Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Belva and Enrique Veláquez: 26 years of calendars, continuity, and community

1994 Calendar
Artists Belva and Enrique Velázquez moved here from Guadalajara in 1989. While Enrique studied art in Guadalajara, Belva studied art in Colorado. She loves calendars, remarking that, because the weather here is so consistent, “They remind me of what month we’re in." When she went looking for a calendar, she couldn’t find one, so she rounded up some of Enrique’s pen and ink drawings and designed a calendar for 1994.

That first calendar had its issues. It was delivered as a stack of individual sheets, uncollated, unbound.  Belva collated, stapled and drilled the hanging holes in each of the 1,000 calendars she had ordered.  She even did all the caligraphy.
After listening to their many customers requests, in 2000 she designed a color calendar and began to do half of the images herself. The calendars capture the quiet beauty and every day life of the Lake Chapala area. They also list Mexico, US, and Canadian holidays, Jewish holidays and the new and full-moon.
2019 Calendar: Cajititlan

Flipping through my newly-purchased calendar for 2019, I was struck by the fact that it is a 13-month calendar. Belva’s explanation was even more striking and shows the depth of care for their customers. “From the beginning, we printed on good paper and designed the calendar with the idea that some people might want to frame the images. We always put the most popular image on the front of the calendar, but that’s always where all the words about the calendar are, so it can’t really be framed. So, we added the thirteen month and repeated the cover image so it can be framed.”

Enrique and Belva are busy, productive artists, who raised three children here and also survived the 1995 Peso Crisis, when the government suddenly devalued the peso resulting in a period of hyperinflation that reached 52%. (1) 

The continuity of producing a calendar every year for 26 years is an event to be celebrated … and they will do that with an open studio on October 5-6 from 4 to 8. In addition to food, fun and live music, they will be displaying all 26 years of the calendar. Come browse through the history of Ajijic.

It’s fascinating to talk with people who have been here  for many years. They remember things such as … when there were no stop lights … when there was only one artist studio in the village. When I asked Belva what change in their almost 30 years here has been most important to her, she said it was the art community that has developed here. “When we first arrived, there was one place to eat, one place to spend the night, one art gallery.” 
Now, we often take for granted the abundance of art, restaurants, and cultural opportunities that joins with the great beauty here to make this such a wonderful place to live.

Open Gallery
October 5 and 6, 4 pm to 8 pm.
16 de Septiembre, #7, Ajijic 
The Veláquez gallery
  1. Wikipedia: Mexican Peso Crisis

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