The Chapel of Jimmy Ray – Fantastic Art in San Miguel de Allende Mexico

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Colorful, but not Christian. Resplendent but not religious. Spiritual but not sanctified. Welcome to the Chapel of Jimmy Ray, just outside of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Cover Chapel of Jimmy Ray

The Chapel of Jimmy Ray

I should be clear to everyone by now that we love San Miguel de Allende, the UNESCO Heritage site and cultured and cosmopolitan town in Mexico’s central highlands. And now we’ve found another reason to love the area: the Chapel of Jimmy Ray. This psychedelic compound is a riot of colors, textures, and patterns. The walls are covered in intricate murals of glass, ceramic and mirror fragments. Buildings hold fantastical paintings and sculptures comprised of ceramic tiles, news clippings, and animal skulls. Every surface seems to skimmer and quiver with creative energy. 

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Who Made the Chapel of Jimmy Ray?

You have entered the property of Anado McLaughlin, the main creative force behind the Chapel of Jimmy Ray. This is where he and lives and works, and much of the work you see around you is his. McLaughlin is an assemblage artist and obviously a tenacious creator. As you tour the property with him, he explains how things were made and what meaning lies behind his work. There are multiple buildings, each decorated in its own way, as well as a short visit inside his house and workshop, which are just as amazing as the gallery spaces. 

entrance

Chapel raptor mural

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The Chapel of Jimmy Ray Tour

The tour took us a little over an hour, but I could have stayed at the Chapel of Jimmy Ray for much longer taking pictures. There was so much to see here: skulls in mirrored mosaic, snakes made out of bottle caps and blinged-out cow skulls that looked like something from a Cartier window. 

Every surface seemed to be overrun with dots, lines or the glint of glass. Much of what was on display was for sale, but McLaughlin isn’t a salesman. He’s a storyteller. He would lead us to this wall or that and tell us what inspired the work and the people behind its creation. 

Something like the Chapel of Jimmy Ray isn’t the work of one man. McLaughlin’s husband is also one of the main creators, and they employ a number of local helpers and assistants who now do their own work as well. For example, the skulls I mentioned before (see below)? Those are the work of one of the local men who they’ve worked with for years. 

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shock & awe collage details

decorative cow skulls

How to Visit The Chapel 

Want to visit the Chapel of Jimmy Ray yourself? First, make an appointment via his website. At the time of writing, he made time to show people around on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but his schedule could vary. Upon arrival, he asks for a MX $200 peso donation. It’s a little out of town and will likely require a car ride. Taxis and Uber are options, or you can do like we did and hire a driver for the day via Transportarte. That way you can make a day out of it, hit the hot springs or visit other places in the area. 

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toilet and window mosaics

Chapel of Jimmy Ray 1

Are You Interested in the San Miguel de Allende Art Scene?

Have you been here? Would you want to go? There are loads of artists in San Miguel de Allende, and I love places like this, but it’s not for everyone. Tell us about it!

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Comments

  1. Thank you, Jason and the family for sharing your experiences!

    As far as I understand you have spent over a year now in Mexico. Wanted to ask you if safety (or lack of it) is a factor to consider in San Miguel and generally in Mexico.
    We are planning to move from Chile to a new country next year and Mexico is definitely on the list. We are just not so sure about the crime situation there.
    Another alternative is Valencia, Spain where you also spend significant time I read )

    Thanks!

    • Hi Mark. Your question is a popular (and valid) one, so let me be clear: there’s definitely crime in parts of Mexico, but I have never felt in danger once in the last 2 years anywhere we’ve been. That’s San Miguel de Allende, Mexico City, the Oaxacan Coast, all over the Yucatan Peninsula and more. Of course, I don’t go to rougher parts of town, and I’m not saying there is zero crime, but we and most people I know almost never encounter it (knocking on wood ;-). I’m sure there are a dozen examples someone could show me of a murder, a robbery somewhere I’ve been, but I could do the same in my home town of Atlanta or hundreds of other cities.

      In Mexico, Spain, Colombia, or anywhere really, even Japan, you have to be aware of not walking down dark alleys, walking alone in the middle of the night (like 3 am), flashing your valuables, or being arrogant to local people. That said, my family and I have never felt danger in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. My daughter (13 yrs) walks around town by herself during the day. My son (16 yrs) walks to/from gym and hangs out with friends late on weekends. Keiko walks alone in the evening. I am not sure if it’s true, but generally speaking, as long as you are not involved in any activities cartel is interested, you should be fine.

      Valencia is a great alternative. If I could choose now I might return to Valencia because of the proximity to the African continent and other Western & Eastern European countries we have yet to explore, but we LOVE Mexico and could easily see settling here. We know many who have! Either way, I hope you find the right place for you!

  2. Sharon Rausch says

    Thank you so much for sharing your helpful information. It’s very unique post.

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