A variety of sculptures adorn the famed pedestrian walkway in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
The Malecón has been called the heart of Puerto Vallarta. This seaside pedestrian walkway is lined with restaurants and shops and is full of activity day and night. Placed in various spots along the promenade, beautiful statues add to the already spectacular views of Banderas Bay. The photograph above shows part of the “Origin and Destination” sculpture by Pedro Torres Tello. It is located near the north end of the Malecón.
The “Boy on a Seahorse” is located on top of the Puerto Vallarta sign, a favourite location for by selfie photos. Created by Rafael Zamarripa Castañeda in 1976, it was the first statue to be erected on the Malecón. I told the story about its creation as a replica of an earlier piece he did in the post Strolling the Puerto Vallarta Malecon.
“La Nostalgia” by Jose Ramiz Barquet became part of the seaside boardwalk in 1984. It is symbol of universal love inspired by the artist’s own love story. He and a woman he’d met as a young man planned to marry, but it was not to be. Twenty-seven years later, after they’d gone separate ways, married other people, and had three and four children respectively, they met again. They married and lived in Puerto Vallarta.
“The Friendship Fountain” or “Dancing Dolphins Fountain” was created in 1987 by James “Bud” Bottoms of Santa Barbara, California and Octavio González Gutiérrez of Puerto Vallarta. At times when I walked by, the top dolphin shot out a small stream of water. At other times, the fountain was off. Puerto Vallarta and Santa Barbara became sister cities in 1973 and the cities have participated in a variety of exchanges. James Bottoms created a similar sculpture “Bicentennial Friendship Fountain” in Santa Barbara.
“Triton and Mermaid” was created by Carlos Espino in 1990. You may also see it referred to as “Neptune and the Nereid.” Although the artist named it “Triton and Mermaid”, it was inaugurated as “Neptune and the Nereid.”
“The Roundabout of the Sea” by Alejando Colunga is perhaps better known by its Spanish name “La Rotonda del Mar”. It was erected in 1996 and features stylized creatures that become chairs. Different shadings in the metal show where people have tried out the chairs. This is an intriguing, often-photographed sculpture that could be considered magical, creepy or weird depending on your perspective.
“Searching for Reason” by Sergio Bustamante is another favourite sculpture for photographs. You may have to wait in line for your turn to climb partway up the ladder in the sculpture for your photo op. The sculpture was inaugurated in 2000 and features pillow-headed creatures climbing, searching, and reaching out for answers.
“The Millenia” by Mathis Lidice was erected in 2001. It sits just off the Malecón beside Hotel Rosita by the sea where ships loaded and unloaded prior to the creation of the harbour area in the 1960s. The piece was created to celebrate the new millennium. It symbolizes the passage of time starting with life-giving waves at the base. Various historical figures are carved up the spiral representing the process of evolution. At the top is a woman reaching out to a dove representing a hope for the peace that has so far eluded mankind.
“The Subtle Stone Eater” looks whimsical or creepy depending on your point of view. This sculpture made me smile, but some people react to it with immediate distaste. The 7.5-foot tall sculpture was created by Jonás Gutiérrez in 2006. Negative emotions are like stones we swallow through life.
“Eriza-Dos (Standing on End)” is rustic-looking sculpture of two sea urchins created by Blu Maritza Vasquez in 2007.
“The Good Fortune Unicorn”, created by Aníbal Riebeling in 2011, is said to bring good luck to the city and anyone who touches it.
The statue of well-known Guadalajara-born golfer Lorena Ochoa was created by González Gutiérrez in 2012. Now retired, she was the first Mexican golfer to rank #1 in the world.
My personal favourite sculpture is the “Vallarta Dancers”, which was donated to the city by its artist Jim Demetro in 2006. It was inspired by a performance of the “Mexican Hat Dance” by the Xiutla dance troupe. The Xiutla Folkloric Dance and Ballet Troup has been in existence since 1974. On Friday evenings November through April, they do free performances in Lazaro Cardenas Park in the Romantic Zone. The performance is well worth taking in. It starts at 7:30 pm, but I recommend getting there at least an hour early to get a seat.
Jim Demetro is a sculptor from the United States who lives half the year in Puerto Vallarta. He has several other sculptures on display in Puerto Vallarta, including “Ándale Bernardo” (the burro sculpture) in Lazaro Cardena Park, and “The Washerwoman” by the wall of the Molino de Aqua Condominium. In 2017, he and his wife opened Demetro Galeria on Lazaro Cardenas across from the park. The gallery showcases his work as well the work of some of Vallarta’s best artists and offers space for his sculpting classes. His daughter Christina works with him on a number of pieces. One of those pieces was added to Malecón on June 1, 2018 to celebrate Puerto Vallarta’s 100th birthday.
“The Fishermen” consists of a man and a small boy, sleeping by the pier, with a dog, cat and pelican all interested in the fish the man and boy have caught. When I visited Puerto Vallarta in February 2018, he was working on the life-size piece in his gallery. It was initially sculpted in clay before being cast in bronze. The public had the opportunity to participate in and support the project. For a donation, you could add a piece of clay to the sculpture. The artists then smoothed out the “bumps” created by the various bits of clay before the bronze casting.
There are a few other sculptures along the Malecón and in other parts of town. Gary Thompson, owner of Galeria Pacifico offers a free Malecón sculpture tour Tuesday mornings at 9:30 am from mid-November through mid-April. Participants need not preregister. The tour starts at the Millenia Sculpture at the north end of the Malecón. The tour ends at Galeria Pacifico. Gary also does a sunset sculpture tour on Thursday evenings. It starts at 6:00 pm at Galeria Pacifico and ends at Demetro Galeria. More information on Puerto Vallarta’s sculptures can be found here.
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