Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Puerta Vallarta Part 2: The art along the Malecon

Sculpture celebrating the Xiutla Folkloric Ballet. Strollers along Puerto Vallara's Malecon (waterfront) can't help being enchanted by the many wonderful sculptures and other art works that adorn the seafront walkway. Jim Demetro created the one above in 2006 to honor a local dance group called the Xiutla Folkloric Ballet. Xiutla means "the place where the vegetation grows" in the Nahua language of the pre-hispanic inhabitants. The Xiutla group was started in 1993 by Professor Enrique Barrios Limón, one of the foremost teachers of dance in Mexico. He used local Puerto Vallarta children to form one of the best troupes in Mexico, one which has toured internationally. Jim Demetro also sculpted the indigenous woman washing her clothes on the rocks seen in Part 1 of this series.

Art of a more temporary nature. Every day, local sand sculptors utilize this free medium to create elaborate sculptures on the beach next to the Malecon. This one is putting the finishing touches on a Valentine to which he will apply the names of strolling lovers who stop for a look. He asks for a small donation of course. Artists have to eat too.

Sand sculpture of a medieval saint. The sand sculptures were amazingly detailed. It was a little sad to think that a creation like this will only last until the tide comes in. Part of the trick to sculpting like this is to keep the sand moist while sculpting. After the sculpture is complete it is sprayed with a stabilizer coating and allowed to stand for a time before it is demolished and another begun.The art of sand sculpting has developed over the last century and there are even a World Sand Sculpting Academy and regional, national, and international competitions.

Local painters display their works against a stunning backdrop. These easels stand at Los Arcos, an amphitheater roughly in the middle of the 1.25 mile Malecon. Los Arcos is used to present a variety of the arts, including performances and dancing.

Angel de Esperanza. This evocative statue (called Angel of Hope in English) stands a few feet behind the columned arches of Los Arcos. The original sculpture washed away in the huge Hurricane Kenna of 2002. The sculptor, Puerto Vallarta native Hector Montes Garcia, replaced his work in 2007, making it one of the newest sculptures of the Malecon. The inscription on the statue reads: "Angel of Hope and Messenger of Peace.  Always with the hope of Welfare and Equality for all, Wisdom, Love, and above all Peace to all Mankind."

More temporary art. Talk about making something from nothing! This guy created temporary art by stacking rocks on top of one another. Doesn't sound like much, until you really look at it and wonder just how he manages the incredibly delicate balancing act.

Stacked rocks: a closer look. The rocks are rounded by the pounding of the surf. There are few, if any, flat spots on any of the rocks, so placing them one upon the other up to 4 feet tall is quite an accomplishment. The artist's only recompense is small donations by passersby.

Unnamed sculpture. These two pieces reminded me of World War II sea mines used to blow up ships. There was no information on site about the name of the sculpture or the artist.

Triton and Nereid by sculptor Carlos Espino. There are a number of mer-people along the Malecon. The most famous of these is the statue of Triton and Nereid, completed by sculptor Carlos Espino in 1990. The mythical Greek figure of Triton was the son of the sea-god Poseidon, and is usually depicted with the body of a human and tail of a fish, as seen here.  Nereids were a sea-nymphs who surrounded Poseidon. They were friendly to sea-farers and helped them fight storms.

Mermaid violinist, sculptor unknown. This little mermaid played away on her violin under the shade of the fronds of a large palm tree along the Malecon.

Jammin' by the sea. Not far away, another mermaid tootled away on her saxophone, apparently by the same unknown sculptor.

Caballito del Mar, symbol of Puerto Vallarta. This statue, by Rafael Zamarripa, was installed in 1976 and has become one of Puerto Vallarta's most recognized symbols. It was the Malecon's first statue and its name is English means "Little Seahorse".

Sculptures at La Rotunda del Mar by Alejandro Colunga. These two are part of a larger group of surreal sculptures created by Colunga, a self-taught sculptor and painter. The bronze pieces are chairs in the form of sea creatures or other odd figures with a mix of human and sea animal depictions. Many folks can't resist the artist's unspoken invitation to have a seat, rest their feet, and contemplate the sea. And, of course, have your picture taken while doing it.

In Search of Reason, by Sergio Bustamante. Like Colunga's creations, this 1999 sculpture by Bustamante invites participation by the viewer. Innumerable tourists have had their pictures snapped while joining the statue's children on the ladder. The children and their mother are portrayed with Bustamante's trademark triangular heads.

Triangular-headed mother calls out to her children on the ladder. I wondered whether she was exhorting them to go higher, or pleading with them to come down. It is typical of Bustamante to leave you speculating about his work. Bustamante started out studying architecture, but then moved on to the fine arts. He is not only a noted sculptor but also makes beautiful jewelry.

St. Pascual, Patron of the Cooks, by Ramiz Barquet. This 2008 work honors the chefs of Puerto Vallarta. St. Pascual was a 16th Century Spanish friar of the Franciscan Order who became the patron saint of cooks, the kitchen, and domestic animals. He is also helpful in finding lost animals. Here he quietly gazes out to sea at the end of a beautiful afternoon along the Puerto Vallarta Malecon.

This completes Part 2 of my series on Puerto Vallarta. If you'd like to comment, you can leave one in the Comments section below, or email me directly. If you leave a question PLEASE include your email address so I can respond.

Hasta luego, Jim


  1. I love the work of Alejandro Colunga! He's one of my favorite artists. There's more information on him here:
    Alejandro Colunga

    Thanks for sharing. Great pictures too!

  2. Wonderful pictures! I just love the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta, and your photographs bring it all back to me.

    At 52, I am starting to think seriously about my retirement in Latin America, and Puerto Vallarta is certainly a place I would consider -- although it might be on the expensive side for expat life in Mexico, I'm not sure.


If your comment involves a question, please leave your email address so I can answer you. Thanks, Jim