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Fourth Annual Rosarito Art Fest Promises Plenty of Local Colors

Fourth Annual Rosarito Art Fest Promises Plenty of Local Colors

by Jack E. George

The Fourth Annual Rosarito Art Fest is just around the corner, and if previous festivals are any indication, we will be treated to some great art work, as well as international food and world-class entertainment. If that isn’t enough, the event is free, according to the Committee Chairman, Benito del Aguila. This is the fourth time Aguila has chaired the Rosarito Art  Fest, which will take place during Memorial Day weekend, May 25-26.

Rosarito Art Fest

Gallery owner Benito del Aguila is acting chairman for the Fourth Annual Rosarito Art Fest.

Benito was born in Mexico City and moved to Baja at an early age. Although he owns his own art gallery, he is not an artist. He is more of a leader and a director of the art community. Local artists look to him when they have questions, ideas for promoting art in Rosarito, or need to make plans for an event. Benito started his career as a teacher. He became motivated to learn more about the masters early in his life. His hobby then turned into a passion to learn more and more. This eventually led to the opening of his first art gallery. This came at a time when the local economy started its decline.

Rosarito Art Fest

Esau Andrade will be displaying his work at the Fourth Annual Rosarito Art Fest.

Motivated and determined, Benito moved his gallery to Rosarito, where he has operated the Baja Art Gallery for a number of years. Through his acquaintances, and after establishing himself in our community, Benito has worked with most of the local artists. His art studio displays many of their works. For example, Esau Andrade’s art is prominent in the studio. Esau’s unique style and blends of color are reason enough to make him one of the outstanding local talents. Born in Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico, he comes from a family of artists, including his mother and brother. He became a serious artist after he attended la ‘Escuela de Artes Plasticas’ at the University of Guadalajara.

Rosarito Art Fest

Andrade’s “Arbol de la Vida,” or “Tree of Life,” will be displayed at the Fourth Annual Rosarito Art Fest.

Aside from his local creations, Esau’s paintings are included in the collections at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach. In San Miguel del Valle, New Mexico, his work is presented at Saint Michael Church. Esau’s work is also on display at The Chrysler Company in San Antonio, Texas as well as at the Hispanic Broadcasting Company in Los Angeles, and the Downey Museum of Art in Downey, California. He also offers one man exhibitions at Galeria Uno in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, as well as a number of other areas in North America. He will be one of the more than 100 artists who will be present at the Rosarito Art Fest. Joining him will be fellow artist, Alfonso Arambula Robles who specializes in sculptures.

Rosarito Art Fest

More than 100 artists will have work showcased at the Fourth Annual Rosarito Art Fest.

Born in Ensenada, Alfonso says his inspiration comes from his love for nature and the universe. Alfonso studied art at Palomar College in San Diego, CA. Like Esau he first started his career as a teacher. His art pieces can be discovered in countries all over the world, including Mexico, Japan, Spain, and the U.S. In addition to sculpture, he also presents art workshops nationally and internationally, and often enters art exhibitions. He won first place in the Biennial Sculpture contest organized by the Culture Institute of Baja with his sculpture, “The Soaked Cow.” This piece is presently on exhibit at the gardens located in the Port of Ensenada. He also won a FOECA (Fondo Estatal para la Cultura y las Artes) grant with his five meter long creation of “The Whale Shark.” Most likely Alfonso will be creating some new sculptures during the Rosarito Art Fest.

Rosarito Art Fest

More than 18,000 people are expected to attend the Fourth Annual Rosarito Art Fest.

Esau and Alfonso are just two of the well-known artists who will be appearing at the festival, according to Benito. The event will feature 150 tents offering a variety of works. There will also be an International food court as well as performances featuring dancers and singers. The show will conclude with a performance by the world-renowned Baja California Orchestra. The first year the event drew 6,000 people. This number tripled within three years. Benito anticipates a crowd of 18,000 to attend this year’s Fourth Annual Rosarito Art Fest, making the show one of the most important events in northern Mexico.

Want to explore Rosarito?  There are many hotels and vacation rentals in the Rosarito area. is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurants, hotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at

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Polo’s Gallery in Rosarito: Art from the Heart of Baja California

Polo’s Gallery in Rosarito presents paintings and more by Baja’s best artists, and now offers weekend painting classes!

By Jack George


Polo Valencia owns Polo's Gallery in Rosarito, on Popotla Blvd.

When I parked my car in front of Polo’s Gallery in Rosarito, I was immediately struck by the neatness and beauty in front. It definitely offers an invitation to go inside and investigate, so I did. When I walked inside, I saw Polo Valencia Garcia sitting to the right of me, painting a beautiful seascape that will be sent to a gallery in La Jolla. The pleasant man walked with me as I went to an adjoining room. There I observed portraits, landscapes, and a mixture of other pieces of art gracefully hanging on the walls. What I felt inside is what I repeated to Polo, “This is truly a place to feel peace and comfort in this world with so many problems.” Polo shook his head in agreement.


Polo's seascapes are acclaimed; this piece is going to a gallery in La Jolla, California.

Polo introduced me to some magical pieces of art created from adobe. He watched, interested, as I studied the large adobe body. He then pointed to a silver art form sitting in the upper-left hand section of the creation. This was interesting and made me curious why this huge piece of art, all in one color, except for the body of this tiny person, was done in silver. I then observed the art piece more closely. I pointed to another body, sitting inside the main area of the artwork. Polo smiled as though he was happy I found this. Within seconds I pointed out body after body creatively placed inside the main body. The smaller bodies were not hidden, or placed in order to be hidden from the observer; they were simply a part of this art project.


Polo’s Gallery in Rosarito is located at kilometer 33, across the street from the former Fox Studios. It also offers a warm ambience (that might come from the warmth and passion that Polo brings to his business as well as his art work). It is obvious that someone takes a great deal of time and thought to place each unique piece of art in a special position. Polo opened this gallery 22 years ago. He also owns the Galeria Klein. It has been open for 10 years. Polo opened the Galeria Klein as a way of saying thank you to a doctor who had helped him many years ago. Polo has never forgotten the doctor’s assistance – he never will. Nor will he ever forget Paco Garcia. Thirty-five years ago the well-known Baja artist asked Polo if he would like to paint. Polo said he would. Polo excitedly told how Paco gave him money each time he painted something. Polo was a student with Paco for 14 years. Paco presently has his own art gallery located at the Rosarito Beach Hotel.

Francisco Cabello's tryptich at Polo's Gallery in Rosarito

Polo said that the gallery has a number of options available for the holiday season. For example, he offers oil painting classes on Saturdays and Sundays, from noon to 3 p.m., for the public.     There are also dozens and dozens of varied pieces of art work and the onwer/artist noted that he will offer everything in his shop at a 20% discount, during the 2012 holiday season. In addition, Polo will offer an additional $50 discount on the art pieces for sale to anyone who mentions The art available in his gallery begins at $100 and climbs up to a price of $7,000. Most of the higher priced pieces of art are created by Alvaro Blancarte. He is one of most acclaimed artists in Mexico. He exhibits in Miami, New York, and other large cities.

Polo is also pleased to have his first artist from Tecate. His name is Figueroa. Francisco Cabello continues to display his works of art at the gallery. He specializes in tango dancers. His wife, Lucy de Hoyos, also has her artwork on display. Polo says she is one of the finest female artists in Baja. Altogether Polo has 25 artists who display their art at his gallery. It is not surprising that art buyers from Egypt, India, New Zealand, and people from all over the United States buy from his beautiful gallery.

Lucy deHoyos creates unusual imagery for Polo's Gallery in Rosarito

Polo has had several celebrities visit his studio. Years back, members from the crew filming the Titanic, purchased two pictures to give the director, James Cameron, as ‘thank you’ gifts. Then there was golfer Tiger Woods who visited his gallery. Another interesting visitor was actor Mel Gibson. Gibson has a doctor friend who lives at Club Marena. Gibson has been instrumental in suggesting to several Marena residents, needing art for their condo walls, to visit the Polo Gallery to find just the perfect piece of art. Gibson is so fond of the gallery that he has visited on three occasions and purchased 17 different pieces of art.

These days the dedicated and humble Polo says that most all of his oil paintings are pre-purchased by galleries in La Jolla and Carmel. He works seven days a week. This dedication to his gallery prevents him from exhibiting like he once did; however, he will once again be an exhibitor at the Rosarito Art Festival, to be held in May. Aside from his art work he also tries to spend as much time as he can with his wife and four children. Polo has two sons and two daughters ranging in age from five to 27. The five-year-old, Polo, Jr., is the only one of the children who thoroughly enjoys working in art. I asked to see one of his son’s paintings; however, like a proud father, he said none of his son’s pictures are hanging at the gallery; instead, they are all proudly hanging on the walls at the family home.

Where is Polo’s Gallery in Rosarito:  The gallery is located at kilometer 33 on the free road, in the neighborhood of Popotla that is the Art District south of Rosarito.  It is surrounded by other great furniture and curios shops, and just that stretch of road alone could be an hours-long adventure!

What to expect:  There is an abundance of fine art in all sizes, and all prices.  On a very lucky day, buyers could walk away with smaller paintings by renowned artists  in the  very low hundreds.  There are also sculptures and other work.  Polo will ship artwork to the US and throughout the world.

Where to stay and eat nearby:  The Popotla Art District is just south of the Rosarito Beach Hotel.  There are a variety of great eateries in the vicinity, including Tapanco and El Nido, both located not far from Polos. is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at

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Wine Bar La Vid and the Plaza de los Artistas in Rosarito Beach

In Rosarito, there is a special place that houses wine bar La Vid and the Plaza de los Artistas …and a treasury of art.

By Jack E. George

Owner Jorge Rodriguez at wine bar La Vid and the Plaza de los Artistas in Rosarito

Nestled in amongst a collection of unique and innovative shops, in front of the Rosarito Beach Hotel, visitors will be greeted with a variety of unusual treats at the Plaza de los Artistas. One of the small businesses is known as La Vid. When I stepped inside this wine bar and specialty store, selling fine wines from the smaller producers in the Guadalupe Valley, I was overwhelmed with the homey feeling, the cleanliness, and the organized location of every bottle, glass, and accessory. It is truly a gem to seek.


At wine bar La Vid and the Plaza de los Artistas, work by David Silvah

Owners Jorge Rodriguez and Norma Villasenor offer wine tasting, an art gallery, and unique items that can be purchased for a great gift. La Vid offers jams, marmalades, olive oil, sauces, and so forth. Jorge explained that the name was chosen because La Vid means a vine in a vineyard. He said that all of their wines are from Baja California and most of them are from small wineries. The shop offers vintages from 20 to 25 different vintners.

Visitors at wine bar La Vid and the Plaza de los Artistos can enjoy a wine tasting without reservations. The cost is $5. You can also add cheese, crackers, or other choices to make your experience even more enjoyable. Jorge, a very sincere, friendly, genuine young man prides himself on customer service. He said that what he enjoys most about his business are the interesting people he has the opportunity to meet. La Vid opens at 11 a.m. daily.   During week nights,  they close at 8 p.m. However, you can make an evening of it on the weekends when they stay open until the last customer leaves. (Sometimes, even bouts of spontaneous dancing break out!)

The art pieces hanging on the walls, the arrangements of the bottles of wine, and the many interesting items to look at make La Vid a great place for a visit. Next, you might choose to leave by walking down the outside stairs and going next door to the Baja Gallery. When you enter, through the back, you will see David Silvah painting one of his unique pieces of art.


Wine Bar La Vid and the Plaza de los Artistas features original art by David Silvah


David Silvah, a self-taught artist is a frequent exhibitor in area shows. He also exhibits in San Diego, Los Angeles, and he will be leaving for an art show in Boston in December. He is not the only artist in his family. He has a section he devotes to his eight year-old daughter, Jasmine; and his 11 year old son, Miten. He proudly explains their different pictures. He said they are both interested in becoming artists but he will not push them in that direction. He wants them to choose the career in which they will be happy. He is a firm believer in people doing the work they love. He explained that he could make more money if he was a doctor or a dentist but he would not be happy. His entire career has been devoted to art and he says this has added to his happiness and quality of life.

David said his career started when he was 13 years of age. He always wanted to give girlfriends a unique gift, so he would paint them a special picture. Through the years people encouraged him and his artistic talent. Eventually people asked him to paint specific pictures to hang on the walls in their home.  This led to him becoming a professional artist at the age of 20.

There was one particular painting that was well wrapped and sitting behind a number of other paintings. When I asked him which was his favorite painting he started to remove all of the pictures in front. He then reached his special painting, leaned it against a chair, and removed all of the packaging. My eyes immediately focused on three people.

David Silvah's 'Re-evolution'

David named the picture “re-evolution.” The painting tells the story of an older man, standing to the left, who has had a difficult life in Mexico. To his left is a tattered Mexican flag. He eventually takes his wife and children and moves to the U.S. The young woman, standing in the center of the picture, has hopes and dreams and wants the best for her children. The young man to her right, her son, is serving in the military. His gun represents the war he is fighting, for the U.S., and the battles his people have fought through the years. Next to him the American flag waves in all its splendor.

Drop by La Vid for some wine and cheese and an artsy experience!


David is one of several artists working in the gallery. The gallery offers a variety of paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and many other creations. The Plaza de los Artistas is a fascinating, friendly, area to take a leisurely stroll. Chances are you will also have the opportunity to meet some of the finest artists representing Baja California, enjoy a glass of wine and chunk of cheese, and see artistic creations unlike any you have ever seen before.


Where to dine when in Rosarito?  Find out with! is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurants, hotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us


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Little Shops of Delight: A Maze of Tiendas in Rosarito

by Jack E. George

If you are visiting Rosarito Beach and have a few extra hours to enjoy this  friendly town, visit the ‘maze’:  a labyrinth of  delightful little shops that do not have an official name. You can find them by walking a few blocks north of the Rosarito Beach Hotel. They are immediately after you pass the El Nido steakhouse restaurant and right before you reach the Scotia Bank. Look carefully — there is a small placard outside that invites you in. If you look up and to your left, you will see the word, “Entrance.” The word is a bit faded, as is the placard. Chances are they are both original from when the shops opened more than 25 years ago.

A shopper's paradise Photo by Jack E. George

Marino Ruiz operates one of the units. He explained that each ‘shop’ is actually owned. He said that he owned this particular unit where I looked at his remarkable ceramic pieces, and then he proudly pointed across the way to a number of dresses gently blowing in the wind. He also owns that business but rents the space.  Marino has been at this location for more than 20 years. It has been in the family since the opening of the ‘arcade.’

 Marino explained that most of his ceramics come from Jalisco, Michoacán, Puebla, and Oaxaca. He does not buy directly from the people who make the products. Instead, he buys from a ‘middleman’ who travels throughout Mexico selling these wares. His shop across the way offers many dresses for sale. They are all from the state of Guerrero. Again, they are purchased from a middleman although different from the person selling the ceramics.

It is interesting to engage in a conversation with the various owners.  Each one is truly a unique individual with a great amount of knowledge and information, and owners eagerly and joyously share their knowledge with you.  When you find an article you want to buy, enjoy yourself by offering a little less than the asking price. The shop attendants expect you to ‘haggle’ with them.  So, do not be shy and chances are you will walk off with a real bargain. That said, remember that these prices are generally already excellent, considering the artisan handwork involved…so don’t be greedy!

Gilbert Mendoza owns a shop that has a variety of items for sale including dresses. His dresses come from Acapulco. Interestingly, none of the handmade dresses have tags inside indicating the seamstress. Throughout his shop you will not find two dresses made from the same material. Toward the back of the arcade Estella Lopez operates an interesting shop offering rocks and seashells. She has some elaborate pieces that hang from the ceiling. She buys her items from Guadalajara and Durango. She has been at her business for 25 years.

There are a number of ‘jewelry stores.’ One is owned by Peter Fernandez. He has a variety of rings, necklaces, earrings, and so forth. He actually works in his Rosarito Beach shop for four months a year and then hires assistants to operate it the other eight months while he returns to Mexicali. He operates more shops in his hometown but he likes to get away during the soaring heat of summer.

I asked each shop owner if anything sold in the arcade has products made in Rosarito Beach. I was then directed to the shop of Francisco Vazquez. He offers a huge number of clay art pieces and each one is handmade in Rosarito Beach. He was proud to let me know that he created the placard that stands in front of the arcade. He even has a name for his shop, and a business card, “Curios Leo.”

Once you enter the arcade you will be so overwhelmed, with the ‘feast of the eyes,’ that you will not know if you want to turn left or right. You probably will feel like you are in a maze. It really does not matter because it is truly a bit of Old Mexico right here in Rosarito Beach. The thing is, there are 198 different ‘units,’ although the placard out front says there are more than 200. You can really find most anything here. If you want a beautiful piece of jewelry from Taxco, all kinds of leather goods, a great Mexican painting, dresses, ceramics from all around Mexico, or thousands of other items, you will find them here, all in an area of less than one block.

This is truly a signature Baja day-trip!  What is the coolest thing you’ve bought on your vacation?  Let us know at is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about localrestaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Get to Know Rosarito

Rosarito lies along the highway that connects Tijuana to Ensenada.  From skyscrapers, colonial hotel buildings, and spas to art galleries, shopping, and lobster, this beachfront resort town has a lot to offer visitors from near and far.

Image courtesy of Laura Wong


Winter is prime surfing time, especially at beaches like Punta Mezquite. Here, the Pacific Ocean provides great views and ideal sport fishing conditions.  Nearby, you can find shops specializing in surfing and all kinds of water sports equipment.

Vibrant nightlife is another attraction: numerous bars and clubs have been the main engine for growth in Rosarito.


It all started during the 1920s, when the Rosarito Beach Hotel was built in Belgian-style architecture. It remains a local icon to this day.

No less important in the growth of Rosarito is the Hotel Calafia. It was designed with inspiration from important Spanish forts of the 16th century. It offers museum exhibits devoted to the history of Baja California and the movie Titanic, along with a replica of Columbus caravels.  As part of its commitment to the full satisfaction to its guests, the hotel offers spacious indoor and outdoor settings for weddings and conventions, as well as a bilingual trained staff.

Art and Film

Just down the road is the movie theme park, Xploration. This interactive cinema museum is an annex of a studio that was constructed in 1995 by Fox to film the movie Titanic. Visitors can learn about techniques used in film productions, such as models, animatronics, green screen, and sound effects. The Titanic exhibition presents several complete scenarios, props, and a legendary transatlantic boat in scale model. Other attractions in the park include the ship used in the filming of the movie Master and Commander and some tape scenarios used in the X-Men films.

Heading south toward Ensenada, you will pass through Popotla and the Artisans corridor, with a number of art galleries and shops selling Mexican crafts, furniture and home decorations. Look for wood furniture and handicrafts in clay and iron, among other decorative items. A few miles further south, you will arrive  in Puerto Nuevo, Baja’s lobster capital. Following local tradition, restaurants fry the lobsters in oil and serve them with red rice, refried beans and fresh, handmade flour tortillas. This is a must-try for those who travel to eat.


The Rosarito Canyon features vegetable gardens and flower fields that belong to various ranches and are open to the public. Other options for recreation include swimming pools and horseback riding trails.

For golf, try the Real Del Mar Golf Course and Hotel, which has an 18-hole course with challenging fairways and great ocean views.

Information courtesy of the Baja California State Tourism Secretariat.