During the late 80's and early 90's, Puerto Vallarta saw the birth of a new and exciting artistic technique. Around this time artists would gather in the afternoons and evenings along Vallarta's seafront promenade to create beautiful pieces of art using pencils, pens and aerosol paints. However, Jorge Lopez Avila, who at that time was around 30 years old, started to use his own fingers to create his pieces. His unique oil paintings attracted the attention of many onlookers, leaving them dumbfounded by the beauty and detail he managed to capture using only his fingers and nails. His paintings featured, in the main, beautiful scenes of life in small coastal towns, breathtaking views of the Bahia de Banderas and its fire red sunsets, or even dolphins swimming under the light of the moon.
But that's not all! These oil paintings weren't made on a normal canvas, but on plates! Jorge Lopez was able to make one of these paintings in just 5 minutes, which helped him to become, slowly but surely, one of the promenades main attractions. Word of his talent spread and it wasn't long before the hotels in Vallarta began to ask him to stop by in the evenings, so that guests could see him working by the pool. He attracted both locals and vacationers alike at these sessions.
Not long after his initial success, Lopez imparted the knowledge behind his technique to his closest family and friends. This provided them with not only a way to make some money, but also a way to allow this type of Mexican artwork to spread around the world.
His family has spread the legacy of Lopez's finger painting technique to all corners of Mexico, but Jorge Lopez himself still resides in Puerto Vallarta as one of the most renowned painters in the area. His techniques have advanced and evolved over the years, and now not only plates but also ceramic tiles are used as a base for his paintings. Ceramic is a great material to use for oil paintings because it's easy to spread and blur the paint.
Luis Gerardo Lopez, the nephew of Jorge Lopez, has taken the technique to a higher level and turned it into his professional career. He is even renowned internationally and exports his paintings to the United States and Canada. Finger painting has ceased to be just child's play and has now become fine art.
When you visit Puerto Vallarta, don't forget to take an afternoon stroll along the promenade, because you just might find one of Jorge Lopez's apprentices working at a desk on the sidewalk or maybe even Senor Lopez himself.
Finger Paintings: Street Art to Go
- Ana Gabriela Lopez Espinosa