed with the quality of the music here in Ajijic and the band that he played with.
Semanario Laguna: Is there a possibility for two or three families and their favorite artist. They would provide social distance.
Ray Domenech: That would be wonderful. I have thought about that. We need to look at the numbers and the cost, but yes, I would like to do it.
Semanario Laguna: How would take-out work for you? Delivery?
Ray Domenech: Delivery is very difficult for us, but for people to order and pick it up here and even bring their own containers, it is a great option.
Domenech is launching the first online concert in a ‘Hoping for the Best Tour” Rezzonante Jazz Series Friday, March 20 at 6 pm on FacebookLive. Information at https://www.facebook.com/domenechrestaurant/)
Desfiles -parades- in Mexican history, culture and life
Patrick O’Heffernan (Ajijic).- Everyone loves a parade, and it seems that applies double to Mexico because there are so many of them. Actually many other countries have as many or more parades than Mexico and some have bigger parades, like the 12- kilometer-long Hanover Schützenfest that takes place in Hanover every year. But, if you live in Mexico it seems like there are parades for everything. There are, and there are reasons for that. Parades are embedded in Mexico’s history and Napoleon had something to do with it.
The first parade in the independent country of Mexico was on September 27, 1821 in front of Agustín de Iturbide and his Trigarante Army. That tradition continued as a way to celebrate Mexico’s freedom and strength, although years later Porfirio Díaz changed the date to what is now known as the Commemorative Military Parade on September 16, which was inaugurated in 1910 by a parade of 5000 soldiers marching to cheering crowds. Since then, military parades are held in Mexico City every year, some of which last approximately four to six hours and feature about 25 thousand people plus horses, military equipment and bands.
That first parade was modeled on the parades staged by Napoleon III, who believed that parades were the best propaganda tools at his disposal. He knew parades can be used to honor the living and the dead, show off the training of the troops, display the power of the civil and military authorities, intimidate foreign powers, and provide people with entertainment at the same time. This tradition has fixed parades in Mexican life but parades have spread far beyond historical dates and patriotic celebrations. Today even patriotic parades feature participation by schools, athletes, floats, charros, dancers, and unions and in many cases military groups are no longer included.
Today parades in Mexico celebrate religious holidays, civic holidays, and just plain occasions for fun. Religious-themed parades, especially the Passion of Christ, are major religious events, as is Carnavál, the Fat Tuesday blowout before the beginning of Lent.
One of the most celebrated and most colorful parades in Mexico is the Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City. Last year there were actually two parades, one on October 27 and the main parade on the Grand Day of the Parade, November 2, which drew 2 million people and 10 million TV viewers to see its giant puppets, dozens floats, costumed dancers and bands. The Grand Parade was so large last year – 6 kilometers long – that it was divided into four thematic segments which were linked together in a narrative called “A gift of songs and flowers from Mexico to the world.”
In towns and villages throughout Mexico, Easter Week is the scene of religious parades, or processions. Via Crucis is one of the most important procession throughout Mexico and takes place in Ajijic in the afternoon of Good Friday, winding through the town streets after the trial of Jesus in the atrium of Church San Andrés. On Palm Sunday, towns and villages cover streets with alfalfa or hay for huge Palm Sunday processions featuring hundreds or thousands of people carrying palm fronds, statues of Christ on a donkey hoisted on men’s shoulders, and priests, bishops and worshipers in robes. In Ajijic, Hidalgo Street is covered with fresh alfalfa from the church to Seís Esquinas for the Pam Sunday procession in the evening.
Locally in Lakeside, other religious processions include the Virgin of Zapopan in July in Chapala, the Day of the Charro parade in September, the feasts of the patronesses of the Lakeside towns in September and October which include Aztec dancer processions, the Feast of the Virgin of the Rosary in Ajijic in September, Revolution Day in November, Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe in December, and other smaller parades and processions based in specific neighborhoods. There are also spontaneous or unofficial parades, especially around The Day of the Dead, like the Catrina Parade in Ajijic by local horsewomen.
An important aspect of the parades in Mexican life is that they are not events staged for tourists, although tourists often flock to them. But in reality, they have serious historical, political and religious meaning. Some are sponsored by businesses which have floats in the parades, but the objective is to commemorate an occasion or a saint or a hero, not to entertain visitors. However, they teach much to visitors about the history and priorities of the Mexican people and as such are a entertaining ways to learn about Mexican culture.
Ex-pat debate on the Cyclopista Project
Patrick O’Heffernan (Ajijic).- I am a cyclist, or at least I was until I moved to Ajijic last year. I was in bike clubs in Northern and Southern California and rode 25 – 40 miles every weekend. We were always on paved roads, sometimes in Point Reyes National Seashore or Mount Tamalpais State Park, and often along the LA beaches. Fun rides, although the hills were pretty rough.
But not as rough as cobblestones. So, when the cyclopista project started I thought: “Great, something I had wanted in LA for years. Hooray for Chapala for getting ahead of the curve”. I should have remembered my three things to take to Mexico – patience, flexibility, and a sense of humor.
Before buying a new bike, I decided to get a sense of what the bicycling community and the general Ex-pat community think about the cyclopista project with a survey of online posts and informal conversations. The results are decidedly mixed. Many say it has depressed business, others say it is making the Carretera more dangerous. People complained about narrowed lanes and that there are now no breakdown lanes heading West. What will we do in case of an emergency on the West-bound lanes of the Carretera? At least two drivers have shown us – the went over the new concrete barriers.
One post referred to the small businesses along Hidalgo in Chapala, quoting an owner who has lost 80% of her business to the project. The impact of the combined paving and cyclopista project on the hospital in Ajijic has also been mentioned – is it open for emergencies? Can ambulances even get to it, people asked?
In general, many Ex-pats praise the administration for undertaking a significant improvement for bike safety and an effort to reduce traffic, but they also blame it for beginning the project without proper planning, consultation with the communities affected, and without a plan to alleviate the danger and impact on business during construction. They also fault the administration for not supervising the project so that mistakes -like tearing out improperly positioned concrete and the current mysterious jackhammering of the already smooth surface of the cyclopista in La Floresta– routinely happen. People also grumbled that street lights are not going in as the barriers are installed so drivers have to drive in the dark.
So, a lot of people are unhappy. Is anyone happy?
Well yes. Cyclists in general feel that providing a smooth, protected lane will and is already giving riders a break from the bike-oblivious driving all around us, not to mention the cobblestones. Many in the bike community worry though, that without enforcement of laws protecting them, the cyclopista will be a marginal safety improvement or a disaster waiting to happen, as one rider put it, because cars routinely cut across it, buses use it to stop, motorbikes and ATVs treat it like a race track. Others point out that if the cyclopista is actually finished and the safety problems ironed out, it should increase bike use in Lakeside and hopefully reduce car traffic on the Carretera. Most posts are not optimistic that the project will be completed as planned and that there will be any bike safety enforcement.
However, at least one Ex-pat cyclist is very happy to see the cyclopista and posted, “Kudos to the organization &/or persons responsible for the significant bike safety upgrade along the Cyclopista from its start just east of the Hole-in-one/Sunshine Restaurant and …. towards the Libermiento.” The post goes on to say that maybe the cyclopista can interrupt the free-drive- zone of people trying to turn right on to the Libramiento with other cars coming and going from Walmart and the parking lot. That would be an accomplishment!
So, the Ex-pat and some of the Mexican community is frustrated by the cyclopista project, skeptical that it will be completed as planned and that laws protecting cyclists will be enforced, but happy there is some political willingness to reduce traffic and increase safety. Whether or not the cyclopista will accomplish these goals is certainly being debated.
My Fair Lady opens this Friday at Lakeside Little Theater
Eliza Doolittle and the ensemble in My Fair Lady at the LLT.
Patrick O’Heffernan (Ajijic).- Lerner and Lowe’s famed musical My Fair Lady opens Friday night, Feb. 21, 2020, at the Lakeside Little Theater and is already sold out. The run has been extended to March 4 to accommodate the demand for tickets.
Winner of Best Musical Award in 1957, it is a comedic romantic tale that illuminates class divisions in turn of the last century London and the cluelessness of the male ego. Directed by Dave McIntosh with music direction by Ann Swenson and choreography by Alexis Hoff and Mary Neill, it features a cast of three dozen dancers, singers and actors.
With sumptuous costumes and a set evocative of London in 1917, the LLT production stars Michala Swanson as Eliza Doolittle, Brian Fuqua as Henry Higgins, Rob Stupple as Alfred Doolittle, and Mark Heaton as Colonel Pickering. Presented with permission of Tams-Widmark, the production was generously underwritten by Jeff & Connie Pecsar. The Lakeside Little Theater is Mexico’s oldest English-language theater and has been in operation since 1965.
A self-sustaining, all-volunteer not-for-profit organization, it offers theatre arts to Lakeside residents at its recently renovated 122-seat facility in San Antonio Tlayacapan. Tickets available at the box office for the extended run as long as they last.
Renowned Mexican singer Jaramar in intimate house concert in Ajijic
Jaramar Soto created a magical night of 15 songs in a unique, intimate concert
Patrick O’Heffernan (Ajijic).- The renowned Mexican singer Jaramar Soto made a surprise appearance in Ajijic Friday night, at an intimate concert organized by singer-songwriter Yanin Saavedra at her home. Supported by her long-time accompanists Luis Javier Ochoa on guitar and Alejandro Fernández Figueroa on violin, the Latin Grammy-winning Jaramar treated the audience in Saavedra’s living room to 15 stunning songs, mostly composed by her.
Clad in a simple black lace dress, she swayed, sang, smiled and mesmerized the people on folding chairs only feet away from her with a voice that everyone in Jalisco knows and loves. From the mischievous “Máquina” to the soulful “Echar el Ancla”, she filled the house with music usually heard in grand theaters in Guadalajara, Mexico City or Los Angeles. In between songs, she told stories of the songs, her life, art and her dreams.
Jaramar, born in Mexico City but now based in Guadalajara. Is a singer, dancer, composer and visual artist who has recorded 15 solo albums, among them El hilo invisible (with el Cuarteto Latinoamericano, for which she won the 2016 Latin Grammy for Best Classical Music Album.
Her visit to Ajijic is the result of her friendship with Saavedra and her continuing desire to develop new projects and touch new audiences. Yanin Saavedra and her partner, bassist Gilberto Rios, produces a continuing series of intimate concerts bringing artists from around Mexico in genres, ranging from electric dream pop to folk to classical. Jaramar earlier appeared on the Ajijic-based radio program Music Sin Fronteras.
This weekend is the Studio Annual Art Walk in Ajijic
Redacción. – Each February, the Art Society of Ajijic offers an opportunity for local artists and craftspeople to let the public see and buy their work in a unique two-day event. Over the past eight years this event has grown beyond Ajijic and now includes surrounding towns. This weekend the Ajijic Society of the Arts’ 9th Annual Studio Art Walk will visit over 30 locations throughout Lakeside and art walkers will have the opportunity to meet close to 100 artists in mixed media, oils, acrylics, photography, sculpture, jewelry, handicrafts and more.
Some artists in the Art Walk will be displaying their work in their own studios, while others will be hosted by other artists, art collectors in their homes, or business such as restaurants, with some locations featuring several artists. A full-color. 50-peso catalogue of the artists serves as the ticket to Art Walk. The catalogue also includes a map of the Art Walk locations and photos of art on display. The Art Walk takes place Saturday, Feb. 22 and Sunday Feb 23 and runs from 10 am to 4 pm each day.
Funds raised will go to support the Lake Chapala Society’s (LCS) Children’s Art Program founded in 1954 by Neill James. The Program has helped thousands of Mexican children explore their creative talents and has produced many well-known local artists and has helped position Ajijic as a center for art. The legacy of this program can be seen in the lives and paintings of its many famous graduates whose murals now adorn public buildings and beautify villages in the area.
ASA Art Walk Catalogues are available at the Lake Chapala Society, the Art Connection in Centro Laguna Mall, Superlake Market, Diane Pearl Colecciones, Ken Gosh Galleries and the LCS Café.
ARTIST OF THE WEEK
Patrick O’Heffernan (Ajijic).- The former Director General de Actividades of the Secretaría de Cultura of Jalisco, Santiago Baeza has a broad knowledge of art in Mexico and other parts of the world and it’s interplay with government, society and economics. He is a renowned abstract artist whose works are shown in New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Guadalajara and other major cities.
His sculptures reflect the urban nature of abstract art-simple, minimalist, honest. They range from small table-top objects to installations large enough to stand in (he encourages it). They interweave empty space with strong shapes and undulating forms, sometimes leading the eye in circles, sometimes deeper into the piece and sometimes out of it to turn around and see it from a different perspective. Walking through his outdoor studio, strewn with his children’s toys as well as with sculptures in various stages of construction for a major show later this year, he tells how his role in the government and politics and culture of Mexico has contributed to his focus on abstract art. “I love abstract art because it liberates me from the politics –I make art for the people to enjoy. When I do art, I give the people the opportunity to get out of this sick society, to leave the political behind”, he says thinking about the role of art in Mexico. While his forms are abstract and flow from a history of abstract art in Mexico that pre-dates the Spanish, he prefers that the viewer has to bring a personal meaning to each piece. ”All art has to tell a story, but my case is different; I have always separated my politics and my art. When I am working on a piece of art, it is mine, but when I finish it, it doesn’t belong to me.” This spirit carries over to his emphasis on art that is for people, not government commissioned. “Artists have to live from the market, and not from the government”, he says. It also contributes to his disdain for titles on his art. “I hate putting titles to my art. It is very difficult – I don’t like to box people in… I want the piece and the people to have that liberty.”
People in Ajijic can follow Santiago Baeza on Facebook, to find out when his new show will go up in Guadalajara and other cities.