This month’s cover features a work in oils by Sherie Stokes Sourelis entitled La Tortilleria. This whimsical, colorful rendering is loosely based on a street in San Antonio Tlayacapan, which caught the artist’s eye for the trees blooming in the background, and Mexican composition. Having lived in the area for the last 11 years, Sherie is inspired by Mexico, its people, customs and colors; she carries crayons in her purse and a sketchbook in the door of her car for just such occasions when a scene, or face will completely absorb her attention.
Born in Carlsbad, New Mexico, Sherie’s family moved to California when she was three days old, settling in Palm Springs eventually, where they remained until she was twelve. The eldest of five children, Sherie was first introduced to Mexico when the family migrated to Guadalajara. Her youngest brother was born here and also her three children. She has been visiting Lakeside most of her life, on weekends, to visit friends and show her art, and it was a natural step to move here permanently in 1991, where life is more pleasant than in the big city. “I prefer the life where you can say hi to people, and they know you; it’s a good feeling,” she says, “I like the style of living here, and the Mexican people. I’m not used to the customs in the States anymore,” she adds laughing.
The impulse to create art has been with her for as long as she can remember. Her mother had a hard time keeping her masterpieces off the walls and furniture when she was a child. If an art class was being offered in summer school, she was the first in line to enroll, and the joy of studying has never left her. Consequently, she went to Belgium to further her talents at the Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, and traveled Europe extensively in the summers, visiting museums, shows and locations from her favorite paintings. She also credits Virginia Griffith, her teacher at the Mexican American Institute in Guadalajara, as rounding out the basic skills she has employed in her art since.
Since moving to Lakeside, Sherie has worked in real estate with several companies, also hostessing at Bruno’s restaurant for a time, all the while creating art in oils, ink washes, mixed media, and most recently, with a digital camera. I ask her what inspires her and she answers thoughtfully, “Sometimes people, sometimes moods, the time of day, color, the rainy season…it makes everything look brighter,” she says, “Also, graveyards inspire me. I love the way Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead, and after my daughter, Sheri Paulina, died two and a half years ago, I painted a whole series on the subject. It was a healing experience.”
Of her remaining children, her son, Francisco Javier, lives in the U.S. and daughter, Ana Marcela, is married to a talented, modern artist in Mexico City. Sherie plans to spend a month in D.F., creating alongside her family there, with hopes of mounting a group show some time following. Meanwhile, she is never far from her sketchbook, and with her new love of digital photography, Sherie continues to explore her creative side in the country she has adopted and loves, ” I just put a new canvas on the easel today,” she says. Those of us who live here can look forward to many future shows from this gentle and genuine, Lakeside talent.
This article appears courtesy of the Chapala Review, a monthly Newspaper published in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico. The focus is the Lake Chapala area. The goal is to provide quality information about the area, its stories, events, history, culture and people.