It is only 6 miles from the hotel corridor to San Jose del Cabo, a quaint town that has worked hard to refresh its image while maintaining its authenticity and colonial flavor. It feels light years different from the very new, often renovated and mostly upscale hotel corridor. If you are looking for an authentic cultural and dining experience, San Jose del Cabo would be good to put on your must-see and must-experience list while visiting Los Cabos. Recently speaking with a representative from AmstarDMC, a destination management company located in Cabo, it seems it has succeeded at reinventing itself. There is a new marina there, more streets have been repaired and closed to automobile and other vehicular traffic, turning it into a central haven for dining, shopping and cultural fun.
When I was there a little less than two years ago, I spoke with a gentleman who is a small restaurant business owner with deep involvement in the renovations and repairs of the city. While owners of similar small businesses, almost all family-owned and run, recognized the need to update the town, they were all adamant about keeping their culture and environment intact. Again, it seems they have succeeded in allowing forward improvements while retaining the authentic flavor of the town.
On Thursday evenings there is an art walk in the Historic Art District of San Jose del Cabo. During my visit to San Jose del Cabo, our guide for the evening was provided to us by Terramar Destinations. I would recommend you consider a guide if you want to learn about tradition, lore and the history of the area. Not only entertaining and knowledgeable, your guide will make sure you see the best and most interesting experiences available in the town.
Our guide, Rico, offered insight into the history and premises the town was built upon. He entertained us with stories of the region from the 1400’s on up through today’s culture and environments. Of historical interest, this was a matriarchal society with the belief that women came from the moon and men came from the sun. Until the Jesuits arrived, the community lived in the village where all people were equal and everyone owned everything. There were no ‘this is mine, and that is yours’ attitudes. The Jesuits came and took land to build their churches, insisting the natives wear clothes, learn language, and mate only with someone they “married”. Lore has it that the women of the village did not agree with the Jesuit, preferring their polygamous ways, and within a few years took back their village and disposed of the Jesuits. We visited the mission church, that while it is not the exact building built in those early years, was built on the site of the original church.
From the church we walked through the streets of San Jose del Cabo to various stores, restaurants and art galleries. There were wine tastings, canapés, art and sculptures. I met several of the artists as well as gallery owners during this walk. There is an immense amount of talent on display during these evenings. The opportunity to purchase and even have an artist sign the purchase added to the experience.
One of the first galleries we visited was the galleria de ida victoria which contains original works of art as well as a custom, preservation frame shop. This is a husband and wife business, she with an art studies background and he with the frame studio inside the gallery. This gallery has been touted by local press to be the “finest gallery south of Los Angeles”. Occupying a tri-level building designed and built specifically to showcase emerging contemporary artists as well as established artists, even the resident cat is welcoming and artistic in her meandering through the property. The gallery is owned by Ida Victoria, who studied art at Tulane University as well as the prestigious Parsons School of Design in NYC. The frame studio is owned by Peter Signorelli. He trained at the American Picture Framing Academy in Connecticut under well-known “Gorilla Framer”, Paul Casico. After studying with Margaret Walters, a professional preservation framer in Taos, NM, he helped to build the gallery and framing studio. They have a huge roster of artists who hold nearly continuous showings, with almost all pieces being available for purchase. Ida and Peter are also available for private home consultation for those interested in collecting and preserving a variety of art. Art works from the gallery.
Also on the walk that evening was the Corsica Galeria De Arte, founded by Jean Pierre Renucci and Jose A. Villavicencio in 2001. Corsica is located at Alvaro Obregon 10 in downtown San Jose del Cabo. This gallery team is dedicated to promoting the works of contemporary Mexican artists. While members of the team are diverse, they share a passion for art and the determination to make it accessible to everyone. Art Works from this gallery.
Another gallery, Muvezi owned by Marcelo Pradas, centers around fine African art. They represent 200 Shona artists, chosen from thousands, who are recognized s the world’s finest stone sculptors. Muvezi is working to save lives with art by providing the stones and the supply of tools needed for the Shona stone sculptures, as well as malarial medication to the artists, their families and beyond. Through fair trade purchase of the contemporary art pieces Muvezi helps to fund and improve the lives of the Shona artists and their families. Gallery art works.
As we wandered the streets of the village we visited several stores, one in which I tasted a sweet Vanilla liqueur (VAI-NIUM Licor de Vanilla) and saw handmade shawls and cloths woven with intricate designs. There were jewelry shops, home decor shops, shops filled with glass and stone. Our guide knew where the best shopping bargains, as well as the best quality goods, were located.
While all the galleries had canapés, wine and other refreshments being served, several restaurants offered tasty drinks and other snacks for the art walk evening. One we visited, La panga antigua, was quite delightful. The owner/chef is Jacobo Turquie, a graduate from the Culinary Institute of America. The dinner menu looked good enough to eat, accompanied by an extensive wine list . If you can only arrange your schedule for lunch, the lunch menu looked equally enticing. The slide show below shows the beautifully decorated interior and I can personally vouch for the Margaritas!
For a delightful evening before making your dining selection, I recommend the Art Walk through the Historic Art District of San Jose del Cabo. There is much to see and do in this historic town and is definitely on the do not miss list.
For more info:
About Amstar Destination Management Company: Amstar destination management company are dedicated to providing exceptional destination services and products to individuals, groups, corporations, tour operators and meeting planners. AMSTAR DGT CANCUN, S.A. de C.V. first opened its office doors in 1990 in Cancun, Mexico with a pioneering staff of 20. Amstar dmc, S.A. was created in the Dominican Republic in 2003 and opened its corporate headquarters in Punta Cana in the same year. Both companies celebrated openings of new, state-of-the-art offices, further enhancing AMSTAR’s ability to achieve its mission of being the leading provider of destination services in their respective locations.
About Terramar DMC: The mission of Terramar Destination is dedication to providing the best services in all the destinations they serve, equal to or better then industry standards worldwide. Their mission consists of ensuring that every client experiences our “Unparalleled Service” first hand with the vision of exceeding our market leadership through continuous improvement. Terramar serves Las Cabos, Loreto, Puerto Vallarta and Punta Mita, with its headquarters in Los Cabos, Mexico. They have been in business seventeen years, with hands-on management and constant innovative growth. Terramar is a stable company originating from a solid financial base, intelligent resource management, reinvestment into the company’s future and the dedicated, caring service from a staff with years of experience working as a team.
From USA & Canada: 01 877 329-4461
From Mexico: 01 800 267-8270
From rest of the world: + 52 998 881-9507
Owned and operated by Kim Clapham
Corsica Galeria de Arte
Muvezi Fine African art
La panga antigua
Tel: (624) 142 4041
Zaragoza #20 Col. Centro
San Jose del Cabo, B.C.S.
Note: Originally written for the National Romance Travel Examiner column, this article was also in print and online with Mexico Living Guide, July 2009 issue. It has been revised and updated for 2011 by the author.