Story and photos by Susan A Mahalick
August 19, 2015 (Baja California, Mexico)--My life is not all events and parties; there are my contracts, which I am most fortunate to do from home, my two cats, Zoë and Chloë and my friends, some of whom own businesses. It is possible to work in Baja, but most Americans I know open their dream businesses, such as wineries, gift shops, and galleries.
The gallery in La Misión is owned by three women partners, DJ, Maria and Dorothy. DJ had a successful gallery years ago since she is an artist herself, has a good eye and collects gift item and paintings to sell in the shop. Maria runs the coffee bar and serves up coffees, soft drinks and confections made by Dorothy, the third member. She can make some of the best cheesecake, carrot cake or fudge you have ever had and it all sells for what I think are low prices. A generous slice of her cheesecake goes for just $3 and her carrot cake which contains not only nuts, but also pieces of pineapple is both tender and full of flavor. The fudge usually comes out around the fall and winter holidays in flavors such as pumpkin, chocolate and maple. Three pieces for a dollar seems like a bargain to me!
Dorothy is also the accountant for the group as she is a wizard with numbers. I suspect she did this for a living at some time. Even her inventory system is unique and full of colored envelopes to keep track of artist’s work and contact information.
The gallery has been open for 13 months now in a very small group of businesses that makes it somewhat difficult to find if you do not know the area very well. It does not make much sense to tell a newcomer that it is where Baja Burgers used to be since that business is long gone. The rental was remodeled with a new bathroom and kitchen area, lots of white paint and shelving to display the smaller wares such as ceramic pottery and jewelry. Among the most popular items are the small purses and wallets from Guatemala. The smallest I use for two lipsticks, the next size up is my wallet and this being the age of technology there are bags to contain your iPad or Kindle to keep them both safe and identified as yours.
We all do a potluck on Sunday when we are all present. Yesterday Dorothy brought nachos we could pile high with scallion greens, avocado, black olives, tomatoes and sour cream. She uses sour cream for her cheesecakes so has the large tub on hand all the time. Someone bought an entire key lime pie she made yesterday. I usually bring a pasta or other salad. My offering yesterday was three bean salad, which many Americans remember as being a common offering in the 60s and 70s. Maria likes the variety of having American food so I made it especially for her and left her with extra she could share with her husband, who is the local doctor. Her grandchildren are ever present on Sundays as well.
A chef from Italy helps DJ set up the easels outside and get her safely into the shop and comes back later to reverse the process. I was treated to some organic chicken livers he cooked on Thursday when I made an additional trip for the week.
The Gallery Girls are thinking about closing their doors, but they’re giving it one more month to evaluate.
The gallery is open from 10-4 on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
It is best to call and get directions your first time.
619-564-4295 or 646-155-0972 is the gallery phone. The first number goes to DJ’s home and she does have an answering machine.
Susan A Mahalick has written for the Baja Times, ezine.com and the Secretary of Tourism. She has a book on Amazon called My Gold Coast—Baja, A Practical Guide, 3rd edition. The paperback version will be out shortly and the Kindle version is published.