Two extraordinary photography shows being displayed concurrently this month showcase works by of the late John Frost, a prolific artist and long-time resident of Jocotepec.
The first exhibit opened Sunday, January 14 at Jocotepec’s Casa de La Cultura, set a few steps from the town plaza. The show comprises 93 large format black-and-white prints depicting life in Frost’s adopted hometown and the surrounding countryside. The images show scenes of traditional festivities, typical agricultural activity, and local people engaged in ordinary daily pursuits.
A complementary show opens Friday, January 19, 6:30 p.m., in the upstairs gallery at Chapala’s Centro Cultural Antigua Presidencia, located on Avenida Madero at the corner of Hidalgo. The exhibit features 74 original prints and reproductions of various sizes, some captured in black and white and others in color. The images represent the full scope of Frost’s body of work.
Together the two exhibits provide a window on earlier times in the lakeshore region and western Mexico, showing Frost’s keen eye for focusing on landscapes, architecture and lifestyles.
The collections were put together by Frost’s son John Burdett Frost, in keeping with the promise he made four years ago to preserve his father’s life work and legacy. The project entailed long months of sorting through thousands of prints and negatives accumulated over 50 years by the talented artist behind the lens.
The effort was accomplished with the aid of Carlos Cuevas, Jocotepec’s director of culture, and his assistant Diana Medina who lent moral support and helped the younger Frost obtain a grant from Jalisco’s Ministry of Culture. The state agency has also pledged additional funding for the publication of a book honoring the outstanding photographer.
Frost was born in Pasadena, California in 1923, the son of John Frost Sr., an, accomplished impressionist landscape painter, and grandson of the acclaimed illustrator Arthur Burdett (A.B.) Frost. He took a deep interest in art and photography as a teenager. After serving in the military during World War II, he went on to earn a degree in graphic art. By the 1950s he had launched a professional career in artistic and commercial photography.
In 1964 Frost married fellow Californian Joan Van Every. The coupled moved to Mexico in 1966, putting down permanent roots in Jocotepec the following year, shortly before the birth of their only child.
The family settled down in a typical village house where Frost set up a studio to create paintings and silk screen prints and a darkroom for processing his photos. Generous by nature, he shared his wealth of knowledge and abilities by mentoring fellow expat artists and locals seeking to master silk screen and photographic techniques.
Eventually, Frost dedicated his creative energy entirely to photography. In the late 1970s he began branching out to earn his bread and butter as a specialist in aerial photography. He is recognized as a pioneer in that field, skilled at capturing sweeping overhead images of Lake Chapala, Jalisco’s Costa Alegre, Colima’s twin volcanoes and tourist developments. His son recalls his father’s knack for using hand signals to guide airplane pilots to the ideal altitude for getting the best angles and lighting on his subject matter.
Frost’s wife is likewise remembered as a brilliant writer who became a regular contributor to this newspaper and successful author with six published novels to her credit. A champion of charitable causes, she founded Jocotepec’s Amigos de Salud which later morphed into Niños Incapacitados, and stood out as a driving force in the Mexico National Chili Cookoff over three decades.
Suffering from failing health, the Frosts returned to California in early 2012, residing there until Joan succumbed to cancer in June of that year and John’s passing three years later.