Los Cabos, Mexico, may evoke wild nights, but the area is also bursting with art and culture.
You can’t help but think of blaring music, blurry minds and general debauchery when you think of Cabo San Lucas. After all, it is the site of all of the best “Laguna Beach” meltdowns and plot twists.
But I’m here to tell you that that smeared mascara and in-pool bars are not all this city, and the surrounding region, has to offer. With a healthy art scene, including a growing film festival, Los Cabos has the potential to be so much more than just a place to party.
This November marked the fifth annual Cabo San Lucas Film Festival, which aims to be a “Celebration during which borders disappear for the collaboration and coexistence of the Mexican, American, Canadian and other important film industries,” says Lordes Berho, the director of the Tourism Board of Mexico. With programming that features Mexican Filmmakers, documentaries that highlight environmental causes and Mexican premiers of international films, the festival is one that works towards making Mexico a new cinematic hub.
Though the film festival happens once a year, the creative community in Cabo is alive year-round. About 45 minutes outside of Cabo San Lucas is the city of San Jose del Cabo, a historical city that is home to a vibrant and diverse art community. The Gallery District of San Jose del Cabo is a group of 14 galleries within walking distance of each other. The group hosts a monthly art walk that highlights the galleries and celebrates the local creative community, featuring abstract contemporary art, traditional Mexican work and affordable local crafts.
The 14-year-old association is run by the group’s president, Patricia Mendoza, who is is also the owner of her eponymous gallery. The gallery includes a mixture of contemporary Mexican artists and old masters. One highlight in her collection is the work of Eduardo Mejorada, a native of Guadalajara who is an abstract expressionist and a newer addition to her roster of artists.
Many artists in San Jose both work and live on the grounds of their galleries, such as Frank Arnold, owner of the Frank Arnold Gallery. Arnold primarily shows his own work in his highly modern, almost industrial gallery space. The abstract paintings and sculptures have been shown in Mexico as well as the U.S.
Down the street you can find the Ivan Guaderrama Gallery, where the pieces are truly interactive. Engineer and artist Guaderrama creates pieces that are accessible (you are encouraged to touch the art), and many pieces employ various sensors that cause the pieces to play music and light up with kinetic force.
Though many of the galleries on the walk are Mexican-owned, Casa Dahlia’s proprietor is Pacific Northwest ex-pat Leah Porter. Porter represents artists from Mexico, Canada and the Pacific Northwest. Her airy and beautiful space showcases minimal pieces that express her love of the outdoors, in both her own and her artist’s work.
Your creative experience in Los Cabos does not have to stop at the art walk. If you want to immerse yourself in Mexico’s creative culture, stay at Hotel El Ganzo, the region’s only art hotel. Along with pop-art murals and vibrant interior décor, the hotel actively nurtures relationships with local and international artists and musicians, often allowing them to use the hotel as their own canvas (make sure to catch the Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka mural at the front entrance.)
The vision of the hotel is that it would become “an epicenter for cultural arts” and it is well on it’s way to succeeding. Recent visitors to the hotel include Mexican singer-songwriter Natalia Lafourcade, who recorded parts of her newest album in the hotel’s recording studio. The hotel also hosts a residency program for visual artists to create pieces to showcase in the hotel. Most recently, they housed Mexico-born and internationally renowned artist Pedro Reyes.
Your nights may be booked on your next trip to Los Cabos, but don’t miss the vibrant creative community this party town has to offer. You will not be disappointed.