Exploring the art and history of Puerto Vallarta’s sculptures


While visiting Puerto Vallarta, folks are confronted with a true conundrum. There are so many things to do and see that it is hard to decide what to take in with the short amount of time most people’s vacations allow them. Many people decide to go for organized tours, and there is certainly no shortage of tours to choose from. Everything from old movie sets to taco stands…there are people here that will take you where you want to go and show you what you want to see. Going there with someone who knows is a great way to get the most out of your time.  

The Malecon Sculpture Tour is the one tour that everyone, even those of us who call Puerto Vallarta home, should not miss.  The Malecón, the promenade that runs along the waterfront in the center of town, is beautifully designed and landscaped, the waves crashing on the sand and stones below; it is a joy to behold. Winding through the planters enclosed with casual bench seating, the walking surface is intricately inlaid with sea pebbles in shapes that depict some of the symbolism of the Huichol indigenous people who have traditionally inhabited these lands for many centuries.  

At the beginning of each one of the streets that run up the hill through the town proper, there are located large bronze sculptures created and donated by some of the world’s most renowned artists. This wonderful contribution to the public is extraordinary, few cities on Earth can boast of the same. The generosity of these artists affirms the deep affection many of us share for this wonderful place. For decades artists and art lovers alike from around the world have journeyed to Puerto Vallarta to experience the artistry that can be found in almost every aspect of life here. These sculptures epitomize the reason for that attraction.  

There are numerous tours available to help our visitors to enjoy this largesse, but one stands out above the rest as truly unique, for numerous reasons. This is the free tour originated and conducted by Gary Thompson, the owner of Galería Pacífico.  

Gary’s many years actively working in the art world of Puerto Vallarta give him a unique perspective and intimate knowledge to say the least. Gary personally knows many of the sculptors whose work is on the tour and some of these artists are featured in his gallery. Not someone known for pulling punches or glossing things over, the stories and anecdotes that punctuate his discourse serve to provide a unique insight of Puerto Vallarta not available with the City’s tours.  

Another great reason to take Gary’s tour is the opportunity to contribute to the Biblioteca Los Mangos, the only public library in the entire Bay of Banderas. They receive a mere 10 percent of their budget from government sources, so must rely on creative ways to fund their many programs and classes which benefit all, residents and visitors alike.  

Adding to this, Kevin Simpson, owner of the Peyote People and Colectika galleries, who has spent many years working with the native Huichol people, accompanies Gary on the tour. His explanations of the traditional symbolism of the many inlaid patterns bring understanding and an insightful perspective to the ancient Huichol culture and why we still celebrate it today.  

Starting at the Hotel Rosita at the north end of the Malecón at 9:30 am on Tuesdays and usually running for a couple of hours. Comfortable chairs are provided by the Rosita for the first presentation, an in depth narration by Mathis Lidice, author of the Millenia Sculpture that begins the walk. After each presentation, tour participants are encouraged to ask questions and receive knowledgeable answers. This adds an even more insightful dimension to the experience. The tour ends at Galería Pacífico for refreshments and for a finale, a fascinating discourse by Jim Demetro, one of the sculptors whose work is displayed on the tour. Jim goes into depth explaining how the bronzes are made and some of the challenges encountered in creating, installing and maintaining public artworks.  

No one should miss this tour. So make a note, take the time; it will enrich your understanding and appreciation of our unique and wonderful town.  

Be there…Tuesdays through April at 9:30am on the beach side at Hotel Rosita. Free with suggested donation to the Los Mangos Library. 

You can also take part in the evening Malecon Scupture tour with Gary Thompson every Thursday evening through April at 6:30pm. Starting at Galeria Pacifico`s second floor location at 174 Aldama, and continues south to Lazaro Cardenas Park and the adjacent Demetro Galeria. Here the sculptor Jim Demetro talks about his three sculptures passed in route as well as two others nearby.