The Sounds and Colors of Baja California
A Seascape from Polo's Fine Art Gallery
After all these years of living on the peninsula, I've never found an end to the amazing colors and sounds that Baja has to offer. From Tijuana's new image of fine art, music and sidewalk bistros, to the high end art galleries of Cabo San Lucas, there are hidden riches of art and music found everywhere in between.
In the late 80's when Rosarito Beach still had dirt streets, my sister took me to a hidden place off the main road. She loved the little Mexican bar near the beach. Walking in, the place was packed. Two casually dressed men were seated on the small stage, guitars resting in their arms. They looked at one another, strummed together and burst into Guadalajara. The crowd was silent as the two master guitarist filled the night with their fiery strings. It was Miguel De Hoyos playing with his father who had taught him. Since that time Miguel De Hoyos has joined with the master violinist, Alex Depue and together they travel the world with their stunning performances. You might happen upon them playing at small restaurant venues in northern Baja south of Rosarito. This creative passion does not stop with Miguel. His sister, Lucilla De Hoyos, is a well known painter and her husband Francisco Cabello is famous for his sensuous large canvas Tango dancers and bistro life.
South of Rosarito is artist alley. Grouped together near Fox Studio, Polo's Gallery is a must visit. Here you will find fine art and the best of the best showing. Names like Najera Loero with his intense wild horses leaping from the canvas. Polo Valencia paints the gentle seascapes, BeCruis captures the sunlight washing the humble life of the fisherman. The list is long; Juan Castillo, Acosta, Vico, D. Silva and so many more. One artist shows how even a bone skull can be turned into fine art using the media of seed beading. Even through economic hardship, the artist can not stop creating. There is a true gift for the community, when artists flourish. Even when leaving the metropolitan areas behind in northern Baja, southern Baja has many hidden surprises along the way. Todos Santos on the Pacific side recreated itself as an artist haven which is complimented by their famous jazz festival. The colors of southern Pacific are captured in the paintings of Nancy Pridham in the small fishing village of Ascunsion. The light, impossible to describe, is faithfully captured by Nancy's brush. She is now showing in Cabo San Lucas.
Mermaid Mosaic by Maria Eggeton
Recently, during the holidays, I attended an art exhibition in Mulege. Soft sounds of a flute moved through the garden patio that was filled with artists animated with the sharing of their work. It was surprisingly well attended for the pueblo. I was astounded at the scope of Maria Eggeton's mosaic work, the hostess of the day's event. German born, she found her way to Mulege 30 years ago and her art grew naturally from the earth and sea of the gulf of California. She has taken the craft of mosaic into the realm of fine art. Her pieces are set in concrete and can be eight feet tall, requiring immense man power to lift. Tiny chips of cut glass, some recycled windshield glass, work into magnificent movement of color and flashes of light. For today's event the flautist, Karen Lynne Deal, entertains, but in fact is actually a symphony conductor. She has brought to the community a lifetime of study and deep passion for the great masters. As I walk through the art forms and fine jewelry, I realize this is not a unique experience found in Baja California. A friend of mine, Horacio Gonzalos, director of Terra Peninsular in Ensenada, said with a twinkle in his eye, "Baja California is much more than the margarita."
Recently, on a clear star studded night of the Christmas week the locals living along the Bay of Conception were given a rare treat. The clear operatic voice of Carla Acosta combined with Karen Deal's flute sent out a song of Oh Holy Night to the silent hills and dark waters. Carla, a young woman in her 30s is one of only fifteen opera singers invited to Mexico City this year. It was said that on this very night, a humpback whale swam into the bay near the restaurant and was so taken by the sacred sounds of the music, it flung its giant body out of the water, breaching uncountable times.
Every night as sunlight withdraws from the Gulf region, there are intense changing colors painting both sea and sky in pinks and blues. The palm trees rustle softly with the roosting vultures and the Zzz Zzz of hummingbirds' wings is heard coming to the feeder for their last sip of nectar. All colors withdraw. The first star is seen in the darkened sky. It is very quiet. But like the sun, the artists will continue to create their gifts of art and music, capturing life's unique experiences in Baja California.