Vibes & Vices: Arte 160

It was Halloween 2016 when I first discovered this local gem, hidden conspicuously at Morelos 664 in the heart of the city.

A friend invited me to a party at the location that evening, and with the serious lack of readily available costumes for people approaching two meters in height in nearby stores, I spent about 100 pesos on a ringer tee and baseball bat from Ley, arranged my locs into pigtails, and was henceforth known as “Marley Quinn.”

I won a 450 peso dinner in that evening’s costume contest, and while it’s certainly a rare treat to turn a profit at a party, my richest reward that evening was discovering the vibrant appeal of this somewhat anonymous storefront on one of Centro’s busiest streets.

The Vibes: If Arte 160 was only an exhibition gallery for local artists, it would still be one of my favorite places in town. The gallery features an array of colorful and imaginative works from artists across and beyond the Banderas Bay area, and as an avid appreciator of aesthetics, I can most certainly dig that. During its daytime hours of 10 to 2, it’s an excellent place to stop for a beer on your way to another.

However, Arte 160 is a space dedicated to visual expression of many kinds, and the establishment is also home to a fully equipped tattooing area contained sanitarily in a side studio off the main hall.  It’s a stellar setup in my opinion…lure creative types in with eye catching art, then once they’re all jazzed up on inspiration, offer them the opportunity to turn themselves into an exhibition-quality work as well.

Some of the area’s most talented gunslingers permanently decorate people onsite, and while my aversion to pain prevented me from getting such a souvenir from the studio at time of print, I’m sure I’ll get over it soon.

Along with a respectable selection of local craft brews, Arte 160 also features a well stocked bar so you can enjoy a cocktail while admiring the artwork or even drink up the conviction to buy a piece from the collection, most of which is available for purchase.

The Vices: Under the stars, this eclectic exhibition space transforms into something more like a nightclub…well, I suppose from my perspective the dance floor transforms into an art studio by day, but it’s a fun place to find yourself in any event. Surrounded by optic treats of many descriptions, the hours fly by in a frenetic kaleidoscope haze.

Featured DJs crank out high energy sound selections that keep the atmosphere consistently charged for that evening’s celebration of life, and while it would be a stretch to call many of the commonly seen dance types “interpretive,” the palpable feeling of collective fulfillment is a work of art in itself: there is no place in the world the assembled would rather be.

The Verdict: Art is one of the few things that separate us from the other animals, a manifestation of our innermost selves and a catalyst for a life richly lived. Without art, there is only utility…without form, only function. Arte 160 stands as a testament to this perspective, placing a blooming concrete garden of hue and shade across a single doorway from the beige bustle of this tranquil resort town.

If we were playing The Most Dangerous Game and you were laying one of those rabbit box traps for me, you’d do very well to make the inside look like Arte 160…perhaps scatter a few buds to really lure me in. Maybe you’ll catch me there.

AJ Freeman on Email
AJ Freeman
AJ Freeman is an adventurous spirit, serial friendmaker, and general enthusiast. He lives his everyday life hoping to demonstrate the nearly infinite potential for discovery and wonder on this small wet rock orbiting a dim yellow star in the backwoods of the Milky Way.