Art walks showcase Baja’s vibrant culture
By Chris Sands • Photos by Joseph A. Tyson
Los Cabos may have built its reputation as a resort destination on sunshine and sandy beaches, but for those seeking more sophisticated pleasures, the region also offers an increasingly vibrant cultural scene.
Fine arts and crafts galleries proliferate in the downtown neighborhoods of Cabo San Lucas, San José del Cabo, and Todos Santos, exhibiting works from an eclectic mix of Mexican and international artists and in styles that range from ancient—pre-Columbian pottery, totemic animal figures—to brashly contemporary.
And since the one thing cabeños (residents of Los Cabos) agree upon is that we all love a good party, there has been a trend in recent years toward lively, regularly scheduled cultural happenings. Most notably, weekly or monthly art walks that provide an introduction to local artists and galleries, as well as a celebration of traditional Mexican food, drinks, music, and dance.
The Los Cabos area’s longest-running perambulation for the wine and cheese (or tapas and tequila) crowd traverses the charming cobblestone streets of San José del Cabo’s historic Distrito del Arte. It is held 5 p.m.–9 p.m. each Thursday during high-tourism season, November through June. Art Walk (www.artcabo.com) offers up-close looks at the eclectic treasures housed in the colonial-style city’s many fine arts galleries.
Do your interests run to Mexican folk art? Several local galleries, including La Sacristía, specialize in Mata Ortiz pottery—made by modern disciples of Juan Quezada in Chihuahua, in a style that dates back more than a thousand years—while others spotlight colorful, totemic beaded figurines made by peyote-influenced Huichol Indians, or custom-made glassware and jewelry.
Despite the often-traditional focus—check out the Day of the Dead “Art and Altars” exhibitions that kick off the seasonal event—San José del Cabo’s Art Walk, and its gallery district, is neither démodé nor parochial. Muvezi showcases Shona stone sculptures from Zimbabwe, Dharmesh Anand displays “sacred abstract art,” and Casa Dahlia, Patricia Mendoza, and Galería de Ida Victoria represent some of México’s finest and most inventive contemporary artists.
The aesthetic pleasures extend to neighboring bars and restaurants, which offer an array of cosmopolitan options after a romantic evening strolling amid bohemians and guitar-strapped balladeers.
The original location of Baja Brewing Company (www.bajabrewing company.com), the state’s first craft brewery, is a particularly popular choice for après Art Walk diners, pairing heady draughts with artfully prepared yet unpretentious menu items.
Once a thriving sugar cane capital, Todos Santos is now best known as a surf mecca, and the home of one of México’s most prolific artists colonies.
The bohemian Pacific Coast pueblo mágico—this designation is given to select Mexican towns whose natural beauty, cultural riches, and/or historical relevance translate to a “magical experience” for visitors—is located about an hour north of Cabo San Lucas by car. It’s a popular destination for those interested in sightseeing or staying at the winningly comfortable yet slightly unorthodox Hotel California (the hotel’s original owner, a Chinese immigrant, sought to acculturate himself by changing his name to the florid Don Antonio Tabasco; and each room is individually decorated and adorned with local artwork), and of course exploring some of the peninsula’s premier fine arts galleries.
The annual Todos Santos Open Studios Tour (www.artistsof todossantos.com), in which area painters, sculptors, photographers, muralists, jewelers, printmakers, and potters invite guests into their galleries and workspaces, is a highlight of the February events calendar. But artistically inclined high season (October–May) visitors can enjoy similar access to local artists and their creative output during the Caminata de Arte, also known as the First Friday Art Walk (held, as one might expect, on the first Friday of each month).
Famed for its abundant big-game sportfishing, boisterous nightlife, championship-level golf courses and luxury resorts, Cabo San Lucas has only recently begun flexing its cultural muscles with the addition of a weekly art walk event on its scenic marina boardwalk. The Land’s End city’s Circuito Cultural Marina Cabo San Lucas (www.circuitoculturalcabo.com) premiered in January, and it has already become a must-see showcase of local color, featuring close to three dozen local artists, as well as cultural workshops for kids, and traditional Mexican song and dance.
And because Cabo San Lucas will go to great lengths to uphold its good-time reputation, visitors can also look forward to wine and tequila tastings and sampling from special tasting menus at some of the area’s best restaurants. The cultural circuit takes place every Saturday from noon to 11 p.m., with workshops scheduled from 5 p.m.–7 p.m., and live entertainment on tap 7 p.m.–11 p.m.
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