So you’re in Cabo and you’re tired of the beach. (What, it could happen…) Put away your bathing suit and call an Uber to take you to downtown San Jose Del Cabo where you can experience a more hidden culture there: the art scene. It’s a little known fact about Cabo, but it has the largest historic art district in Mexico—which is astounding all on its own because it’s really only two square blocks of galleries.
The Gallery District stretches out behind the main square and historic church in San Jose Del Cabo. Visitors will walk on cobbled streets to a selection of 16 galleries in historic buildings. And more artists are moving in every year as the art district’s popularity grows. There’s even an association of artists in the area, the Gallery District Association. In 2001, the association championed an art walk through the district, which is now one of the most popular events in town. The main street in the district is shut down to car traffic at the time, to make the event even more peaceful.
Want to experience the Gallery District yourself? Head to San Jose Del Cabo on any Thursday night between November and June. The walk runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., goes to 16 galleries and passes by five restaurants for a dinner break. Every gallery considers the walk a special event—some will serve champagne or wine, others use it as an opportunity to open new exhibitions and showcase an artist-in-residence. The gallery owners are generally available as well, to provide tours and show off the creation spaces and workshops behind the art.
Follow in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck, who once tread the cobbled streets of San Jose Del Cabo finding inspiration for their work; we’ve compiled the best of the best galleries to see where you can find your own spark of inspiration.
1. Patricia Mendoza Art Gallery
This gallery is one of the most visited in the district, boasting a multi-artist collection of sculptures and paintings. The work rotates in the gallery, and owner Mendoza prides the space on showcasing the artwork in a museum-quality setting. If you want to get a good handle on the Gallery District and the history behind it, start your tour here. The current artists represented are: Aidee de Leon, Mario Martín del Campo, Sofía Echeverri, Xavier Esqueda, Luis Filcer, Javier Guadarrama, Carlos Jaurena, Jorge Luna, Jorge Marín, Victor Mora, José Parra, Claudia Rodriguez, Joao Rodriguez, Marco Vargas, Rita Vega and Barry Wolfrynd.
2. La Sacristia
Here, you’ll find a wide selection of traditional and contemporary Mexican art. The gallery is split into sections. One side has beaded sculptures and handicrafts, the other has jewelry and sculptures, and in the back you’ll find whimsical animals, pottery and plates, and paintings. This gallery is a great stop to learn about folk art and modern trends throughout Mexico, and the colors and fanciful forms throughout will brighten your day.
3. Frank Arnold
Hailed by Fodor’s as possibly the “best gallery space in town,” Arnold’s gallery focuses on his own work of abstract oil paintings and bronze sculptures. His studio is in the same building as his gallery—and if you ask nicely, he’ll take you on a tour. He describes his work as pieces of self-examination, little micro documentaries that he creates to preserve a moment in time.
4. Enrique Bascón Galería de Arte
Bascón comes from Spain to exhibit his art in Cabo, which usually focuses on people and can be quite controversial. He does his best to capture the spirit of a person—like colorful Andy Warhol-esque paintings of Frida Kahlo—or to hit the essence of an event or moment, like a portrait of an artist flying a kite in protest of 43 students that went missing in Mexico. All of his art is emotional and raw, with an uncluttered and visible point of view.
5. Ivan Guaderrama Art Gallery
If you want interactive art, this is the gallery to hit. Guaderrama’s specialty is contemporary Christian art, but the interactive pieces are really something to behold. One of the coolest is a painting you touch at the same time as another person. While you’re both touching the painting, you can tap your fingers on the other person’s arm and the painting plays music. It’s like using your date as a human piano.
Jennifer Billock is an award-winning writer, bestselling author and editor, focusing on culinary travel. She has written for The New York Times, Yahoo Travel, National Geographic Traveler, Porthole Cruiser, Midwest Living and Taste of Home Magazine. She is currently dreaming of an around-the-world trip with her Boston terrier. Check out her website at www.jenniferbillock.com and follow her on Twitter @jenniferbillock.