Art in Los Cabos: ruining the secret for everyone

When I think “Cabo,” I don’t think art … at least, I didn’t. A few paces into the San Jose del Cabo’s historic art district however, I felt my mind begin to shift. Galleries line Guerrero, Obregon, Morelos and Comonfort, each ready to invite you in for a look at the creations of artists local to Los Cabos (and Mexico in general). Don’t look for the schlock you’d find at a tourist trap in this part of the city – these artists are talented and experienced. Many of the galleries show investment-grade pieces and are priced appropriately.

Of course, there are bargains to be had in the art district. Traditionally, buyers are split between vacationers and people with second homes in Los Cabos, the latter usually looking to occupy the spaces of newly developed escapes. The art market shock that occurred last September has affected both classes of buyer. Fewer are traveling, as well, which has impacted guest purchases, and local property development has come virtually to a standstill as a result of the global credit crisis, leaving fewer walls to adorn. These unfortunate circumstances have brought buyers’ market conditions down to Baja California Sur … and the galleries are more than happy to ship your new acquisitions back to the United States.

Despite the plethora of high-caliber artwork in San Jose del Cabo, choose carefully. There are 16 galleries in the art district, and the quality does vary. Price does not always signify value. If you’re looking to make life easy, just head right to Galeria Corsica, on Obregon (between Hidalgo and Morelos). The gallery space itself is hardly impressive – especially by the standards of major art centers like Manhattan, London and Paris – but, the inventory is impressive.

The collection at Galeria Corsica transcends local. Consisting of both sculpture and paintings, you’ll encounter museum-quality artwork from the moment you cross the threshold.

Works in bronze are sculpted for impact, with intricate detail uniting the labor of the craftsman with the vision of an artist. Emotion emanates from each of the pieces on display, sharing the agony of creation with the aesthetically-minded. Just by looking, you participate in a birthing process baptized in the sweat of a master.

Along the walls, flat art captures the eye. There isn’t a single style that prevails, but each artist has his own space, ensuring that the flow of the gallery isn’t disrupted. I gravitated to the front corner, just to the right of the door as you enter. The room housed paintings that blend the mystical and surreal with a crispness that helps the viewer relate to the messages conveyed. Sensuality is not lost in the swirl of sensations to which the artist treats anyone fortunate enough to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

Los Cabos may have a reputation as a party destination, but the choice ultimately is yours. Catch a taxi into San Jose del Cabo and make it a priority to visit the art galleries … specifically Galeria Corsica. Whether you collect or just like to watch, your jones for the aesthetic will not go unsatisfied.

Disclosure: The Los Cabos Tourism Board picked up the tab for this trip. But, if you know me, you know I don’t do anyone favors. The opinions are definitely my own.

Celebrate the Francis Bacon centennial, starting in Madrid

Reclusive, crazy and not as prolific as most other artists, Francis Bacon produced only around 1,000 paintings before his death. Around the world, his pieces appear one or two at a time, but few have the resources or reason to assemble a large retrospective. This year, that changes.

One hundred years ago, Francis Bacon was born. For his centennial, exhibitions are rumored to be planned at London’s Tate and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. But, I was surprised to see a large sign as I walked along the Paseo del Prado last week: Francis Bacon. Until April 19, 2009, you’ll be able to witness the progression of this genius’s work over four decades, with a collection of unusual breadth and depth (take a closer look here).

This is an interesting time for Francis Bacon. Last year, his work was among the hottest in the world, with Russian energy figure Roman Abramovich dropping $86.3 million on a triptych painted in 1976. Not even a full year later, the art market is in turmoil, and the auction houses are unable to move Bacon’s work, it seems, at any price. It feels like a sad undercurrent to what should be a year of celebration, but New York artist Nelson Diaz disagrees.
Diaz appears to be downright prophetic, having protested the art market’s ascent with a political statement via eBay last summer. At the time, he explained that Bacon would have been disgusted with the high prices that his work fetched. Nelson’s protest is over, but it does make rich background for what should be a year of Francis Bacon retrospectives around the world.

In the video below, Nelson explains last summer’s project and its connection to Francis Bacon. If you’re looking to the future, his latest project is “The Isolated Christ.”

Whether you stop by the Tate, Met or Museo del Prado to enjoy the Francis Bacon centennial, keep this back-story in mind. It changes everything you’ll see.