Friday, April 27, 2012

Cajititlan: San Juan Evangelista

This is the third in a series on the architecture and sculpture of three traditional villages, of Los Reyes, San Lucas and San Juan Evangelista, on the shores of Lake Cajititlan, south of Guadalajara.
Each community boasts a colonial church or chapel, ornamented in classic Jaliscan popular baroque style by talented local stonecarvers.
The 18th century lakeside mission of St. John the Evangelist is somewhat grander than neighboring San Lucás (see earlier post.) Occupying its own atrium and cemetery a few kilometers to the east, it offers a feast of colonial stonework to intrigue the visitor.
As at San Lucás, the broad church front boasts a sculpted retablo facade in the regional, folk baroque style. 
Mixed fluted and spiral columns frame its various openings—doorway, choir window and sculpture niches—while naive saints and angels emerge from festoons of serpentine foliage.
An impressive baroque gable with outsize, projecting volutes caps the facade, enclosing a niche with a carved stone crucifix that is surmounted by a dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit. At the apex of the gable, cherubs hold a crown over the Marian monogram.

The lateral doorway is also richly ornamented, with layered jambs and an ogee arch with another primitive angel in flight at the center. A sinuous vine relief snakes along the foliated upper frieze sprouting fruit and tendrils.
Narrow double arcades divide the basilican interior, propelling the eye towards the polygonal apse which frames a handsome, gilded altarpiece in provincial baroque style. The keystones along the arcades are imaginatively carved with the Instruments of the Passion, and other reliefs appear between the arches.
Although there are no known inscriptions at San Juan Evangelista, it seems certain that the stone carving here is by a member, or members of the Sebastián family of skilled masons whose work we saw at San Lucás and the Guadalupe chapel at Los Reyes.
text © 2012 Richard D. Perry;  photographic images ©Niccolo Brooker.  All rights reserved
For more information on the colonial arts and architecture of Jalisco, consult our guidebook, Blue Lakes & Silver Cities, available from Espadaña Press

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