Puerto Vallarta is home to one of the most dynamic and fastest growing arts scenes in Mexico. With over 30 art galleries displaying works by local, national and international artists – from native indigenous art and traditional Mexican silverware, glasswork and pottery to folk art, contemporary paintings and sculptures – the local arts scene has been revitalized by a cosmopolitan group of resident artists that have decided to call Puerto Vallarta home.
Arts aficionados will enjoy the numerous gallery openings and weekly art walks that are held year-round and are an integral part of the local social scene.
Puerto Vallarta’s love of art is also evident in the town’s impressive collection of public art that lines the malecón, the town’s seaside promenade. This collection has greatly been enhanced since the first sculpture adorning the malecón, the nine-foot high Seahorse, was installed in 1976. The Seahorse has since become one of the most recognized symbols of the city. Today, some of the beautiful and eclectic pieces embellishing Puerto Vallarta’s historic quarters include works by well reputed local artist Ramiz Barquet, as well as from other highly valued artists from the state of Jalisco, including Sergio Bustamante, Alejandro Colunga, and Adrian Reynoso.
Ramiz Barquet’s La Nostalgia represents two lovers reflecting on life’s twists and turns and has become a romantic symbol of Puerto Vallarta. The sculptor’s own love story inspired the piece as a tribute to the woman he long loved, lost and later married. Alejandro Colunga has contributed to the city’s public arts scene with The Rotunda on the Sea, an ensemble of seven large pieces, mostly sea-inspired creatures within a big rotunda. The original sculpture contained 16 pieces but was heavily damaged by Hurricane Kenna in 2002.
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Created in 1999 in honor of the millennium, In Search of Reason is a 30-foot high ladder to the sky with two kids climbing up and their mother yelling after them from below. The statue is the work of renowned artist Sergio Bustamante. Nature As Mother, by another native of the state of Jalisco, Adrian Reynoso, depicts a spiraling wave on a snail, representing the life and death cycle.
Manuel Lepe, is perhaps the most renowned native vallartense painter who inspired a new wave of artists that now call Puerto Vallarta home. One of Mexico’s most highly acclaimed international artists and creator of the “naïf” style, more popularly referred to as Vallarta art, he is the only Mexican artist registered in the French Directory of Naif Art. His works are/were collected by the likes of Elizabeth II, Queen of England; Elizabeth Taylor, John Travolta, former U.S. President Ronald Reagan; former Austrian President and Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kurt Waldheim; and former German Chancellor Willi Brandt, among others. He lived at a time when Puerto Vallarta was beginning to attract the attention of the international media with the filming of Night of the Iguana and one of his first public works adorned the walls of the town. His images were also used for Puerto Vallarta’s first promotional posters. Manuel Lepe’s vision generated a group of followers, mostly self-taught artists that share Lepe’s traits combined with their own approach. Best known are Javier Niño and Ada Colorina.
Ada Colorina presents a world that is full of color and very Mexican in nature. The neighborhood she grew up in as a child and always lived in has influenced her spirit and vision. Her work depicts a typical vallartense world reflecting warmth and happiness, focusing on typical scenes with children playing in the streets. Javier Niño, on the other hand, emphasizes nature as the most striking element while incorporating fantasy.
Other local artists have also earned an international reputation and visitors can admire their works in numerous Puerto Vallarta galleries. Two of the best known include Ramiz Barquet and Rogelio Diaz.
Ramiz Barquet sculpts works in bronze that express gratitude for a life richly lived. Nature highly influences Barquet’s art and a few of his works form part of the public art collection that embellish the city. Rogelio Diaz identifies himself more with figurative art and expressionism. Diaz paints strong and eclectic images with piercing colors that are rooted in Mexico’s indigenous cultures and test the viewer’s emotional consciousness.