One of the most popular pastimes in Puerto Vallarta for both locals and visitors alike is walking the Malecón. After twenty three years of living in Mexico and Beyond my husband and I still gravitate to this beautiful ocean front pedestrian walkway. After all, Puerto Vallarta is where our "nomadic" life began and it is also where we have chosen to settle. This posting is consequently about Puerto Vallarta's Malecón and its fantastic sculptures.
Before we go any further I would like to explain exactly what a Malecón is since it might not be a term commonly known. So here goes: Malecón is a word used in Spanish-speaking countries, and especially in nations of Latin America, for a stone-built embankment or esplanade along a waterfront. Well known Malecóns include the Malecón in Havana in Cuba, the Malecón in Guayaquil, Ecuador, the Malecón Center in the Dominican Republic, and the malecóns in Mazatlán, Campeche, and Veracruz, Mexico. Now we can get back to business in Puerto Vallarta!
The Malecón in Puerto Vallarta is a 12-block esplanade or boardwalk in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico. Since it was re-designed approximately eight years ago the Malecón has become the focal point of Puerto Vallarta's downtown area which encourages tourists and locals to mingle. The Malecon is again the social heart of the Puerto Vallarta "village."
When the Malecon was redesigned a total of three-hundred Foxtail Palms were introduced and planted in a marine shaped inspired planter to generate shade. Additionally, a romantic atmosphere was created through the "The Moonlight effect" of lighting and it became a place where locals and tourists can mingle under the local vegetation with a view on the ocean, both day and night. This lighting strategy also avoids the disturbance of the local ecosystem including the sea turtles hatching on the beach.
The redesigned Puerto Vallarta Malecon has also maintained its local character by embracing the traditional river stone paving technique with a design inspired by local Huichol culture. This design is referred to as the "Mosaico Vallarta" and was inspired by a masterpiece commissioned to the prominent Huichol artist, Fidenzio Benitez, in which the artist narrates the "Origin of Vallarta: A Place where Motherland and Ocean Meets."
Along the Malecon are a collection of fabulous bronze sculptures including the following which are some of my favorite:
The Millennia Statue by Mathis Lidice 2001
The piece was created to celebrate the new millennium and is full of symbolism and meaning.
The Millennia statue by Mathis Lidice is a spiraling sculpture that represents the passage of time, starting off with the origin of life and ending in the hope for the future: peace. On the spiral sculpture, you'll find animal evolution, Charlemagne wielding a sword, Netzahualcoyotl and a woman stretching up to the future. Millennia was inaugurated in its present location on October 31st, 2001 (Happy Halloween!). A stunning work with a message.
This group of sculptures entitled "Origin and Destination" represents the beginnings of humanity, music, time and knowledge. The boat represents mankind's quest for new horizons. In the second sculpture, a chimera, symbolizes humanity's unity with reptiles, birds and marine animals, with musical notes that represent the harmony existing between them. The final sculpture is an obelisk, representing humanity's spirituality. The obelisk contains an hours glass filled with sand, a symbol of the transience of the present. This definitely deserves a big bravo!
Nostalgia by Ramiz Barquet 1984
Next along our walk is "Nostalagia by Mexican artist Ramiz Barquet who created a loving couple sitting side by side on a white granite bench, looking dreamily towards the sea, mountains, town and life with immense joy and love that lasted through time and finally became a reality. This sculpture is also one of the first that was placed on the Malecon in 1984. Definitely an oldie, but goodie.
The Subtle Rock Eater Jonás Gutiérrez 2006
On the Malecon you will find an interesting and strange sculpture named the Subtle Rock Eater by Guadalajara artist Jonás Gutiérrez. It is eight feet high sculpted in bronze and obsidian which shows us a friendly and funny man. Jonás' works mostly inhabit an alternate reality, more dreamlike than down-to-earth, more scary or disturbing than your average sculpture. One thing is certain, they are never dull, but unique with a personal style which stands out.
The Good Fortune Unicorn by Aníbal Riebeling 2011
On January the 16th 2011 one of the newest sculptures on the Malecon was inaugurated entitled "The Good Fortune Unicorn" by the Guadalajara artist Aníbal Riebeling. The sculpture is approximately ten feet tall and four feet long and is sculpted in a stylized and wavy form, maybe to better fuse with the surrounding sea? The sculpture was inspired by the ancient legend that unicorns are good luck charms and bring good fortune to those that possess one.
Triton and Mermaid by Carlos Espino (1990)
Triton and Mermaid by Carlos Espino concentrates on the human form and classical Greek mythology which can clearly be appreciated in this piece. It depicts Triton, a merman, and son of Poseidon, and Amphitrite, goddess of the sea and mermaid.
A little local dispute: "The name of the sculpture is and should always have been Triton and Mermaid, and for some unknown reason, despite authorship and intellectual property rights (plus a total lack of knowledge in Greek and Roman mythology), local authorities changed the name to "Neptune and the Nereid" when inaugurating this statue on the Malecon. We respectfully disagree and will keep on calling the sculpture as the artist established it." Bravo!
The Roundabout of the Sea by Alejandro Colunga 1996
The Roundabout of the Sea was created by Alejandro Colunga, a self-taught painter and sculptor from Guadalajara. You'll also find his statues, with the same concept, around Guadalajara and Zapopan. Eight monumental high-backed bronze chairs offering exaggerated human anatomy, surrealism, fantasy and nautical imagery. An "interactive sculpture," strange and surreal chairs full of weirdness and magic await visitors on the Malecon to have a seat and relax if you don't find them somewhat creepy!
Searching for Reason by Sergio Bustamante 2000
Searching for Reason by Mexican artist Sergio Bustamante is a very distinctive statue with pillow headed figures and a ladder which they are climbing in search of answers while striving farther and above the normal limits of humanity. People like to climb up this statue and have their photograph taken which is fine just as long as they don't fall off during the photo shoot. On the other hand, I definitely prefer being rooted to the ground! Without doubt, this is one of the most impressive sculptures on the Malecon.
The Boy on the Little Seahorse by Rafael Zamarripa 1976
Rafael Zamarripa's famous "The Boy on the Little Seahorse" statue on the Malecón has become a symbol of Puerto Vallarta which is now in a new location with better space and stairs to sit around it. It is approximately 10 feet high and is a replica of the statue that was placed initially on a group of rocks called "Las Pilitas" at the end of Los Muertos Beach. When it was knocked over by the waves and strong winds in 1976 the artist replaced it with a new version which is now located near the old Lighthouse on the Malecon.
The Friendship Dancing Dolphins Fountain 1987
Behind the arches on the Malecon you'll find this popular sculpture which was created by James “Bud” Bottoms together with Octavio Gonzalez Gutierrez in 1987. Puerto Vallarta and Santa Barbara, California have been sister cities since 1972 and Santa Barbara's sculptor James Bottoms designed this fountain with three leaping dolphins inspired by a Chumash Indian legend.
Vallarta Dancers by Jim Demetro, 2006
Adding to the statues and sculptures in Puerto Vallarta, one that catches the eye is Jim Demetro's dancing figures, the movement, the size and the colors all make it very special. It is also one, if not the, most photographed sculpture in town. Jim Demetro was first inspired to create this impressive sculpture in the year 2000 when he witnessed the Xiutla dance troupe performing the "Jarabe Tapatío" (Mexican Hat Dance) on the Malecon.
Ándale Bernardo" by Jim Demetro (2014)
The newest of the sculptures in Puerto Vallarta is a new creation by Jim Demetro, a sculpture that mixes the old traditions of the miners and the Mexican spirit of the town. "Ándale Bernardo!" (Come on Bernardo!) is the culmination of more than 2 years of work by the artist which is now part of Lázaro Cárdenas Park located just off the Malecon.
The sculpture depicts two boys, one with a carrot, another pushing a stubborn burro (donkey), and a "helping" dog. The sculpture is intended to be interactive so tourists and locals will be able to climb on the back and get their photo taken. What's a trip to Vallarta without a photo riding on a burro!
For those who would like to learn about or visit the most famous Malecóns in Mexico go to the following link and check out the following top eight Malecóns in the country which include:
- Malecón de Mazatlán
- Malecón de PuertoVallarta
- Malecón de La Paz
- Malecón de Veracruz
- Malecón de Manzanillo
- Malecon of Puerto Peñasco
- Malecón de Campeche
- Malecón de Cozumel
PS I am trying a new AI (Artificial Intelligence) creation by Google and want to see if the following link works. Open with full screen for viewing. What do you think?