“Free” doesn’t often translate into “good,” especially for those who subscribe to the theory that “You get what you pay for.” But in this case, the Tuesday morning Malecón sculpture tour by Gary Thompson of Galeria Pacifico, “free” is great.
Every Tuesday at 9:30 am (from November 8, 2011, to April 17, 2012) Gary shows up at the Millennia Sculpture at the north end of the Malecón, just seaside of the Rosita Hotel and begins a two hour walking tour of the assorted bronze sculptures along this Vallarta beach.
There is absolutely no cost for this tour although Gary does occasionally suggest that people tip the sand sculptors and sky guys along the way. The walk isn’t hard, but it’s long and if the weather is hot, it’s a bit strenuous for the slower among us. Gary is quick and sharp, knowledgeable and humorous. He has lived in Vallarta for over 30 years and has run the Galeria Pacifico on Aldama in Centro for 20+ years.
Gary Thompson has been hosting this tour for three years. It had originally been conceived of as a tour of artists’ studios, but that concept fell by the wayside as quickly as the artists forgot the dates of the tour and drowsily and in their pajamas greeted the tourists that Gary had in tow.
The talk/tour starts off with artist Mathis Lidice (real name, Fernando Baños) describing and discussing for about 15 minutes his massive landmark Millennia sculpture. Then the trek begins.
Each main sculpture on the Malecón is discussed as the tour stops before it, either by Gary or his volunteer assistant, Cathy Morrow. Even the InfoArte computers with bronzes atop are given passing mention. Gary’s method is relaxed and humorous and he provides many background details no guide book could possibly include. Gossip and scandal and human interest intersect at each stop. He discusses the artists as much or more than the sculptures, as he should, since their souls are the life blood of the cast metal.
There is ample time for audience questions and the group spends about 5 minutes on each subject. You’ll hear how most of the artists financed their projects with donations and how drunks climb and fall off the Sergio Bustamante ladder sculpture, “In Search of the Reason” (not a recommended activity – drunkenly climbing the ladder, that is, not the search for reason).
You’ll learn of artists’ love affairs and the political intrigues surrounding some of the pieces and the protests at their installations: “Bare breasts on the Beach!?!”
But more, you will learn of the men who created these sometimes massive metal objects, and why.
For anyone who has any interest in art or Puerto Vallarta history and culture, this tour is much more than ideal. It’s more than an introduction and more than a tour. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Tuesday morning.
To take this tour no reservations are necessary. Just show up at 9:30 am Tuesday at the Millennia Sculpture on the Malecón. I wouldn’t advise bringing children (you know how they are…) and if you have trouble walking long distances, the walk may be a challenge, but it will be a challenge that you won’t forget.
- Galeria Pacifico, Aldama 174, Centro, Puerto Vallarta
- 322 222 19 82