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Vallarta Art Talk with Gary Thompson
Gary Thompson

There is really no mystery why Puerto Vallarta has become a major international art center. Artists have always been attracted to places of great natural beauty. Paul Gauguin and Tahiti is an example. Puerto Vallarta is another.

When visitors flocked to Vallarta in the early 60's, there were already art galleries here and artists in residence. Mexicana airlines used naïf paintings of Vallarta done by native son Manuel Lepe to first promote the destination. Famous visitors from movie stars to the Queen of England added his paintings to their collections, and UNICEF used his images of children with angel wings flying over Vallarta to promote "The Year of the Child" with posters distributed throughout the world.

Puerto Vallarta blossomed from a small village, to a town, to a city. Along the way, thousands of houses and apartments were built that needed to be decorated. Millions of tourists came for the beaches and climate, but many left with pieces of art or craft to beautify their homes and to remind them of a wonderful time spent in Vallarta. The community prospered and more galleries of art and artesania were opened, and many more artists from throughout Mexico and the world moved here to sell their work to them.

Puerto Vallarta evolved into the biggest center of artists and art galleries in the country, outside of Mexico City. Its picturesque boardwalk, The Malecon, has become a promenade of monumental sculptures by world-renowned artists such as Ramiz Barquet, Alejandro Colunga, and Sergio Bustamonte.

During the tourist season of November to April, frequent Art Walks are scheduled both downtown and in the Marina Vallarta that feature some of Vallarta's many fine galleries and their leading artists. In addition, many hotels and restaurants here mount temporary art exhibits as well as featuring paintings and sculptures in their décor on a permanent basis. This overall focus has contributed both to Puerto Vallarta being considered a world class art center, as well as being a "work of art" in it's own right.

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