Transforming Puerto Vallarta’s Public Spaces
Published Aug 8, 2013 - (Updated Aug 29, 2013)
In conjunction with the ongoing urban planning strategies governed and implemented by our municipality, other organizations and individuals are taking it upon themselves to actively participate in the beautification of Puerto Vallarta’s public spaces. In some cases, local businesses have contributed to the process. Such is the case with acclaimed chef/restaurateur Thierry Blouet and the recent makeover of his signature restaurant’s facade.
Volunteer organizations such as the Vallarta Garden Club are working in conjunction with local government to beautify local parks and planters designed to develop a unified look in which colorful bougainvilleas take center stage. Much of their work is readily visible in Lázaro Cárdenas Park and along Basilio Badillo St. in Colonia Emiliano Zapata.
Then there are individuals like Natasha Moraga, who is using tiles to transform public spaces around Puerto Vallarta—one wall at a time—with a brand-new project, Mosayko Vallarta. Originally from Los Angeles, Moraga moved to Puerto Vallarta over a decade ago by way of Guadalajara. As luck would have it, she crossed paths with Eric Wichner—known to many for his street food venture, VallartaEats—and struck up a friendship shortly after he arrived. “I saw in Natasha this unexpressed creativity. I always have,” he recalls.
During a trip to Barcelona, Moraga was mesmerized by the modernist work of Antoni Gaudí and began transforming furniture with tiles shortly thereafter. When Wichner took notice, he suggested she pursue formal training. And thanks to extensive work in nonprofit corporate fundraising prior to moving to Puerto Vallarta, he was able to connect her with Izaiah Zagar, the Philadelphia-based mosaic artist who masterminded that city’s spectacular Magic Gardens and murals along and around South St. Zagar agreed to take her on as an apprentice, and as a token of friendship, Wichner sponsored her travel expenses. Moraga worked with the artist for one season but remained in Philadelphia for several years, soaking up as much art-related knowledge as she could, in order to put her skills to good use upon returning to Puerto Vallarta.
Such was the beginning of Mozayko Vallarta, an urban transformation project for which the municipality has already authorized several public walls around the city, the first at the intersection of Basilio Badillo and V. Carranza in Colonia Emiliano Zapata. With the title Episodio 1 (Episode One), Natalia, along with her brother, Daniel, are transforming a 196 x 9 ft. wall using repurposed mosaic, glass and mirrors, interlocked in a fantastic kaleidoscope of abstract shapes.
As far as location, they couldn’t have asked for a better place. The installation in progress is on one of the outside walls of the Emiliano Zapata Kindergarten, which is also home of the popular Old Town Farmers Market, which takes place every Saturday. Needless to say, the favorable response they have received has far exceeded their expectations.
To finance the project and further involve the surrounding community, businesses and individuals can sponsor a tile (prices range from $1,500 to $5,000 pesos) and part of the installation. Once Episodio 1 is finished, the artist will simply move elsewhere in town to continue the mission. “The idea is to turn this already magical place [Puerto Vallarta] into something even more magical,” she muses.