Art in Puerto Vallarta – Ole!

Greetings from beautiful Puerto Vallarta! We are here to enjoy some sun and sea and to do some artwork at the fantastic Art Vallarta studio in Old Town. Here we are at the door of Art Vallarta, with Frida mural by local artists Tony Collantez and Quetzal Cuatl.

In the facility is a great show of Valentine’s Day-themed and Frida Kahlo-based artwork curated by Nathalie Herling, featuring art by 40 international and local artists, and other pieces, including paintings, pottery, and murals.

All the work is so colourful and fills the space with energy and joy. Nathalie showed us around as we waited for the watercolour course to begin.

On display are several clay tagines by my clay maestro Froylan Hernandez, very whimsical animalistic pots.

Nathalie is converting the building’s gym into a painting studio; already oil and acrylic classes are taking place here.

This piece is a take-off on the famous Pre-Raphaelite painting of the Lady of Shalott by JM Waterhouse, featuring Frida in the lead role.

Here’s a picture of me wearing one of Nathalie’s Easter bonnets.

Local artist Veronica Rangel is the watercolour teacher and the four of us had her all to ourselves.

She started us off on a exercise in which we painted a seaside scene, using washes and masking.

The classes include paints, brushes, and paper and each of us were given a palette with the same selection of colours to create our landscape image.

I was moderately happy with my work, until, in a frenzy of impatience, I ripped the masking tape off my edges and tore a strip off the paper.

As you can see, Barb and Kathy were pretty happy with their creations.

As well as the landscape exercise, Veronica also showed us a staining technique, which Janet demonstrates below.

Below is my second attempt at the landscape. It looks like a rogue waterspout. Barb decided for her second attempt that she would try a volcano.

Here we are at the end of the class, three hours of fun, and very happy with our productions. Veronica is very lovely and a patient teacher.

See more photos here.

For more info on Art Vallarta, click here.

If it’s Wednesday night in PV, the Centro Art Walk is the place to be; the five of us grabbed a cab from Amapas that whisked us first to the bank to withdraw some needed cash, then to the first stop on the art trail, the Colektika Galeria of contemporary Mexican folk art.

I hadn’t been to this gallery before – it is huge with many rooms and a courtyard out back, run by a guy originally from Toronto who came here to study Spanish.

They have some really fabulous stuff, like this painted wood unicorn, and the skulls below with objects atop. I love these.

The Gallery also has a small section of old artifacts in a glass case, presided over by a grinning skeleton.

Galeria Corsica was next on the tour; here Barb and Maggie are admiring the large impasto portraits.

This gallery, too, has a lovely outdoor sculpture court.

Janet tried out her swimming stroke …

I really love these photographs of figures with faces caked in mud and other organic materials.

My favourite gallery for really contemporary art is the Galeria Omar Alonso, kitty corner from the Cafe des Artistes. Right now it has some fabulous white clay sculptures, as well as knitted wire and chain pieces.

This figure, made from clay, looked like it was constructed from hundreds of white golf tees. The piece below comprises wooden chains dropping from the ceiling to touch a mirror on the floor, making it look as though they drop away to infinity.


La Pulga Gallery didn’t have much going on, but it has a beautiful outdoor space where we stopped to enjoy some pretty good white wine.

Galeria des Artistes, right next door, has some interesting paintings of male figures in lucha libre masks.

One of the most interesting spaces we visited was the Starving Artist Studio Gallery, started by Rodolfo Blanco, seen below, a really nice guy who chatted to us about the place and his projects.

See more pictures here.

We finished the evening with some tasty nibbles at Florio’s on via Galeana, just off the end of the Malecon, an Italian-Argentinean pizza place with an artsy vibe. Good Times!

Puerto Vallarta nights: Dancing and Art Walking

Traditional Mexican dance demonstrations are held twice a week in Puerto Vallarta, Sunday nights at Los Arcos small amphitheatre on the Malecon and Friday nights at the park in the South End. Sunday was a beautiful day and glorious cloudless evening; the crowd on the Malecon was thick as we wove our way towards the amphitheatre.

The place was packed and the only spot where we could see the dancers was behind the stage – less than optimal …

We watched a flamenco-like version of Ravel’s Bolero and a couple of regional dances by a troupe of brightly-clad and beautiful people before crossing the street to the main square where a competing crowd of folks danced in front of the bandstand to recorded Glenn Gould big band music.

Sitting in between these two gave us a somewhat schizophrenic musical experience. The church of Our Lady of Puerto Vallarta, with its beautiful silver crown, glowed against the sky as the night darkened.

The tiny dog you can see in the shadows below was quietly waiting for its master while the Easter Sunday mass progressed.

Both Ty and I were sick for a couple of days; after fighting off a cold, we headed back out to the beach, frolicing in the high waves and enjoying the people-watching.

Wednesday night saw us out on the streets of centro again for the weekly Art Walk, a PV staple for the last fifteen years. Since we didn’t have a map of the walk, we asked in a few local restaurants if they knew where the Art Walk was; although it’s been going for such a long time, none of them did … sigh.

We did eventually find one of the galleries and from there, with map in hand, we were able to make our way around to almost all of the participating galleries. PV’s contemporary art scene is apparently second only to Mexico City’s but this night there weren’t too many people out, possibly because it’s nearing the end of the season here.

We saw some beautiful Mata Ortiz pottery at the Galeria de Ollas. Each of these exquisite pieces is hand built from coils (no wheels are used) and painted freehand – the detail is incredible. Just down the street at the Galeria Serendipity, the collection is eclectic, with surrealist painting, bronze sculpture, and folk art co-existing.

The weary looking gallery owner welcomed us effusively, happy that someone had seen fit to cross his doorway on a quiet night. Around the corner at the Galeria Colibri, specialising in Mexican folk art, we did break down and buy two painted coconut masks from their vast selection (although I’m not sure where in our bags they’re going to fit).

From there we followed the small crowd to Arte 550, the gallery and studio space of Patricia Gawle and Kathleen Carillo, two women who are a going concern.

They paint and sculpt, run a B&B and “art experience” workshops and retreats, and offer lessons in their studio. I loved their space – it’s big enough to have separate work and display areas with a largish open courtyard at the back.

The biggest and most diverse collection of art is housed at the Corsica Gallery, a vast complex of bronze figurative sculpture and surrealist painting, some of it soft-core-like images of young girls with their panties exposed a la a mid 20th century European painter whose name (beginning with a “B”) escapes me at the moment. While the painting did not appeal, some of the bronze sculptures were excellent and what a fantastic display space.

Across the street, at the Omar Alonso, abstract paintings co-exist with an interesting installation of bricks and water, with which we were encouraged to interact. I obliged, making a small inukshuk as my contribution to the PV art scene.

Our final stop on the Walk was the Galeria Whitlow, the showroom and studio of self-taught painter Michael Whitlow, orginally from California and now resident in PV.

He specialises in photo-realist still lives, framed and lit enticingly, and also carries the work of other realist painters; David was kind enough to chat to us about the PV scene and how he came to be there.

After a few hours of art, the stomach was rumbling and we rolled into Pipi’s for what turned out to be the most enormous burritos I have ever seen. I couldn’t do more than nibble on the corner of mine like a mouse; we packed them home for lunch later.

Walking back along the Malecon was like being in some other world; while the streets two blocks away were quiet and laid back, with art, artists, and good food, the boardwalk was absolutely packed with vacationers in a scene that could have been anywhere … Waikiki Beach came to mind.

See more pics here.