One of the more amusing works along the Malecon is the 7.8 foot Rock Eater created by Jonas Gutierrez in 2006. The magician, made from bronze with a huge obsidian belly, dangles a rock in front of his mouth.
One way I judge a community is by the quality and extent of its public art– mainly because it shows pride in the community. Other obvious indicators include parks, libraries, sports venues, performance centers and museums. Each of these suggests a community has moved beyond mere survival mode and is striving to provide its residents with a quality life.
Schools, public transportation, affordable health care, sanitation, electricity, good government, and a fair legal system are essential but more basic.
Underlying all of this is a healthy economy. Puerto Vallarta’s is tourist-based. Huge cruise ships come in two or three days a week and disgorge thousands of passengers. The airport is always busy. Taxis dash about frantically. Hotels, restaurants and tours fill up, providing jobs and money to fuel the economy.
There are hundreds of small shops and individuals selling everything from trinkets to expensive art to visitors. Everyone in Puerto Vallarta, so it seems, is an entrepreneur– from the oily timeshare salesperson who buries you under a flood of words to the little girl who shyly offers you Chiclets.
Puerto Vallarta also has a thriving art community. It is easy to spend a day wandering in and out of galleries. At some point, the community decided that supporting public art projects would benefit both locals and visitors. Today, major works are found throughout Puerto Vallarta.
Nowhere are these art works more visible and accessible than on the Malecon, Vallarta’s beautiful walkway that separates the main part of the community from Banderas Bay. A short 30-45 minute stroll along the esplanade provides an introduction to some 20 works that invite you to admire and, in some instances, climb or sit on the art.
A side view of the Rock Eater.
Millennia was created by Mathis Lidice in 2001 to celebrate the new millennium and is packed full of symbolism relating to the passage of time.
The top figure on the Millennia sculpture is a woman with a dove, symbolizing a hope for world peace. I find it humorous that giant Frigate Birds often consider the woman and dove a convenient roost.
If searching for whimsical art is your thing, you will find the Rotunda del Mar by Alejandro Colunga a real treat. This series of surreal creatures was created in 1997 and, according to its sculpture, they were “made so they could be used and abused.” Our grandkids Ethan and Cody took full advantage of the offer.
Peggy provides perspective on one of the creatures created by Colunga.
Imagine blowing this nose… These chairs were quite comfortable.
And how about this chai? It was made to accommodate either one very large person, or… (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
…three smaller people including our grandkids Ethan and Cody and Our daughter, Natasha. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Not sure what this creature is but I am sure it meets the definition of whimsical.
I’ll conclude Colunga’s work with the octopus.
How about this face and what is she yelling at? It is part of a sculpture by Sergio Bustamante in 1990.
As for the subject of her yelling, it’s her two children climbing up the ladder. According to the artist, the kids are searching for knowledge.
Leave it to the Italian/Mexican artist Carlos Esprino to introduce Roman/Greek mythology to Puerto Vallarta. In this sculpture, the merman Triton, son of Neptune, courts the illusive sea-nymph Nereida. Triton’ s trident was missing for a while. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
A closeup of Triton. You can see the love in his eyes. Or is that lust?
This iconic sculpture of a boy riding a seahorse by Rafael Zammaripa is frequently used in photos representing Puerto Vallarta.
These two lovers come with a story. It begins with the artist, Ramiz Barquet, falling in love with Nellie Galvan Duque as a young man. The two-part company and raise separate families only to be reunited many years later. A romantic walk the two took along the Malecon is the subject of this sculpture titled Nostalgia.
This graceful rendition of the Mexican Hat Dance by the American artist Jim Demetro was inspired by a visit he made to Puerto Vallarta where he saw it being performed on the Malecon.
These dancing dolphins were also created by an American artist, James “Bud” Bottoms and were donated to Puerto Vallarta by her sister city, Santa Barbara, California.
This Unicorn by Anibal Riebeling supposedly brings people good luck. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
And what’s an ocean without sea urchins? These were created by Blu– one of those guys with a single name. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
The last photo of the day is a sculpture of Pancho Villa, the Mexican Revolutionary. In my next blog Peggy and I visit the small mountain community of San Sebastian and learn about the 1911 Revolution from our guide.