Sunday, January 25, 2015

Toller Cranston

A serendipitous happening on  Friday and Saturday has given me pause for reflection.  On Friday, while waiting for the group of coffee klatch people to arrive for lunch at Hecho en Mexico, I took photos of the
magnificent light fixture designed by Toller along with a couple of his art works that adorn the walls.

Now, I've eaten in that restaurant so many times and never had the urge to take photos.  I've always enjoyed the art work but still, I never photographed them










When the group arrived, one of the people asked me what "style" was that work.  In my opinion it has a Russian feel and that is what I answered.  Then a conversation ensued about the man, the myth and his home and gardens here in San Miguel.

I regaled the group with a memory that is firmly implanted in my mind's eye.  A birthday celebration for a friend in Toller's studio one night is one of my favorite memories of all my forty years in Mexico.

We met in the main house.  The gardens were lit with candles and lights, as was the house.  After drinks, we wandered down the path to the studio.  Up the stairs we all went.  What awaited us was a surreal and exquisite scene of tiny votive candles and other candles along with the floor being covered in blood red rose petals.  In the midst of this were skirted tables ready to serve an outstandingly delicious dinner with music.

Toller had cleared the space of his easels but pots of brushes and supplies were still to be seen.  After dinner there was dancing.  Rose petals flew!  It truly was a surreal scene that I will never forget.  I wish I had a photograph of that room to share with you.

Other times there were Sunday afternoon soirees of unique, eccentric individuals.  It was so delightful to meet these people and to sit for scintillating conversations.  While helping in the kitchen once, I asked where he had gotten so much roasted chicken.  I laughed when he said, "Why I called Pollo Feliz".   He said I want to be able to talk with the people and not have to be in the kitchen.  Wise man.

The gardens always reminded me of Xilitla and Las Pozas, Edward James' sculpture gardens about six hours from here.  James was a wealthy Englishman.  The English would call both James' gardens and many of Toller's, a folly.  Indeed, always a surprise around the bend.

Toller Cranston in his former life was an acclaimed figure skater.  There are many accolades about him on the internet today from the CBC and others.

Toller Cranston died yesterday of a heart attack at the age of 65.  We will never see the likes of this man again on this earth.  He was one of a kind - witty, talented beyond words, and helpful behind the scenes to many.  He walked the streets of San Miguel in a big brimmed hat.  Eccentric, yes - talented, indeed.

Gone but never forgotten.

13 comments:

Tancho said...

Sad, seems a little to young to pass, at least his memories will cheer many.

Rick said...

Very sad - he is truly a classic and such a great fit in San Miguel. I can't imagine he could have lived his fantasy anywhere else.

Rick said...

Here are photos of his home.
http://www.sanmiguelrealestate.com/property-1777-residential-homes.php

Babs said...

Thanks Rick. The photos of the interior of the house were AFTER he consigned some things at the request of the realtor!

A true fantasy house for a fantasy lifestyle. Lucky man to have had this to surround himself.

Don't you just love the bed with all the sombreros? It's like a movie set........

Retired Teacher said...

When I read the title of your post, his name rang a bell. It wasn't until you mentioned his career as a figure skater that I realized why the name was familiar. (Once upon a time I religiously watched the Olympic Games, both Summer and Winter.) Much too young to pass away.

Sissy said...

There is a wonderful article about Toller Cranston here:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/art-and-architecture/from-the-archives-toller-cranston-peacock-with-a-paintbrush/article1012248/comments/.

Did you have personal contact with him? How lucky for you if you did.

Babs said...

Dear Bill - Indeed, 65 is way too young.

Interestingly, my dad was that age when he died although he had been ill for 4 months with pancreatic cancer.

I was 35 and he seemed old to me, but now that I'm mumble something years old, 65 seems young.

Babs said...

Sissy, thanks for the site info.
I have been to gatherings at his home several times, but it has been seven or eight years since the last time. Always memorable occasions. If you read the blog you'll see where I talk about the memorable party one night at his home.......

marilyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
marilyn said...

Babs, i love the beautiful picture you created of your dinner at his studio. i had a sense of what it was like. i saw Toller around SMA, but, i never had the pleasure of meeting him or visiting his wondrous casa. you have a priceless memory that will last forever - but, sadly there won't be an opportunity for more. Lena

(i deleted my first note because, i saw an error but, couldn't edit it....sorry)

Babs said...

Indeed, Lena, gone all too soon

Droelma said...

Big apologies for posting this on your blog Barb. I have never been able to comment on the retired teacher's blog and just wanted to let him know that " Downton Abbey " is every Sunday night on Mexican TV Canal Once at 9 pm....no cable needed.

Retired Teacher said...

Droelma, I don't understand why you can't post on my blog. My settings allow anyone to comment, including anonymous posters. I have noticed lately that you have to check-mark that you are not a robot (which I have also have to do here on Barbara's blog.)