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May 2009

Feature Article

Beauty on the Plaza

By Herbert W. Piekow

Relaxing on my terrace, with Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," playing in the background, I thought about the magnificent old tree that is the object of this story. The music reminded me that many giant trees are lost to the fury of violent storms, some destroyed by fiery lightning strikes. The 2006 demise of the majestic old Indian Laurel tree on the Ajijic plaza was not the dramatic result of a summer storm; it was instead destroyed from within—riddled with insidious insects.

Rather than leveling and destroying the enormous trunk of the town landmark, the town's "mayor," Delegado Ricardo Gonzales, approached Ajijic sculptor Estele Hidalgo to donate her time to sculpt a public work of art for the plaza. Hidalgo accepted the opportunity with only one stipulation: no restrictions were to be placed on her creativity.

For six months Hidalgo daily visited the tree to observe the way the light and shadows moved across the massive dead trunk. "I'm always imagining my pieces," Hidalgo said. "I put them in my mind. As I worked on the idea for the tree, I knew it should represent Ajijic's environment, namely our lake and local flora and fauna." She has fulfilled that dream in this creation, The Lake Chapala fish, cattails, flowers and other vegetation that add beauty to our lives are easily recognizable.

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