Voted as one of The Top Art Galleries Across Mexico You Must Visit by Culture Trip, the Galeria de Ida Victoria takes its pride of place amongst top art galleries and museums such as The MARCO (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey) in Monterrey, Mexico, Museo Soumaya, in Mexico D.F. and MACO, Oaxaca’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Being the only gallery selected in all of Baja California, we wanted to find out more about what made this gallery so special.
After interviewing Ida, owner, and creator of the gallery, it wasn’t hard to understand why the gallery is held in such high esteem.
911 was the pivotal moment in Ida Victoria Gustavson’s life. Working as a freelance illustrator and designer after graduating from Parsons School of Design in New York, Ida felt the urge for a massive change. Watching her world literally explode from out of her tiny studio apartment window as the day’s horror-filled events unraveled was the final unspoken message she needed to search for something different.
An Adventure In Mexico
Ida’s parents encouraged her to come to Los Cabos, having recently purchased property there. Within days, Ida was heading south on a plane. One glimpse of the aquamarine waters surrounded by an expansive mountainous desert and Ida fell in love. Within 3 short weeks of getting a taste of the Los Cabos lifestyle, she was hooked and had already started making mental plans to open her very own art gallery.
Already professionally immersed in the arts, Ida noticed beautiful homes under construction everywhere and felt the urge to create a local gallery space. It didn’t take her long to find a property in downtown San Jose del Cabo that would work as a living and workspace. Ida returned to New York, sold her West Village studio, and used the funds to seal the deal on her newfound life.
Ida was all in.
Her creative juices were flowing, and life was one enormous high as she constructed the art gallery of her dreams in 2003.
Setting Up Shop
While she was building, Ida set about meeting both local and US-based artists. Daily she would set off in her candy apple red 1971 Karmann Ghia (the roar of the engine setting off other car alarms as she drove), making connections, sourcing art, and spreading the word about her new business. Ida’s sourcing efforts expanded beyond the confines of Los Cabos, venturing to art galleries in Mexico City too. It didn’t take long for portfolios to start falling into her lap, with requests from artists asking her to take a look at their work.
It’s All About The Art
Ida’s roster of artists happened organically. The gallery had its grand opening in 2003 and was an immediate success. Ida sweet-talked the security guards at the various home developments to had out invites on her behalf. Local curiosity piqued and the Grand Opening a huge hit. Initially, Galeria de Ida Victoria was home to the works of approximately 13 artists including Dennis Wentworth Porter, Andres Garcia-Peña from New York (who is still with the gallery today), Tomas Spangler along with some artists based in Todos Santos.
Today the gallery hosts around 30 artists.
Finding artists to represent has never been a problem for Ida, an authentic US city girl, with zero tolerance for drama. As long as the work is technically well-done and eye-catching, the contents of an artist’s resume are irrelevant. Ida is just as happy to represent an up and coming talent as she is a well-established artist, as long as the work is good. Over the years, Ida has come to know what art will look best in a Cabo home or an ideal representation of Mexico that a visitor may want to take home with them.
“In art as in love, instinct is enough.” – Anatole France
A Dynamic Space To Create
The gallery itself is exceptionally dynamic. It lends itself to very large works or very small works, sculptures and outdoor pieces. Artists walk into the gallery and they want to show their work in the space. The gallery is an altogether eclectic collection, with everything from Papier-Mache to landscapes to whimsical. Every piece has a story; every artist is a character and it’s Ida’s job to communicate these to each visitor by choosing the ideal wall placement in addition to filling in the informational gaps with stories of what motivates or inspires the artist in the work of art that they created.
There’s Always A Love Affair
Just like when two humans connect, so does a piece of art to a pair of eyes. It’s impossible to talk someone into a piece of art, because the process is simply too subjective. That’s the fun of art gallery ownership according to Ida, as she’ll watch one visitor fall in love with a piece only to witness the next person express their distaste for the same piece.
There’s no right or wrong, nor is there a need to press for a sale. All that Ida and her team can do is bring forth some insight about a certain piece or about the artist.
Interestingly, Ida doesn’t clump the works of one artist together. Instead, she spreads them throughout the gallery and then enjoy how people gravitate towards select pieces. The idea is to place an abstract next to a landscape, next to a portrait and so on. The contrasts in style and color allow the viewer to engage with each piece without distraction. This method gives the art its own breathing room and enhances its uniqueness that much more.
One would suppose that the majority of Ida’s clientele are tourists, but that’s not the case. Ida reckons it’s around a 50/50 split between Los Cabos homeowners and tourists. “I’ve got clients that have come to the gallery every year for the last 10 years and regularly buy a piece of art. I guess it’s become a tradition for them,” Ida tells me. “Sometimes it’s a $4,000 US piece and sometimes it’s a $200 US piece. I’m just thrilled to be a part of something they love to traditionally do.”
World-Wide Shipping, Even From Cabo
DHL is the typical choice when it comes to tourists wanting to purchase art. If a client is unable to take the piece home with them on their flight, Ida offers a reliable out-sourced packing and shipping service. The good news? Tourists do not incur any additional taxes to import art from Mexico. Additionally, no taxes are imposed on fine art bring imported into the United States. The client pays for the cost of the shipping and the insurance, and that’s it! Canada is a slightly different story as their customs do charge value-based tax on each shipment.
A Multi-Purpose Space With A Heart
Obviously, Ida Victoria Gallery has shown countless artist exhibitions over the years, even offering up the space so artists can do lectures. One such memorable event was the Frida Kahlo Museum Director who came to give a talk about the opening of one of Frida and Diego’s closets that had been requested to remain closed up until a specified time at the behest of Diego Rivera’s will. The Director shared the process of logging each item found inside the closet and what the experience was like to participate in such a momentous occasion.
Additionally, the Ida Victoria Gallery lends itself to live theater and cultural events. A Poetry reading was a huge hit this season with an award-winning Coloradan poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer. Canadian musician Melanie Decker has performed multiple times at the gallery too. Thanks to its’ impressive acoustics, performers don’t need to use a microphone when playing or speaking live. The gallery also features slide presentations, artist demonstrations, book signings, and Q & A’s with artists.
Then there are the creative events where participation is a must. Between painting and Papier-Mache workshops, the gallery is always lively, which is how Ida loves to keep it.
In addition to all the wonderful ways Ida uses this gallery, it’s also home to a custom framing studio. Full disclosure – this isn’t the sort of place you would bring a $25 US poster to frame because the framework is a work of art in itself. However, if you’re seeking framing for an existing piece of original fine art you already own or for a new piece you want to buy from the gallery, this is the place to go. The Custom Frame Studio specializes in Archival preservation framing to allow all frame work to be 100% reversible.
Creativity & Community
Creativity and community are Ida’s strengths. She’s positioned the gallery at the center of San Jose del Cabo’s charitable efforts over the years and gladly loans the space out to charitable events. On the business side of things, Ida also offers her services digitally. Clients can send Ida photos of an
area in their home, allowing her to virtually position new art pieces in that same space. She’s even able to reconfigure the space to incorporate existing pieces of art in the home. This tool works incredibly well for our transient community who, more often than not, visit the gallery at
the end of a visit to Los Cabos which means there’s not enough time to go back and forth to see if the piece will work in the house.
Ida can visit a property in person with the help of a property manager to take photos and measurements of spaces needing art so that she can recommend some possible solutions for the spaces.
She can curate a space with the owners virtually, then by the time they return, their new art is in pride of place. Ida also enjoys assisting clients when they move from one home to another to reposition their art to suit their new abode.
The Art of Gallery Shopping
Entering an art gallery can be an intimidating experience for buyers. In the case of the Galeria de Ida Victoria, original pieces can start at $150 US and go all the way to $15,000 US. Ida imparts some advice about the process: “You do not need a degree in art history or any sort of knowledge about contemporary art to know what you love and what catches your eye. What you love is what you love. If somebody is looking for a piece for a particular space, I think the first thing to do is to come in with a completely open mind and be willing to ask questions.”
“Sometimes you see something on a wall and you like the artist, but you have a smaller space so that piece won’t work. You can’t just assume that that’s the only piece by that artist. If something catches your eye, please ask if the gallery has any more by this artist? As a gallerist and promoter of this artist, I will gladly contact the artist to find out what other pieces they may have in their studio that may work.”
Ida wants to engage with people.
She loves nothing more than to tell the story behind that piece or information about that artist to see if she can find something for you that fits perfectly. And the perfect piece is not yet in existence, then we work on commissioned pieces, so we create a perfect piece for the particular space.
It’s true that art is not a necessity, yet it’s the gift that just keeps on giving when you find that piece that you love. Many people ask Ida if a piece of art will hold its value for years to come and her best advice is “if you hang it on your wall and you enjoy it every single day for the next 20 years, then you will have gotten your value out of it.”
Culture Trip contributor Lauren Cocking wrote this about Ida’s Gallery: “Moving over to the other side of the country, we find San José del Cabo’s Galería Ida Victoria, which specializes in exhibiting the work of both emerging and established artists and has regularly been voted the best art gallery in the region – impressive, when you consider the artsy reputation of the area! Every taste is catered for here, but it seems that most of the represented artists are drawn to vibrant, eclectic styles that make for beautifully bright and appealing pieces.”
To pay a visit to the Ida Victoria Gallery, here’s the address: Vicente Guerrero 1128, Gallery District, Centro, 23400 San José del Cabo, B.C.S. Open hours are 10 am – until 7 pm. To call, 624 142 5772. And if you’d like to reach out to Ida directly, via email at email@example.com. All information on services, artists, contact info and blog can be found on the Galeria de Ida Victoria Website.