by Marla Hoover
Since its inception nearly thirty years ago, the art scene in Puerto Vallarta has matured in many ways. Beginning with a single gallery in 1971 to over twenty in this, the first year of the new millennium, the galleries and their artists have grown to bring a wealth of culture and appreciation to the community.
Seeing a need for a vehicle to display the talent that was abundant here, Jan Lavender, owner of Galería Uno, opened the first gallery in Puerto Vallarta. She states the reason for the continued success of the art community as a whole is because, “this is a pleasant place to live and work with international exposure; art has multiplied here because there is a market.Art feeds on itself, it is exponential, it adds to the quality of life for visitors and residents.”
An obvious advancement is the numerous art genres that can now be found in Vallarta. There are galleries such as Muvieri and Pirámide where the native indigenous art of the Huichol Indians can be found. So too, are folk-art galleries like Puerco Azul, where items are still made with centuries-old techniques that have been handed down from one generation to the next.
There are also galleries that feature silver crafted into one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces and small-scale sculptures, as can be found at Pladi gallery. The glass art medium has also made a big presence. Galería EM produces custom orders of stained, etched, and blown glass and it offers as well glass art objects from their cache of artisans. Antique Mexican and international artifacts of the highest quality along with master prints of great artist such as Diego Rivera, are displayed at Galerie des Artistes, while the popular Mata Ortiz pottery can be found at Galería de Ollas. These specialty art galleries have contributed greatly to the diversity of the art scene in Puerto Vallarta today.
The amount of art that is staying in Vallarta has vastly increased. This is due not only to the quality and quantity of art available, but also to the amount of new residential construction and the fact that many more people are living here, if not year-round then for much of the year. These homeowners want to fill their homes with art that expresses their life styles. Another contributing factor is the popularity Latin American art has gained steadily on the world art scene over the last 20 years a “vital, good quality, and breaking-out art that is not derivative of any other artists or art genre,” as described by Lavender. Besides private residential collections, many of the artists that are represented in Vallarta galleries have also done commission work for businesses around the Bay of Banderas and beyond.
Art that appeals to a more youthful and alternative audience is also being found exhibited. “New things with a bold presence; extremely contemporary work of younger artists; art that is unique and reflects the personality of the owners are becoming increasingly popular,” states Susan Burger de Camacho of Galería Arte Latinoamericano (AL). Many younger artists like Ian Sánchez of Galería Flores, Fernando Sánchez of Galería AL and many other younger talents whose work is being noticed locally are being represented in the galleries.
Three-dimensional art is also gaining in the market place. Claire and Joe Guarniere, owners of Galleria Dante—the only gallery in Puerto Vallarta totally dedicated to sculpture—state, “We are now seeing buyers who having been interested in paintings are now turning to sculpture; they are considering it as an alternative, a complement to their collections of one-dimensional art. We also are seeing a lot more of the pieces our customers buy staying in Puerto Vallarta. Sculptors such as Gabriel Colunga, Jonás Gutiérrez, Octavio González and Adrián Reynoso have added to the quality of life in Vallarta because of the pieces they have dedicated to the public and collectors want to own one for themselves.”
As Puerto Vallarta continues to draw more artists from more areas of the region and the world, the diversity and interest in culture will continue to grow, adding to the livability of the area, while enriching the lives of all, proving that art transcends time and has a process of its own.
While much of the business being conducted still relies upon the tourist trade, repeat clientele are making up an increasing percentage of the city’s art industry. Gary Thompson, owner of Galería Pacífico explains, “Puerto Vallarta is the kind of place people keep coming back to, because of the opportunity to become acquainted with specific artists. This allows them to follow the image, allure and the whole mystique of particular artists and their creative progression from season to season.” Many art patrons are known to plan their PV vacation around their favorite artists’ exhibitions.
Puerto Vallarta has also been the starting point of many internationally acclaimed artists’ careers such as Vladimir Cora, Rodolfo Morales, Daniel Palma and Ramiz Barquet. Gallery owners are especially attentive to finding new talent. Each year there are more emerging artists that are expected to move on to the international arena. Dealers and collectors alike are carefully watching the progress of promising artists: Brewster Brockmann, Rogelio Díaz, Sergio Garval, Manuel Adriá, Sergio Martínez, César López and Norma Adame.
The art that can be found in Puerto Vallarta has also become more progressive. The variety and styles have grown. Gallery owners agree that the choices have become broader and there is a higher quality being displayed. According to Deborah Acosta, co owner of Arte de Las Américas gallery, “We have an extraordinary range of art, art that is fertile, energetic, warm and exciting. Our buyers know that they can always find new things, new energy.”