Of all the coastal destinations in Mexico, the resort that offers the best cultural and artistic ambience along with sun, sea, and surf, has to be Puerto Vallarta. This alluring facet seems to fit in perfectly with the historical atmosphere of the old colonial part of town and the charming cobblestone streets that weave their way around the restaurants, bars, cafés, churches, historical buildings, and art galleries. You also get a hint of it as you walk along the Malecón (the boardwalk) and take in the impressive sculptures and the street artists at work.
On my last visit I decided to check out the art scene and take advantage of the many art galleries peppered around the old quarter (or Zona Romántica, as it is also known). From November through April, Puerto Vallarta features an art walk around some of its galleries – it’s a great way to get to know them in a convivial atmosphere where you can sip a little wine and chat with the owners and occasionally with the artists.
It’s a comfortable stroll since the galleries are concentrated in the Zona Romántica, which fortunately is also where you’ll find lots of excellent restaurants for a spot of dining after the walk, which is on Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There are dozens of art galleries in Puerto Vallarta, but only a dozen or so participate in the art walk, so be sure to check out the others when you have time. The centerpiece of most galleries is the paintings, but other artwork on display includes sculptures, ceramics, glasswork, photography, and jewelry.
Puerto Vallarta has gained quite a name for itself as an art venue over the years, and consequently is able to exhibit the works of top Mexican and international artists. One of my favorite finds was the Rodo Padilla Gallery, where the stoneware and bronze sculptures of this accomplished regional artist reflect different aspects of Mexican life and culture through the men, women, and children portrayed, often with a humorous touch.
The distinctive work of Sergio Bustamente represented in sculptures, jewelry, and accessories can be appreciated both on the Malecón and at the Bustamente Gallery on Calle Juarez. Mexican contemporary fine art created by a wide range of artists can be enjoyed at any of the three Corsica Galleries in Puerto Vallarta. Galería Pacífico is one of the most respected contemporary galleries in the whole of Mexico and you can understand why when you see the marvelous range of sculptures and dazzling, surreal paintings on display – a truly eclectic mix by mainly Mexican artists.
For a taste of realism, stop by the Galería Whitlow and wonder at the still life precision of artist Michael Whitlow and the amazing fidelity of the giclées; make sure you eat before visiting – there is a lot of food on view. Finally, to view fascinating indigenous artwork, handicrafts, ceramics, and masks, and also to pick up a great gift with a real Mexican flavor, pay a visit to the Galería Indígena on Calle Juarez.