Artist: Teodor Lopez

Perhaps nowhere else in the Spanish-speaking world has the guitar become such an inseparable part of the culture as in Mexico.

Inside the Galeria del Lago

Here the instrument appears the varying shapes, sizes, and sounds which can be most often seen in the instrumentation of Jalisco’s celebrated mariachi bands.


At Ajijic’s Galeria de Lago on the very edge of Lake Chapala the instrument appears in yet a new incarnation:  Guitar Art.

Artist: V. Manuel G. Santillan


It all began when local artist Kim Tolleson made a pilgrimage to the town of Paracho in Michoacan.  The town has long been famous as the center of guitar-making in Mexico, but in the past generation it has produced world class maestro craftsmen and instruments sought by aficionados everywhere.


There are more guitar shops in Paracho than chocolatiers in Switzerland and each August the town hosts a festival that features and honors both musicians and luthiers.


Kim had the idea that these instruments would make an interesting painter’s palette, but soon came to the conclusion that the 30 guitars that he brought back from Paracho was ambition enough for more than a single painter.

Artist: Kathy Seaboyer


He enlisted the aid of local artists and aspirants, and soon much of the space he’d first envisioned as no more than a studio became a guitar art gallery.

Artist: Sergio Xoñu



Kim’s decision to open entries to virtually all comers made the gallery unique not only for its use of guitars as painters’ palettes, but for its diversity of styles.




The artists range from local professionals including Efren Gonzalez to some very talented amateurs.

The inclusiveness is refreshing and the artist community has clearly embraced the concept.

Artist: Judy Dykstra Brown

The images range from scenes of colonial Mexico to rock music tributes. Most are painted, but one of the more striking pieces is installed as a sculpture standing on human legs.

Artists: Daniel Palma & Sergio Xoñu

Artists: Hugo & Carlos Villalabos

Part of the Galeria remains a working studio.

On the day I was there Emily Allen had set up her easel there to catch the light flooding in from off the lake, and I stood for a while with my face pressed against the window watching her work.

Artists: Hugo & Carlos Villalabos


Even though the regular gallery hours are Saturday/Sunday, 1-6PM, visitors can browse on many weekdays when the artists are in residence, and the work is readily viewed through big picture windows at any time of the day.

Artist: Jesus Lopez Vega


Galeria del Lago is located right on the lakefront between the Old Posada and Yves Restaurant, within eyesight of the Ajijic Pier.


No surprise, then, that the subject of many currently featured paintings is the white donkey that seems perennially tethered just a few yards away on the beach.


Galeria del Lago

Galeria del Lago



Photos don’t do the work justice, so drop by and see the real deal. It’s guaranteed to bring a smile to your lips!

You can also see photos of work no longer on display when I visited on the gallery’s Facebook page               


Read more about Paracho, Mexico’s guitar capital, here.                              

For more on Ajijic’s unique character see my related posts: