Peter Gray

Best Benefactor

We're fortunate - and it's compliment to Puerto Vallarta - that this self-effacing Brit, who held an impressive job as Latin America's marketing director for Proctor & Gamble overseeing operations in 15 countries, chose to retire here.

Calling his career "a 40-year distraction" from what he really wanted to do, he digested his professional experiences in his first book, "Advertising and the Ignorant Savage," written in 1977.

Now his time and considerable talents are focusing on ensuring that Vallarta's youth, its hope for tomorrow, lead productive, culture-filled lives.

A Renaissance man, he paints and write beautifully, all the proceeds from his work going to benefit our community. The Becas scholarship fund and the Coastal University Center (CUC) have both sold his labors of love to raise funds, his 2002 book, "All is Safely Gathered In," being "a recollection in tranquility of the English country life I Lived in my more formative years."

Preferring to work behind the secenes, he volunteers with international golf tournaments and the Tous for Tots program, raises scholarship money for bright needy youth, helps with Navy League charitable projectos, represents his Conchas Chinas neighbors at City Hall, wrrites local newspaper and magazine articles and even managed to create a permanent art gallery at CUC, which was named after him.

It wasn't his idea, but as soon as getting wind of it he came up with a specific plan to make it happen. And if you  know Vallarta, yu know how refreshing that is. Demonstrating commitment, he donated 17 paingings from his personal colection as the basis for an ongoing collecion, now numbering around 30 valuable pieces thanks to the contributions of others.

He calls on every artist working or exhibiting in Puerto Vallarta to contribute and asks private collectors to give some thought to letting thousands of students enjoy a work  rather than keep it to themselves.

His fervent belief i that ecahc person can make a difference, and he crecits his Mexican wife, Buri, with teaching him that "love and generosity should be shared without restraint."

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The Peter Gray Art Museum

Published Feb 12, 2007

Delightfully Diversified and Educational

If you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and check out this charmingly eclectic collection of quality art on the University of Guadalajara campus in Vallarta's Ixtapa neighborhood, just northeast of the airport.

A gallery of substance, suffice it to say that one of the diverse works on view — a print of a 1748 sketch by xenophobic British artist Hogarth titled "O the Roast Beef of Old England" — was also a key exhibit at the Louvre recently, its importance arising from the fact that it is one of the first-ever political satires in artistic form.

Refreshingly, there is nothing commercial about this museum, so called because every one of its 70-plus works has been generously donated. That alone distinguishes it from the many fabulous commercial galleries Vallarta offers, yet many of their most popular artists also have pieces on exhibit here. And while the commercial galleries tend to specialize in a specific range of genres, this impressive collection deliberately runs the gamut to provide wider exposure to the possibilities inherent in art.

There's an intriguing story behind how it came to be. Dismayed by the lack of organized cultural activities on campus, and believing that the university has a responsibility to its students and the public at large to introduce them to culture in its many forms, in 2001 then-rector Jeffrey Fernandez formed a committee to change things. Headed by avid culture buff Nacho Cadena, retired British expatriate and author Peter Gray was asked to be part of it. "But I quickly ran into difficulty understanding the rapid-fire Spanish spoken at meetings, so I determined that because art doesn't require words, my contribution would be to create a gallery!"

So he and his wife, Buri, donated 17 works from their personal collection, and soon others followed their lead. Initially housed in the foyer of the auditorium, for the past two years these art works have been displayed in an attractive, contemporary glass and concrete building designed to accommodate them. In the appealingly light and airy space with room to expand as the collection does, air-conditioning protects these cultural treasures and keeps visitors comfortable, while adjustable track lighting makes everything easy on the eyes.

Here you'll discover a wide range of techniques and styles both old and new, works ranging from the 17th to the 21st century. Embracing pencil drawings, charcoals, oils, water colors, lithographs, prints, etchings, enamel work, mixed media and sculpture, subjects range from architectural sketches to nudes and landscapes.

A microcosm of world creativity, artists from the USA, Canada, England, Austria, France, Italy, Hungary, Israel and Guatemala are represented, along with some traditional Mexican art, "so kids are reminded what a great artistic heritage they have." It's interesting to note, for example, how thick the wool is on the two pieces of Huichol yarn art on view, which date back to 1975, before the thinner and shinier synthetic yarns came into favor.

So far, some three-dozen benefactors have contributed to the collection, the museum's current goal to keep growing while bringing in works from countries not yet represented. And the same goes for artistic styles. If you would like to make a donation of art, call Peter at (322) 221-5285 or email him at albans@prodigy.net.mx

The process of creating this project has had a tremendous spin-off effect, the impetus for yet other ongoing university cultural groups and resources, including folkloric and modern dance troupes, a film festival and an archeological museum. And now that the ball is rolling, there's no telling what other great cultural activities we'll soon be able to enjoy on campus!

Meanwhile, after your grand art tour, why not head right next door to the fascinating university-run Reptilarium, an exhibit and research center where you'll see and learn about crocodiles, iguanas and more.

Getting There

Both the big blue and smaller white Sistecozome buses will get you to the Centro Universitario de la Costa (CUC) campus. Take one that says "Ixtapa" or "University," the trip about 45 minutes from City Hall. If you're driving from downtown PV, turn right at the Ixtapa turnoff north of the airport and then right again after exactly two kilometers, at the first stoplight. There are two parking lots, one inside and the other just outside of the university gates. A delightful two-minute stroll through the grounds and you're there, signs guiding the way and the museum instantly recognizable by the mammoth mobile hanging from its rotunda. Open to the public Monday through Friday 10 am - 1 pm and 3 - 5 pm, except on university holidays, entrance is free. The museum is wheelchair accessible and refreshments can be purchased.

A Tribute to Peter Gray

Published Sep 25, 2008

The name Peter Gray is synonymous with kindness, altruism and an effervescent smile. Originally from Britain, this writer, painter and former international businessman retired in Vallarta and immersed himself into the community - rapidly becoming known around town for his generosity and initiative. Sadly, this selfless Renaissance man passed away on Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at San Javier Hospital in Guadalajara, after surgery for an aortic aneurism.

Prior to his retirement, Gray held the position of Latin America’s marketing director for Proctor & Gamble, overseeing operations in 15 countries. In addition to his successful business career, he was also an accomplished painter and writer, authoring “Advertising and the Ignorant Savage” in 1977 and “All Is Safely Gathered In” in 2002. 

In his “retirement”, Gray’s preference was to work behind the scenes. He was constantly helping other and involved in activities such as volunteering with international golf tournaments and the Toys for Tots program, raising scholarship money for Becas to help intelligent needy students, being actively involved with the Navy League and also writing articles for local magazines and newspapers.  But perhaps one of his most philanthropic and significant contributions to the community was the establishment of an art museum at the Centro Universitario de la Costa (CUC) in Ixtapa, which has proved to be an important cultural venue for the university and the city as a whole.

Appropriately named after its chief benefactor, the Peter Gray Art Museum was founded in 2001 after Gray and his wife Buri kindly offered 17 paintings from their personal collection as the foundation for the museum. This monumental gift inspired others to donate works from their personal collections and he also encouraged artists working and exhibiting in Vallarta to follow his lead and donate pieces of their art. The collection currently numbers over 70 works, representative of artists from around the world. Gray felt that it was important that the citizens of Vallarta and particularly the youth had the opportunity to view and enjoy quality works of art.

Gray’s imprint Vallarta will continue as his legacy lives on through the projects he initiated and supported as well as the lives of those he touched. He is sadly missed by his wife Buri, his daughter and countless family, friends and acquaintances who were all impacted by this dynamic man.

Peter Gray Museum Receives New Works

Published Nov 18, 2009

Peter Gray Art Museum will add new paintings to its already extensive collection thanks to new donors who will be honored with a reception next Friday, November 27th, 2009 at 5 pm at the Centro Universitario de la Costa (CUC), the museum’s location. The free-admission event is open to the public.

The late Peter Gray was an important benefactor of many charitable and cultural activities during his 15 years living in Puerto Vallarta. He himself started the museum that would be named after him in 2005. After his passing last year, the museum management was left to a civil association headed by his widow Buri Gray and restauranteur Nacho Cadena, along with board members from Puerto Vallarta’s cultural circles. The museum's goal is to remain open, offering unique art exhibitions to benefit both college students and the general public.

The paintings, sculptures and drawings that are displayed in the museum date from the eighteenth century until today, and have been produced by Mexican and foreign artists. All artworks have been donated by Peter Gray himself, local artists and galleries, as well as generous benefactors of the city. The collection shows art work by top artists such as Joan Miró, Manuel Felguérez, José Luis Cuevas, and Manuel Lepe, among others.

The Peter Gray Art Museum Announces Opening

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Published Nov 23, 2011

The Peter Gray Art Museum on the campus of the Centro Universitario de la Costa (CUC) is excited to announce an extraordinary exhibit of the sculptures of Gloria Elies for the opening of the 2011/12 winter season. With the assistance of Galeria Omar Alonso in El Centro, a large sampling of Gloria’s sculptures will be on display beginning with a reception at the museum on December 1 from 5-8 pm. The public is invited to attend, free of charge, to see first hand the work of one of Puerto Vallarta’s most cherished artists over the past 50 years. Gloria Elies will be on hand to greet the guests, so you won’t want to miss this unique opportunity!

By way of background, Gloria originally travelled to Puerto Vallarta in the 1940’s from her home country of Canada. She has called Puerto Vallarta her primary residence since the mid 60’s, though she’s also spent considerable time in the US, Europe and North Africa. Gloria’s sculptures, mostly cast in bronze, reflect her intense interest in the natural world and our changing environment, among other influences through interaction with people from all over the world. Now 88 years young, the vibrant Gloria Elies is an icon of the Puerto Vallarta art scene, right up there with Lepe, Barragan and Niño. Her sculptures can be found in collections around the world.

While at the museum, you may want to view as well a few other art additions since last season. These include a Tamayo mixiograph, a Lucille Wong serigraph, a paper sculpture titled “Gardenia” by Maria Fernanda Barrero and a white marble sculpture “La Fuente” by Hector Alvarado.