San Miguel is, in itself, a work of art. The colors, the architecture, the people, the music...it is a beautiful place. It does help that the city is home to two of the greatest art schools in Mexico (and the world) and is full of aspiring and hugely talented artists.
On my first day, we headed over to Instituto Allende (one of the aforementioned schools) for a huge artists market that takes place once a month. Walking into this historic building, the courtyard is covered with stalls of artists selling their wares. Jewelry, paintings, shadow boxes, embroidery, clothing, pottery, statues, everything you could imagine. Live music was playing and there is a little coffee shop tucked away in a small corner to rest your weary feet and consider your purchases.
I, of course, was like a kid in a candy shop. I walked away with a gorgeous crystal necklace and a coconut carved into a little mask of a fat, pink-faced lady...as well as another necklace that I will share later in the week. The craftsmanship was all amazing and the prices were even better. Ok, I may have pulled the 'oh no dad, I love this but I have no pesos, sad face' act a couple of times... :)
One of San Miguel's hidden gems is Mercado de Artesanias. Tucked down a little entryway right next to the city's largest farmers market, this artists market travels down alleyway after alleyway, down stairs and winding through quiet parts of the town, lined with artists stalls selling everything from postcards to quilts to works of art for the home. I went three times during my visit and still don't think I got to see everything! You can find almost everything you see in the more expensive boutiques around the city center garden but at a fraction of the price. And haggle away. It's pretty easy. I picked up a few gifts here as well as some brightly colored paper buntings with depictions of skeletons and flowers. I think they'll look very cool split up and framed as a series or put into one long frame to showcase them in their original banner form.
It has to be said that the artwork that filled the villa in which we considered 'home' is pretty impressive (and most likely purchased at the Mercado). I could show you everything but no one wants to look at that many pictures from anyone's vacation, so I chose to show you this funny clay ark with depictions of all the animals that Noah saved (except I am not sure how those human faced monkeys sitting on the roof ended up there).
I also wanted to share this amazing work of art that was created using small squares of sculpted paper you can find all over the market. My parents were quite taken with the installation so by the time I left, we had already started a collection of nine...so only a million more to go :)