Puerto Vallarta Art & Shuffle

My laptop seems to have packed it in so I am attempting to compose this on a tablet with only a virtual keyboard. Not easy. I have to admit that I am an addict when it comes to the internet.

Anyway, yesterday I discovered the website of the House of Wind and Water, an artist’s studio and residency owned and operated by American artist Kathleen Carrillo, who has been here since 2008. Since I am always interested in how artists live in other parts of the world, I made contact and we headed up into the wilds outside the city to check out her facility. Above is a picture of the outside of our condo in the Amapas Colonia, high above the beach.

The cab driver had no idea where Kathleen’s House was; he seemed a bit concerned as we drove deeper and deeper into the hills behind the city. However, after a journey along the river and what seemed like back in time, we finally arrived at the big red gates of the casa. The drive reminded me of our trip to the restaurant in the back of beyond in Siem Reap, except in this case it was in the middle of the day and we could see where we were going (even though we had no idea where we were).

Kathleen was just concluding a portrait workshop with her students, each of whom was engrossed in the study of a female head in closeup. The assignment was to translate a black and white photograph into an acrylic painting, using a palette selected by the instructor. All of the students were doing a pretty decent job of it, as far as I could tell. We also had a chat with the housekeeper Ginger, a Canadian who has lived in P.V. for 15 years. Above is the dusty country road that leads to the casa, as you can see, it does not get much action.

We had a good look around the studio and living area but could not see the artist casitas because both of them were full. Rather than bother with a cab on the way back, we strolled down the hill to the dusty road to wait for the one bus that rolls through these parts. This is really the back of beyond, one store, one cafe with nice cold beer, four half dressed old men, and many hungry street dogs, a world away from tourism central on the beach. The bus ride back was interesting, full of school kids and one lost Gringo who had caught the wrong bus on his way to the Marina. All the school kids were fascinated by Ty, staring at him and giggling behind their hands.

Later that evening, we made our way back down the 1001 cement steps from our apartment to the dark hillside road to Basilio Badillo and the South Side Shuffle, PV’s biweekly art, music, and shopping extravaganza. Since neither of us see all that well in the dark anymore, we both brought our headlamps to shine a thin bead of light on the pavement. Between 6 and 10 pm, most of the galleries and shops are open late in this area, serving wine and cookies to the culterati throngs, who mix, mingle, and sometimes dance up a storm to the retro beats of the 60s and 70s. (In the afternoon I had a moment with her majesty below, whose skeletal well-dressed beauty reminded me of the more serious memento mori art works one can see all over Italy. Here death smiles rather than frowns.)

There are several interesting galleries on Basilio Badillo, some small one person operations like Color Pod, a studio specialising in coconut pods collected locally and vibrantly painted by Kathryn Graves, and others enormous emporia, such as Galeria Dante, Vallarta’s largest and most eclectic art space. Kathryn’s color pods are great and I really enjoyed chatting with her for a bit about her work and how she came to be in PV after having retired from the banking business in San Francisco. That’s her in the picture below in orange and green.

Although Gallery Dante is stuffed to the rafters with paintings, most some variety of surrealism, I most appreciate the sculpture in their wonderful outdoor courtyard. At the Ambos Galeria next door I also enjoyed the abstract canvases by Hector Jiminez. After a few hours of hard core art viewing, we had to rest the weary eyes and slake the dry palate with two enormous, and strong, margaritas at the Margaritaville Cafe.

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