In this month of thankfulness, it’s natural to find yourself in appreciation of the thriving creative community that is just one of this coastal city’s many points of attraction…it was a perfect time to attend the 2019 season’s very first edition of ArtWalk, offering aesthetic enthusiasts such as myself an opportunity to experience almost 20 of the highest profile art galleries in town as part of this engaging weekly promenade.
The Vibes: Once again I was able to turn a preferred personal activity into a part of my job, making the Wednesday night affair into a networking event down at Vallarta CoWork. The space was hosting an extra group of remote workers passing through paradise for a week, a few of whom were interested enough to join a band of office regulars for a moonlight constitutional.
6:30pm rolled around and the Sun began to set because we insist on playing with the clock twice every year. We gathered up our group, and together the 10 of us hopped on a northbound bus to the beginning of the ArtWalk route near Calle Allende. I even made sure to choose an air-conditioned one to avoid an early mutiny (I could tell it had working climate control from down the street because it was heading to another relatively high-rent district).
Our first stop was at Colectika, where we were treated to an in-depth explanation of a particular art form’s cultural significance. The Mesoamerican weavings were highly intricate in nature, with each thread color and stitch type carrying a meaning of its own along with the direct depictions featured in the piece.
The guide went on to exposit that all the pieces in their gallery were produced under the supervision and approval of the indigenous peoples charged with carrying on the tradition threaded throughout each work. He also stressed that most of the beaded beach baubles we so commonly see on street stands are cheap junk, which is something I suspected ever since one local vendor’s unorthodox sales pitch began “Hey man, wanna buy some cheap junk?’
The Vices: Now, I’m a vocal supporter of artistic endeavour, so I would have certainly enjoyed this semi-guided experience with the local art scene on its’ own merits. Each of the galleries along the suggested route has its own signature style, from the sparkling silver jewelry of Only One to the pop-culture preservation going on down at Posters International.
Still, a complimentary drink at each stop along the way is a pretty welcoming incentive, and so lubricated, our party arrived at Galeria Corsica to appreciate their emphasis on sculpture.
A massive brazen figure towered triumphantly over the courtyard in a pose of eternal victory, arms spread wide in that stance of.triumph so innately human that even athletes born blind are known to swell into it when tasting the electric nectar of conquest in competitions such as the Special Olympics. Another favorite was the suspended swimmer whose artist had manipulated the natural patina that makes the Statue of Liberty green to create the illusion of submersion.
As we made our way south, we encountered a stage outside Galeria Browne showcasing a live street concert along with tables loaded with ceviche, taquitos, and other munchies made available to the public. At this point we had been walking for a while, and so a break for free refreshments and a musical interlude was certainly a popular idea among the assembled.
Further along the route, OPC delivered as always with a highlight of this season’s ArtWalk: a shrine to beloved area artist Fernando in the traditional Dia de los Muertos style.
In life, the recently departed Fernando exhibited dedication to both his craft and community, using the handmade kites he was famous for to give pictures of missing children a prominent platform. He was honored for his impact at the gallery with an altar featuring replicas of his work printed with his face as well as his favorite items, including nibs of pure cacao. OPC’s Pilar was not only kind enough to arrange a private showing for our group, but to assure us that Fernando wouldn’t mind sharing a few bits of cacao with the interminably curious.
On the back half of the path we stopped and said “hola” to Tim and Tracey of No Se Nada, an establishment featuring artwork of a different, more delicious kind. We didn’t stop in for a drink–most of us had been quite adequately served over the past few hours–but did manage to set up a lunch group venue for the next day…we do a different place every week and welcome both regulars and randoms, shoot me an email if you ever want to join us.
The last stop before most of our party retired to make preparations for Thursday morning was, Caballito del Mar, specializing in unique items from small towns across the country,
“We pay the artist as soon as we choose their work for our gallery, there’s no way they could work on a consignment basis and still be able to create consistently,” explained curator Savannah as she exhibited a selection of handmade housewares. “All of our pieces are intended for active use, rugs you can walk on, ceramics you can use every day…just because it’s beautiful doesn’t mean it’s for decoration only.”
It’s nice to know some people really get it.
The Verdict: ArtWalk is not only an outstanding excuse to get out of the condo on a weeknight, but an excellent opportunity to learn more about the rich artistic culture of Puerto Vallarta and Mexico at large. The Wednesday night delight is even bigger than commonly advertised: every gallery along the way opens its doors to the tour, not just the ones listed in the schedule. That means there’s ample value in exploring the streets of downtown PV on more than one ArtWalk…maybe I’ll catch you there.