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What Peyote-Induced Art, Liz Taylor and Stunning Resorts Have in Common

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While we may assume that the majority of artists are influenced in some way while creating their masterworks, peyote may not be their norm.

A main street of downtown Puerto Vallarta

However, high in a remote location in the lush Sierra Madre mountains which frame on one side the bustle as well as beauty of Puerto Vallarta are a collective group known as the Peyote People. These Huichol Indian artists, once ingesting the peyote cactus, receive sacred visions and translate them into multi-dimensional art forms, such as vibrant yarn paintings or beaded art, which is highly prized by folk art collectors globally.

A celebrated example of this, created by both male and female artists over an 8 month period of time is named “Vochol.” Having toured throughout Mexico, the United States and Europe, this allegorical Volkswagen Beetle was decorated with over two million glass beads and fabric with artistic designs of the Huichol Indian culture.

Alejandro Colunga created this fantastical sculpture for the resort

A very different kind of sculpture, perhaps symbolic, if not surreal in its own way, greets visitors as they enter the lobby of the luxurious Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit Resort, just one of over 4,000 affiliated resorts in approximately 100 countries from RCI, which is the worldwide leader in vacation exchange.

Back lobby facing towards both the pools and beach of the resort

RCI’s vacation exchange delivers exceptional travel experiences to approximately 3.7 million leisure-bound families each year, allowing vacation owners to discover new places and enjoy the freedom of resort vacationing all over the world. RCI Weeks, the traditional week-for-week exchange system, and RCI Points create flexible and versatile travel experiences worldwide.

An internationally celebrated Mexican artist, Alejandro Colunga, created the unusually proportioned bronze sculpture which depicts a magician transforming himself into a chair and welcomes guests to not only touch the art but sit in it as well.

Sculpture by Colunga in the lobby of the Grand Velas Resort

A self-taught artist, Colunga, who also created a popular and imaginative series of eight bronze sculptures for Puerto Vallarta’s boardwalk, credits Rufino Tamayo as an inspiration for his work. Colunga’s paintings and sculptures can be found worldwide, including the Nassau County Museum of Art in Long Island, New York.

Exterior of La Leche Restaurant

Aside from Puerto Vallarta’s artists, mountains and boardwalk, it also bills itself as the “gourmet beach capital of Mexico.” Surprisingly, some of its homestyle dishes are similar to Peruvian cuisine due to the trade boats in past centuries sailing through Peru on their way to Asia.

Interior of La Leche Restaurant, which features a DJ booth to the right of the portrait.

A restaurant not-to-miss due to its highly innovative and edgy decor as well as its visionary chef is La Leche. Stepping into the restaurant feels like a movie set where everything is awash in white, including shelves lined with stylized milk containers, long tables with mismatched chairs, a DJ booth situated next to a photograph of what seems to be a woman hypnotically savoring her milk.

A dish from La Leche

Reflecting both French and Mexican cuisine, the menu changes daily so as to offer the freshest market ingredients, and is exhibited on a large moveable chalkboard. Add some color to the whimsical minimalist background by ordering the dual color cosmo cocktail with a green mojito foam and don’t miss out on the signature “La Leche Duck” entrée. Bread arrives in a white paper bag and a faux milk carton houses the bill.

So how does Liz Taylor figure into all of this?

Taylor and Burton outside their Casa Kimberley home in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta was immortalized by celebrities such as Liz Taylor, whose beauty was apparent not only for her violet eye color but a mutation that gifted her with double eyelashes, and Richard Burton vacationing in this tropical paradise. The notorious film, The Night of the Iguana, and the couple’s love for this previously small fishing town, swept Puerto Vallarta into the world’s eye and the rest, as they say in Hollywood, is history.

Iguana chalk drawing on sidewalk in downtown Puerto Vallarta

For more info about RCI, please visit:

To view additional images of Alejandro Colunga’s sculptures and paintings:

To learn about the history of the Peyote People:

To make reservations at La Leche:

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  1. Tookl says:

    I remember Kirk Varnedoe speaking about Sigmar Polke using Peyote , when Varnedoe gave a walk-through of the Polke exhibtion he curated at MOMA

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