For our last few weeks in Mexico, we decided to spend the time living in San Miguel de Allende. We had visited the city before, back in November. And we knew that there were plenty of things to do in San Miguel de Allende for families.
In all honesty, it was a toss up between Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende, in terms of where we would spend our final weeks in Mexico. We loved the fact that not very many foreign tourists visit Guanajuato, and it truly felt like a city where we could live. But at the same time, we knew that a few traveling families we know live in San Miguel de Allende. We were looking forward meeting up with them again before we left Mexico.
We ultimately chose San Miguel de Allende. Part of the reason why we chose San Miguel de Allende was its intimate feel and romantic looking streets. But another reason was to experience the San Miguel de Allende art once again.
This post was updated on May 25, 2020.
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Artful living in San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende is popular among art lovers. There are dozens of private galleries throughout the city selling San Miguel de Allende art. In addition, the Mercado Artesanal in the center of town sells a variety of traditional local art. The city is known for being an artist colony.
Our observations from living in San Miguel de Allende, and other parts of Mexico, for the past six months have shown us how artful and creative Mexican culture is. Art finds its way into many aspects of Mexican culture: the colorful piñatas during the holidays, the lively music and singing, and the multi-colored artwork of the indigenous groups.
The Mexico guide book from Lonely Planet may has many suggestions for how to experience Mexican culture. While there are many art galleries and museums you can choose to visit in San Miguel de Allende, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite. Here are four unique places to experience San Miguel de Allende art.
Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramierez El Nigromante
The Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramirez El Nigromante is a great place to view public San Miguel de Allende art. The center was once a convent, and was later converted into an accredited art school.
These days, the Centro Cultural contains art galleries with rotating exhibits that are open to the public. The building is laid out around a central courtyard, and there are several beautiful murals that line the wall. One room at the Centro Cultural even contains an unfinished mural by David Alfaro Siqueiros. Despite never being completed, the geometric patterns and lines of the mural give it a unique and interesting feel.
The Centro Cultural is free to enter. There is a cafe in the building, so art lovers who are living in San Miguel de Allende often come to the Center Cultural to view art and have a snack or coffee.
The Mask Museum
Located near the Mercado Artesanal, the Mask Museum is the private collection of Bill LeVasseur. It’s located in the bed and breakfast that Bill owns, and is open for viewing by appointment only. Admission is 100 pesos per person.
The museum contains over 500 masks. Bill, who has been living in San Miguel de Allende for almost two decades, enjoys collecting masks used by the various cultures throughout Mexico, and learning about the stories and traditions behind those masks.
His wife, Heidi, is also a collector, but of the folk art variety. Her gallery of San Miguel de Allende art features works by various indigenous and Mexican artist. The gallery is also located at the bed and breakfast.
The Chapel of Jimmy Ray, an art gallery of an expat living in San Miguel de Allende
When it comes to unique places to see San Miguel de Allende art, the Chapel of Jimmy Ray takes the cake! The Chapel of Jimmy Ray is actually not a chapel, but an art gallery. It’s the private home of artist, Anado McLauchlin, located outside of San Miguel de Allende, in the village of La Cieneguita.
Anado has been living in San Miguel de Allende and its surroundings for 18 years. His property is sprawling, with beautifully decorated buildings serving as art galleries and unique sculptures and mosaic murals through the grounds. There’s even a bathroom with a composting toilet that is bedecked inside and out with mosaic art.
Anado is a welcoming host and guide, and clearly loves sharing his art with others. We even had a chance to peek inside his home and workshop! Call ahead to set up an appointment for a tour of the Chapel of Jimmy Ray, and expect to pay a donation of 100 pesos per person.
Fabrica La Aurora
One of the places we wished we could have spent more time in is the Fabrica La Aurora. It’s a former textile factory that has since been converted to a cultural arts and design center. The center is a great place to see local art, and art from throughout Mexico.
La Aurora hosts art workshops and classes. There are also art galleries, furniture shops, and cafes throughout its grounds. We loved walking through the halls of the actual factory building and seeing parts of the old factory on display. And it’s just a fun place to hang out if you’re living in San Miguel de Allende.
Experiencing San Miguel de Allende art
Our time living in San Miguel de Allende made us appreciate art so much. We loved walking through the public galleries and seeing beautiful works of art. We even enjoyed seeing the art in stores and cafes!
The joy of travel is that it helps you enjoy unique aspects of life. In San Miguel de Allende, we learned to appreciate creativity and self-expression.
Have you experienced art while visiting or living in San Miguel de Allende? Share your experiences in the comments!
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