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For much of the 20th century, the image of Mexico popularized abroad through film, music, art and literature was, more accurately, a portrayal of Jalisco state and especially its capital, Guadalajara. Mariachi and tequila both originated here as did some of Mexico’s most famous singers and actors. The writer Juan Rulfo, whose 1955 novel, “Pedro Páramo,” still stands as the central monument of modern Mexican literature, grew up in Jalisco and vividly depicted its arid, sun-blasted landscapes in his writing, while the architect Luis Barragán, who moved from Guadalajara to Mexico City in the 1930s, carried with him an appreciation for his home state’s cloisters, haciendas and humble country buildings, which he translated in his own work as austere, inscrutable volumes of stucco. “Jalisco,” as a popular saying goes, “is Mexico.”
The third largest metropolitan area in Mexico, with some five million people, Guadalajara moves at a slower pace than the nation’s capital. An ideal weekend here might well be spent in the timeworn cantinas in the busy Centro Histórico and design shops like Occidente, located on the ground floor of the Foro Arquitectura (Architecture Forum) in the tree-lined Colonia Americana neighborhood. Perfect taquerías and raucous seafood joints seem to crop up on every corner — everyone has their personal favorite — and even a comparatively high-concept restaurant like Xokol, run by the chefs Xrysw Ruelas and Oscar Segundo, serves its mostly corn-based dishes with a refreshing dose of playfulness. Countless family workshops, where tradespeople use simple machinery to manipulate tin plate, brick and stone, are found in the city’s central neighborhoods, while master artisans, like the ceramist Angel Santos, maintain and advance the traditions of craft villages like Tonalá and Tlaquepaque, now absorbed into Guadalajara’s ever-expanding periphery. For the local artists, architects and designers who have increasingly chosen to stay here, as well as their counterparts from elsewhere in Mexico and abroad who have begun to settle in the city alongside them, Guadalajara is an unusually inviting and collaborative place to make things.