Puerto Vallarta has matured over the decades into an
all-encompassing beach resort offering something for every type of
traveler from beach lovers to history and culture buffs to eco
tourists. In recent years, the burgeoning creative side of this
Mexican Pacific resort has given the destination a worldwide buzz,
and art has become one of the biggest selling points for
A healthy artists’ community has called Puerto Vallarta home
since the 1950s, and art has been a significant part of the city
since the first gallery opened in 1971. Nowadays, the art scene is
prevalent throughout the destination dozens of high-end galleries
tucked into old buildings along the cobblestone streets of Old
Town, modern structures of Marina Vallarta and public art
sculptures on the Malecon, Puerto Vallarta’s picturesque waterfront
The new crop of cutting-edge dining venues also has become a
backdrop for art, with many restaurants showcasing permanent
collections and temporary exhibitions for patrons.
Whether clients want to invest in the work of renowned or
up-and-coming artists or simply explore the diversity of painting,
sculpture, photography and other mediums, Puerto Vallarta is the
best beach resort in Mexico for a concentrated dose of high art.
Respected dealers represent the work of international, national,
regional and local artists, and many galleries offer walking and
Galleries of Distinction
Puerto Vallarta’s varied mix of fine art galleries showcases an
array of talents and mediums, including classic, contemporary and
folk art of Latin American and international artists. From the
traditional to the avant-garde, a vast spectrum of work is
available for art novices and collectors who want to take home a
bit of Puerto Vallarta’s cultural artistry.
One of the best times to explore the galleries is from November
through April during Art Season, which features cocktail receptions
and openings at various galleries, where guests can mingle with the
artists while viewing their work. The annual month-long Festival de
las Artes is also held in November, with dedicated art gallery
exhibitions as well as open-air theater performances throughout the
Within the city’s Art District in Old Town, the standouts for
art enthusiasts are Galeria Uno, Galeria Pacifico and Galeria Omar
Galeria Uno, Puerto Vallarta’s oldest gallery, was established
in 1971 by Jan Lavendar as a showplace for the work of the budding
artists’ community of the time. The gallery has since become one of
Mexico’s best showplaces for Latin American contemporary art.
Housed in an old adobe home, the creations of more than 30 artists
are displayed around a central courtyard.
With its long-standing reputation for quality artwork, Galeria
Uno represents many artists who have become famous in the
international art world, including Alejandro Colunga, a Mexican
artist who has created some of Puerto Vallarta’s most distinctive
public art sculptures. The walls of Galeria Uno are lined with
interesting paintings of other prominent Mexican artists, including
Vladimir Cora, Sergio Garval and Oscar Zamarripa. Galeria Uno also
stages a varied calendar of art openings and art walks from
November through April. Call 011-52-322-222-0908. Web
Established in 1987, Galeria Pacifico is a highly respected
gallery owned by Gary Thompson. Over the years, Thompson has
represented emerging young artists, such as Alejandro Colunga,
Vladimir Cora and Jose Esteban Martinez, who have become
internationally famous, as well as such established masters as
Diego Rivera and Rufino Tamaya.
The small gallery exhibits an attention-grabbing collection of
changing exhibits, notably the rich and whimsical paintings of
Mexican artist Alfredo Langarica and the youthful, realist
paintings of Rogelio Diaz, one of Puerto Vallarta’s rising
Thompson offers an excellent walking tour that explores the
public art sculptures along the Malecon and visits the studio of
the renowned Richard Baker, who creates intricate watercolors on
canvas in a hillside retreat in Puerto Vallarta’s famous Gringo
Gulch. Call 011-52-322-222-1982. Web site: www.art mexico.com.
For photography lovers, Galeria Omar Alonso opened in late 2001
as the first gallery in Puerto Vallarta specializing in the work of
national and international photographers.
The modern space features changing exhibits with dramatic images
by well-established photographers such as Wouter Deruytter, from
Belgium; Michal Macku, from Czechoslovakia; Wilhelm Von Gloeden,
from England; and Gonzalo Ramirez, Fernando Sanchez and Luis Ruben
Arguijo, from Mexico. The gallery also features sculpture and
engravings. Call 011-52-322-222-5587.
Other notable galleries include Galerie des Artistes
(858-578-8113), which stages an eclectic mix of art, including
everything from decorative objects to extraordinary paintings by
Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco, and Galeria
de Ollas (011-52-322 223-1045; www.galeriadeollas.com), offering
ceramic creations of the finest potters from the town of Mata
Puerto Vallarta’s waterfront Malecon has become a forum for
artistic expression, with a growing number of eye-catching public
art sculptures spanning the walkway along the beach.
The first installment was Mexican artist Rafael Zamarripa’s “The
Seahorse,” erected in the late 1950s during Puerto Vallarta’s
beginnings as a tourist destination.
“The Seahorse” was the only public art sculpture in the
destination until 1984, when Mexican sculptor Ramirez Barquet
created “Nostalgia,” a bronze bench located at the spot where he
proposed to his longtime love in 1973 after a 26-year
“Nostalgia” sparked the idea for a series of public art works
along the Malecon, and since the mid-1980s, the destination has
commissioned works by leading sculptors.
The collection includes works such as the simplistic “Seahorse”
to the surreal “fantasy chair people” of Mexican artist Alejandro
Colunga’s “Rotunda on the Sea” and the curious creatures of Sergio
Bustamente’s “In Search of Reason.”
A handful of Puerto Vallarta’s hip new restaurants also double
as art spaces, allowing patrons to dine on the creative nouvelle
cuisine of inspired chefs while taking in art exhibits.
Trio, owned by acclaimed European chefs Bernhard Guth and Ulf
Henriksson, is situated in an elegant historic building. Unique
paintings and sculptures are sprinkled throughout the restaurant,
including Mexican artist Alfredo Langarica’s “Used to Be a Trio,”
featuring three humorous guitar players.
The multilevel restaurant, which has an open-air courtyard with
a sandstone fountain, a hand-carved mahogany bar and Tiffany-style
windows, features a second-floor gallery space for private parties
and a rooftop garden bar, where art shows and small concerts are
often held. Trio’s menu boasts an innovative selection of
Mediterranean-inspired dishes flavored with Mexican spices. Call
011-52 322-222-2196. Web site: www.triopv.com.
Another popular venue is Cafe des Artistes, a romantic
restaurant spotlighting the cuisine of celebrated chef and owner
Thierry Blouet, who crafts dishes blending French cooking
techniques with Mexican ingredients. The venue exhibits several
intriguing works of art, including large-scale canvases. Web site: