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Ajijic plaza facelift showcases wealth of local artistic talents

What was originally conceived as a lackluster government project to resurface the Ajijic plaza has morphed into a titanic community initiative for transforming the heart of the village into a public showcase for its talented artists and tradesmen.

“We found out that local government was planning to replace the worn out adoquin (granite setts) with new pavers,” says former town administrator and city councilmen Chuma Medina. “A few local people took interest in developing a more creative design, which in turn sparked a bolder idea for a full scale renovation that would reflect the town’s ancestral roots, natural surroundings and unique identity.”

City hall officials consented to the more ambitious project after artist Federico Enciso and contractor Marco Zaragoza came up with a preliminary blueprint and small scale model, with the caveat that the promoters cough for the extra expenses and labor it involved.

Enciso has designed and put his handiwork into laying the tile mosaic sunbursts that mark each corner of the plaza. A larger sun figure will emanate from the central bandstand, with a half dozen rays set around it at ground level formed with translucent onyx chips set in wrought iron frames that will be illuminated at night from below. Together the five sun images represent Ajijic’s original human settlements and the village barrios of today.

As more artists, craftsmen and young professionals were roped in to contribute their efforts at little or no cost, a host of new concepts emerged. The town’s most accomplished masons, carpenters, iron workers have come aboard, suggesting the use of a variety of materials and techniques they have mastered.

The metal roof of the kiosk will be replaced by a stained glass mural on historical themes, designed by Juan Navarro, Javier Ramos, Bruno Mariscal and Antion Cardenas and executed by Sergio Aimar. The mural will be set off by a mesquite wood stave and framed on the outside with a bronze frienze. The existing metal railing will be removed, melted down with junk park benches, and reshaped into segments of a sculpture of Lake Chapala’s aquatic birdlife.

Most of the surface tile work is made of volcanic rock. Other details are being fashioned from rare yellow cantera stone originating from a quarry in Degollado, Jalisco, one of the nation’s few remaining sources of that material.

Tomas Lopez is now demonstrating his masonry skills in the bas-relief sculptures of fish he is cutting out. The special mix of concrete and hand-picked chunks of white lime adds a decorative touch to the plaza’s southwest corner.

Medina says that about 80 percent of the city government’s part of the job has been completed. The rest of the project will proceed in stages as voluntary donations allow.

About 80 individuals have already chipped in 1,000 pesos a head to come in as project sponsors, but full funding needs are huge, according to financing committee head Velia Ramos.

Project leaders are throwing a dance party fundraiser on Saturday, April 28, 9 p.m., at the Serna Fiesta Salon located just west of the Ajijic cemetery. Guests will be treated to five hours of fun and live music of assorted genres for the 150 pesos person price of admission. Those attending will be allowed to enter with one bottle of liquor per table and snacks. Set-ups, beer and tequila and food may be purchased on site.

Medina promises there will be a strong security detail inside and outside the event. “We hope people will see this as an opportunity to unite and work together on bettering our town. It one way we can counteract the negative things that have been going on lately.”

Tickets are available at the Ajijic Delegacion office opposite the plaza or from Ramos, Cel, 331-313-8759.

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