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.