Art as far as the eye can see: Our anniversary trip to Puerto Rico
My wife and I are interested in local and contemporary art. She also loves the beach. So, for our 3rd anniversary, I wanted to take her to a romantic place where we could have both experiences.
One of my friends in New York is from Puerto Rico. She’s one of the up-and-coming artists. I asked her about the art scene of the island, and she highly recommended it. I got to say that the museums did surprise us.
The Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (MAPR) is a traditional large-scale high-end museum. The exhibitions are beautiful, relevant and well curated. We went on a rainy day, and took an excellent guided tour. Make sure to book your tour appointment prior to your visit.
They have works of art from the 17th century to contemporary. I loved Jose Campeche’s portrait skills. He’s the first known Puerto Rican visual artist and is considered one of the finest painters of the late eighteenth century in Latin America. My wife is more into contemporary art, and was fond of the work of local artists like Carmelo Sobrino, Myrna Baez and Ada Bobonis (her installation was amazing).
We also visited Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MAC). It’s in a tastefully restored 20th century red-brick old public school. The collection is from Latin America, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico, and it’s mostly based on political art. My wife was very impressed. She even found inspiration there for her next collection (she’s a fashion designer).
My friend from NYC also suggested that we visit the underground galleries. We went to Mondo Bizarro and Taller Secreto in Río Piedras. It’s a college town, so they mostly have works of emerging artists. It was fun and refreshing. And the street art of the area is incredible! We also saw a lot of street art in Santurce on our way to the beach.
Luckily, and to our surprise, the hotel where we stayed (El Convento in Old San Juan) had recently discovered a Spanish mosaic wall from colonial times while renovating one of the building spaces. It’s a beautiful mosaic with many components, rather than a linearly chronological piece. One of the staffs told us that they believe it was part of a kitchen, because it portrays many food and cooking elements.
We also went for drinks at La Concha and Vanderbilt hotels. Both are historic hotels in Puerto Rico due to their amazing architecture and they are truly works of art. La Concha’s restaurant Perla rests inside a shell-like structure and the Vanderbilt retains the greatness and elegance of a hotel built in 1919. As an architecture lover I highly recommend you visit these hotels in San Juan, you’ll be in awe.
We were not able to see other museums because we also spent time at the beach and getting to know Old San Juan during the day and night. I got to say that we felt very at home. It seems as if they’re an open-minded community, who can handle seeing two women kissing and holding hands. We didn’t feel the need to restraint ourselves. It was a very romantic vacation. We’ll probably be back again for our 4th anniversary, and visit other museums we didn’t get to see.