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An interview with Anado McLauchlin and Jimmy Ray

The Chapel of Jimmy Ray

By Sheridan Sansegundo

The Chapel of Jimmy Ray, in all its shiny polychrome glory, its mosaics, stained glass, and incorporation of 20,000 glass bottles, is set to open. The Chapel is a gallery and exhibition space on the grounds of Casa de las Ranas, where the artist Anado McLauchlin and his partner, the art historian Richard Schultz, live in the village of La Cieneguita. Many years taking shape, it will have a festive inauguration on February 4.

Opening ceremony: The Chapel of Jimmy Ray. Sat, Feb 4, 1-5pm. La Cieneguita. For directions e-mail Visit

“It is an opportunity for people to see a less conventional side of San Miguel,” said McLauchlin, “and a chance to see art that is not so much experimental as provocative.”

His first show in the new gallery is called “Installed Poetry,” a reference to his past as a performance artist and poet in New York City. “It is assemblage work and pretty much a microcosm in relation to the macrocosm of the Chapel itself.”

The gallery will also open with an exhibition, “City Dwellers: Early Morning Portraits on the Streets of Mexico City,” by the world-famous artist photographer Spencer Tunick, who is famous for his photographs of groups of nude people in unexpected settings.

Tunick’s philosophy is that “individuals en masse, without their clothing, grouped together, metamorphose into a new shape. The bodies extend into and upon the landscape like a substance. These grouped masses which do not underscore sexuality become abstractions that challenge or reconfigure one’s views of nudity and privacy.”

Among his many unusual venues, he has worked at Grand Central Station, the Dead Sea, a Welsh lighthouse and with 18,000 naked people in Mexico City’s Zocalo.

Interviewed in his exotic Aladdin’s Cave of a living room, McLauchlin said, “Good art is dangerous. It is important for the artist to take risks, not only for himself but for his audience, and to provoke a response.”

Jimmy Ray himself, who has been McLauchlin’s muse for some 40 years, had silently materialized on the other end of the sofa and was reading a copy of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The idea of building a chapel to his muse came to McLauchlin six years ago when he had an exhibition at the Museo de la Ciudad in Queretaro called “Artifacts from the Chapel of Jimmy Ray” which incorporated found objects in an irreverent display of altars.

“But it was almost as if they were artifacts unearthed from a different culture rather than just random objects. In doing the show I created a mythical chapel in my head. Then I realized that wasn’t enough — I had to actually build it.”

Mr. Ray nodded in agreement, but didn’t look up from his newspaper.

Without the help of an architect, but with the vital aid of a longtime assistant, Carlos Ramirez, the chapel has been an on-again, off-again construction ever since.

“I can’t say it is completely finished. It will continue to grow. In fact it may never be finished!”

When McLauchlin was called away to a phone call, Jimmy Ray, who hadn’t said a word thus far, suddenly found his voice. Leading the way to the Chapel under a glittering archway, down inlaid steps and past the incredible bottle-studded, mosaic-montaged temple for recycling organic waste called the Casa de Caca, he expounded on the onerous duties of a muse, on the state of the art market and how his money was on Chelsea for the FA Cup. As the light bounced and sparkled on the gallery’s potpourri of glass and mirror and tile, he mumbled about avatars and inspiration and the best taco stands in San Miguel. It was like hearing the mystical ramblings of Allen Ginsberg, made twice as impenetrable by a heavy Oklahoma accent.

As he pointed out the snake-headed handrails, the chandelier hung with a spider’s web of beads and the intricately patterned brick floors, doubts began to arise about his reliability. Many of the things he said about his former life were too bizarre to be true and it cannot be true that the Pope is coming to Guanajuato solely because of Mr. Ray and his chapel.

I stopped writing notes and turned to question him, but there was just a flash of his old striped sarape as he disappeared into the dense mesquite bushes and a few tuneless bars of Strawberry Fields floating back on the wind. Then he was gone.

The Chapel opens on February 4 from 1 to 5pm and the public is invited to attend. The food truck, Hierbabuena Cocina, will be in attendance and the cutting edge experimental theater group Cartaphilus Teatro, which has played in Rome, Madrid and London, will perform. Patrice Wynne will be reprising the role of Mistress of Ceremonies that she played at the 2007 groundbreaking of the Chapel.

Anado and Jimmy Ray were not forthcoming about what roles they would play at the opening, but it will surely be something provocative.

For directions, email Visit

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