A charming Spanish colonial city with a UNESCO World Heritage designation, San Miguel de Allende, located in the central highlands of Mexico, is a mecca for all manner of creative types.
In a place where scores of art galleries cluster in and around a vibrant centro histórico, you’d hardly think it necessary to make a trek three miles out of town to see one more. But if you don’t, you’ll miss what is arguably the most interesting attraction the area has to offer—not to mention one of its most colorful characters.
Assemblage artist Anado McLauchlin lives on a fantastic 2.5-acre compound called Casa de las Ranas (House of the Frogs). The clear focal point of the property is the Chapel of Jimmy Ray, a gallery that showcases Anado’s work, which he describes as “an irreverent gumbo of the creative, joyful, sacred, profane, dangerous, and adorned.”
The American expat (Anado’s given name is James Rayburn McLauchlin, III) was raised in Oklahoma and spent significant periods of time in New York City, India, San Francisco, and the Sacred Valley of Peru before relocating with his husband, Richard Schultz, to La Cieneguita, a small village on the outskirts of San Miguel de Allende in 2001.
McLauchlin describes Casa de las Ranas as “a life project” he and his husband are creating together that’s meant to be an “homage to the outlander viewpoint, visionary and purely original.”
The gallery, house, and gardens all reflect Anado’s eclectic vision, which combines indigenous secular and religious influences with a sort of freewheeling psychedelia. The genial artist, whose work sells around the world, shares his vision with people who make the pilgrimage to see him…provided they have an appointment.
But for those who can’t make the trip, this video by National Geographic Traveler contributing photographer Bob Krist offers a peek inside the Chapel of Jimmy Ray and Anado’s “art of sacred placement.”