Visit to the Casa de las Ranas [The House of Frogs] and the Chapel of Jimmy Ray Gallery

 

Jo Farb Hernández

 

During a quick spring break visit to Mexico, I was delighted, as always, by the wealth of unselfconscious and colorful aesthetic expressions I found virtually every time I turned my head. From the front perimeter wall of an auto parts warehouse in Mexico City - 

 

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to an itinerant seller of brooms, mops, and hammocks in San Miguel de Allende - 

 

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there is color and texture and movement everywhere. 

But the main attraction was the opportunity to visit Anado McLauchlin’s Casa de las Ranas [The Frog House] / Chapel of Jimmy Ray Gallery in the little village of La Cieneguita. McLauchlin and his husband Richard Schultz visited this relatively remote 2.5-acre site in 2001, and purchased it within two weeks – although their original idea had been to rent in the area for a year to see if they might like to live in Mexico on a long-term basis. Renovating the dilapidated two-story home that had been built in the form of a Swiss chalet, McLauchlin began what has become an ongoing work-in-progress, as little by little he is transforming the entire property into a complex and intriguing art environment.

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Exterior wall, Casa de las Ranas

Reflecting his decades of travels around the world, his aesthetic expressions riff off of motifs from native and tribal arts from around the world in a unique and idiosyncratic way: the Hindu deity Ganesh, for example, has taken on decidedly Mexican characteristics. Combining local Talavera tile with pieces of glass, mirrors, shells, found objects, paper cut-outs, local festival props, and crafts, all set against deeply saturated painted backgrounds, the site features several buildings as well as whimsical freestanding altars, mosaic stairways, a completely ornamented outhouse with compostable toilet, gardens, and a 150-meter (almost 500 feet) long wall sheathed in a variety of improvised images from McLauchlin’s dreams and visual encounters. 

 

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McLauchlin with his outhouse with compostable toilet

 Exterior Walkway

Exterior Walkway

 

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Interior of the Chapel of Jimmy Ray Gallery

 

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Kismet Street (detail)

 

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Kismet Street (detail)

 

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Home interior (detail)

 

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Studio (detail)

 

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Jo Farb Hernández interviewing McLauchlin. Photo: Thomas K. Seligman

 

The entire complex is a thoughtful and compelling site that warrants a visit, and with a requested donation McLauchlin offers public tours three times weekly. McLauchlin and Schultz are warm and welcoming, and I encourage you all to visit on your next trip across our southern border!

 

Read Anado McLauchlin's story and see more images here!

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Anado McLauchlin, April 3, 2019

 Unless otherwise indicated all photos © Jo Farb Hernández 

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