Ceremonial masks and colorful Oaxacan animals are the focus of the last two shops on this gallery tour. Puerto Vallarta is justly famous not only for its tropical beaches and colonial charm, but also for its fabulous native art collections. Take home an authentic ethnographic piece of Mexico, not just a tourist tchotchke made in China.
Galeria Olinala, dance masks from all over Mexico
Fiestas and their accompanying ceremonies and parades are embedded into the folk life of Mexico. Fanciful characters strut around in extraordinary costumes with masks to match. Christian and native traditions coalesce to produce masks depicting tigers and bulls, saints and devils, patrons and hermits, Pharisees and Moors. Galeria Olinala specializes in these vintage dance masks from villages around Mexico. Most have been actually worn in ceremonial performances of various ethnic groups.
This beautifully curated collection captures it all against a backdrop of brightly painted walls, each room a different color, perhaps turquoise green, Mexican pink or jacaranda purple. The saturated colors create a delightful effect as you move from room to room. The art literally pops off the walls.
Lucy’s CuCu Cabaña & Zoo, whimsical and inexpensive
This fun shop is a great place to stock up on wooden animals from Oaxaca (pronounced wah-HAH-ka). The brightly painted carvings can be amalgamations of more than one animal to create fantastic creatures. Or they can be highly stylized interpretations of a single animal, often in contortionist poses. A relatively new tradition, Oaxacan wood carvings have become wildly popular.
Prices at this small shop are very reasonable and reflect the owners’ amusing taste in unusual handmade crafts from many states throughout Mexico.
Check out Galeria Indigena and Peyote People in part 1 of this article series.
Lucy’s CuCu Cabaña & Zoo
Basillo Badillo 295, Emiliano Zapata
Phone: +52 322 222 1220
Closed Sunday and September to mid-October and during lunch
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