Todos Santos has often been described as the creative mecca of Mexico. It's the rustic town where the artists meet. Many of them have stayed on there, populating backstreets and charming nooks with their own personal studios. The main streets aren't short of a gallery or thirty. Even the small cafes often have artwork for sale or display, hanging from their walls.
It's not difficult to see why this town was colonised by artists. The shoreline and the sea seem ever-changing, as the light slips from dawn to dusk to night, and the seasons pass. The coastline here is a favourite spot for migrating birds and other wildlife. Each stroll along it might present a whole new vista, depending upon when you meander on down to see. Indians, pirates, Spanish Conquistadors and missionaries have all touched this town and its outlying environment, over the centuries. Leaving behind them architecture, stories or customs that prevail to this day. It is a landscape, and seascape, alive with possibility for the right mind, behind the right brush and pallet.
Yet it's also not unusual for tourists to pull up, in their coaches, or one by one in their own vehicles, then stand around looking bewildered, searching in vain for the artist community. There are no neon lights here, with great arrows pointing the way, with the legend, 'famous artist in this direction!' Instead, there is the town's newsletter, 'El Calendario de Todos Santos'.
'El Calendario de Todos Santos' ('The Calendar of Todos Santos') was first produced in 1998. It was a humble affair back then, printed as line art on a fax machine, photocopied and stabled by hand. These days, it's a full, glossy magazine, subsidized by advertizements and brimming with vibrant color. It is published eight times a year and distributed all over the town, as well as some of the neighbouring towns too.
It informs tourists and locals alike of all of the current happenings in Todos Santos, including the location of all of the artists' studios and galleries. It serves as a map to the artistic community that everyone came to see. Plus it's free. You can even read it on-line, in English or in Spanish. The current edition is here; while back issues may be found here.
Janice Kinne and Howard Ekman are the couple who started the ball rolling. They are still running the show now. Their vision was simple. They just wanted a source that listed all of the showings, poetry readings, artist talks and gallery opening times; as well as maps, tourist information and the like. They welcomed contributions from the local community, including interviews with many of the artists.
This is still the core of the magazine, though as it grew, so did the subjects on offer. Articles now cover subjects as diverse as astronomy and cooking, while still retaining that emphasis on creativity. As long time columnist, Michael Mercer, commented, in the latest edition, "Looking back, I think Janice and Howard were wise not to overly concern themselves with using the magazine to 'say' something or build a narrative of our time here. Practicing a sort of editorial jujitsu, they simply created a space and let others jump into it, with all our multiplicity of interest and personalities. A cacophony of voices." (Read the full, very entertaining article here).
The latest edition includes commentaries from founders, editors and writers about the magazine; an article discussing the first artists in the area - the prehistoric cave painters; a description of the night sky during the summer months, including all of the wonders of the cosmos visible with the naked eye; a highly amusing tale of mechanics and chillis falling from the sky; a brief tour of all of Todos Santos's hotels, restaurants and cafes; a stunning photographic look at the natural environment; a warning about oceanic rip currents; an explaination of new radicals and antioxidants in salad; a list of all the current wildlife visiting the area; and all of the usual maps, listings, events and happenings. If you're heading out to Todos Santos, be sure to pick one up.
Congratulations all on 100 editions and *I'm raising my glass* here's to 100 more!