Working artist Gloria Ruenitz offers art workshops in Todos Santos. // © Gloria Ruenitz
Todos Santos, a Pueblos Magicos town in Baja Sur, has a thriving art scene that is open to visitors — from art lovers to practicing artists looking to join a studio workshop and hone their skills.
A quick walk down the small town’s main street reveals numerous galleries, sophisticated yet cozy restaurants and colorful boutique hotels. So far, Todos Santos has managed to avoid a cookie cutter atmosphere, with nary a brand name in sight. Galleries come and go, but the count hovers around 15 galleries showcasing original work in a variety of mediums.
The town’s largest annual art event is The Todos Santos Art Festival, which has been held in February or March since 1998. Directly following the festival is the Artist’s Open Studio tour. This presents a great opportunity for art-lovers to meet many of the town’s most celebrated artists and to see their work in a studio setting.
But visiting artists’ studios isn’t confined to a single time of the year. Many artists welcome studio visits by appointment. Another increasingly popular option is artist workshops conducted in the artist’s studio.
Over the years, Todos Santos has exerted its magic on visiting artists. It’s common to hear stories of artists falling head-over-heels in love with the town and buying real estate there before their first visit is even over.
“Fifteen years ago, my husband and I lived in Ventura,” said painter and art instructor Tori Sepulveda. “We were traveling through Mexico and when we got to Todos Santos, we looked at each other and said, ‘This is it.’”
For the last five years, Sepulveda has been conducting weekly art classes in her Todos Santos studio on a drop-in basis, every Thursday morning from 9 to 10:30 a.m.
“My classes vary between residents and visitors, and between experienced artists and beginners,” said Sepulveda. “I have a lot of repeat students and children are welcome to attend also.”
Students participate in two hours of drawing or painting in watercolor and acrylic, which is followed by a positive critique. Sepulveda’s studio is connected to her gallery, so students also have the opportunity to view her work and purchase a piece.
The class costs 100 pesos, which at the current exchange rate is about $7.62. There’s an additional charge of 20 pesos for materials ($1.53).
Sepulveda also rents a one-bedroom casita with a kitchen on her property, which has proven to be popular with visiting artists. The casita rents for $125 per night or $800 weekly.
“We have a very supportive art scene here,” said Sepulveda. “We show up at each other’s gallery openings and give each other lots of constructive feedback.”
Gloria Santoyo Ruenitz is another Todos Santos artist offering instruction in her oceanview studio. Ruenitz’s preferred medium is encaustic, which is hot wax with colored pigments added.
“When I came to live in Todos Santos, my art changed not in style, but in context,” said Ruenitz. “It’s striking to live in the desert — everything is so dry and stark. Walking along the beach roads, I found a lot of material I could use in my mixed media encaustic and collage work.”
Her workshops are day-long, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ruenitz is planning several encaustic and collage workshops in the following year. The price is $175, which also includes the cost of materials.
“Working with encaustic is more technical than people might think,” said Ruenitz. “You use a heat gun and the material can be layered and made translucent.”
Artists of Todos Santos is an excellent resource to find additional artists offering workshops and studio tours, as well as to access information on Todos Santos’ gallery openings and special events.