Given the 330 to 350 days of sunshine enjoyed annually in Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo – the two cape cities are part of the larger Los Cabos municipality – it might seem as if the area lacks a great deal of seasonal variety. That may be true in terms of climate. But it's not true in regards to the many seasonally-based activities and shopping opportunities available to visitors.
Whale watching excursions, swimming with whale sharks tours and sea turtle conservation programs each have their season in Los Cabos, as in a sense do art and culture. San José del Cabo’s Art Walk, a celebration and showcase for the city’s thriving arts community, runs every Thursday evening from November through June.
During this season, visitors are invited to stroll the cobblestone streets and browse the fine arts galleries in the historic Distrito del Arte (Art District).
The evocatively lit Casa Dahlia represents many of the Baja peninsula's top contemporary artists — Photo courtesy of Casa Dahlia
The weekly event, which takes place from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., typically features live music; wine and cheese tasting; and an opportunity to view the work of some of the country’s best painters and sculptors and to interact with local artists in their own studios and galleries.
The Art Walk is also, it must be said, a showcase for San José del Cabo. Unlike its nearby neighbor Cabo San Lucas – best known for its big-game fishing and roisterous nightlife – San José (The del Cabo, which means “of the cape” in Spanish, is typically dropped in conversations among local residents.) is a place of historical importance, with sophisticated charms.
Not only is it the seat of local government, but also the city boasts many beautiful colonial-style buildings, and the sort of architecture and monuments – like a Catholic church that was completed on its present site in 1940, but whose birth dates back to the founding of an early Jesuit mission in 1734 – that are unknown in San Lucas, which until fifty years ago boasted little more than a cannery.
San José is also, quietly, home to many of the region’s best restaurants.
Sophisticated shoppers seeking quality works of traditional and contemporary Mexican art will love the Art Walk, which serves as an introduction to the finest galleries in the Distrito del Arte. Traditional Mexican folk art, glassware and jewelry is on display at La Sacristía, and Mata Ortiz Gallery offers stunning examples of a style of pottery that goes back over a thousand years, but was reinvigorated by modern Chihuahua master Juan Quezada.
Contemporary Mexican artists, meanwhile, are ably represented at Casa Dahlia, Patricia Mendoza Art Gallery and Galería de Ida Victoria, the latter of which is also home to the region’s finest custom framing studio. Dharmesh Anand specializes in “sacred abstract art,” while Muvezi features striking work from Shona stone sculptors in Zimbabwe.
Afterwards, “art walkers” often adjourn for drinks or dinner at one of downtown area’s many fine bars and restaurants. Baja Brewing Company, the state’s first microbrewery, is a particularly popular Art District watering hole.
This year, as for the past five, Art Walk’s opening was contemporaneous with “Art and Altar” showings in honor of the Day of the Dead, a Latin American holiday that remembers departed friends and family.
But the fact that the opening happened on time was a testament to the living, to the local residents that helped clean and repair and reopen businesses following Hurricane Odile, which devastated a good deal of the region when it made landfall on Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. San José del Cabo was particularly hit hard, but the local community showed its spirit, rebounding to start one of its signature tourist season events on time.
If the old maxim is true, and challenging times do indeed breed the best art, then this will be a great season to shop in the galleries of San José del Cabo.