Dominican Art and Date Night in the Colonial Zone

December 1, 2016

Last night was date night and, in spite of traffic and crummy weather,  we took it to the Colonial Zone for a Dominican Art exhibit that we heard was happening at Galería Toledo.

A rainbow on the way to date night.

We had an idea of where the gallery was located but we needed to do a little searching. I asked the doorman who stood outside of the Nicolas De Ovande Hotel, “Oh La Casa de Betty?” He asked. I repeated the gallery’s name, “Galeria Toledo.” Apparently we were talking about the same place. He directed me through the small Hostal Plaza Toledo to the corner of Isabel la Catolica.

Now, I’d be lying if I told you that I was an avid art lover. The truth is the promotion flyer sold me on the “wine and cheese” bit, but Husband and I have also been thinking about the very real move we’ll be making this year; off this island, away from the birthplace of these two kiddos and we want to make sure we take somethings with us. Something to remind us of our time here. In our years here, we’ve collected one – count it ONE – “art” piece, and it’s a doll made out of a Presidente can. Go figure. But that kind of art falls more in line with the art I tend to buy – repurposed, recycled, green materials – and when we walked into Galería Toledo, I knew the draw of coming here would be more than just the wine and cheese.


These light fixtures, for example, are by a Dominican artist, Frank Lara, who “places particular interest in the… botanical processes.” Laymen terms, these lights are made of leaves. What the whaaaaaa?! Incredible right? Our only set back from buying one was how we’d ship them without destroying them. Ugh… moving sucks.

Of course, I set my sights on the hand-carved and painted Christmas ornaments. Pick one up and it feels solid, weighty. The artist paints the first layer, waits for it to dry, and then paints the next layer and so forth. They seem simple but the craftsmanship that goes into these ornaments is quite impressive.

Husband chose the middle ornament
Husband chose the middle ornament

Next, Tamika, the gallery owner, told us about these jewelry pieces, made from Dominican stones and/or material: larimar*, cork, amber**, and black coral. The designer, Clarlin Rivera, had studied fashion art design in Brussels and since Husband recently applied to a school in Brussels, we viewed it as a sign from the universe to buy something. That, and I really loved the black coral earrings. See that empty, block? Yeah. Those came home with me.


Here are the ones I bought:


And then there were the dominican art fish

This is the kind of piece that captures you hook, line, and sinker (pun intended). First, the beauty of the polished wood and gorgeous colors grabs your attention (hook). Then you notice the tail made out of coral and how cool a feature that is in an art piece like this (line). And once you’re close enough to notice the detailing of the fish – the smaller pieces of coral in the cut outs, the resin, the tortoise shell eye frame – you’re sunk (sinker); it must be yours. I am happy to say one such fish came home with us!

Dominican ArtBut my absolute favorite aspect of these is that each fish is an individualized work of art. No one fish is the same. In fact, to make each, the artist uses pieces of materials he finds. The coral on the blue fish, for example, he found while walking on the beach. On another, he found an interesting piece of wood he wanted to include in the final product.

Dominican Art Fish

This week’s date night was a success. We walked away with some super cool stuff that is both conversation starting and a beautiful reminder of this island we love.

There is an exhibit tonight that you shouldn’t miss if you’re interested in learning more about these pieces or if you’re interested in buying something but you can also check back often as they are constantly changing the art at Galería Toledo.

P.S. These dope wooden sunglasses


Picture credits: black coral earrings via Clarlin Rivera. Fish via Galería Toledo.

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*Larimar, also called “Stefilia’s Stone”, is a rare blue variety of the silicate mineral pectolite found only in the Dominican Republic.

**Dominican Republic amber is thought to be the best in the world; considered to be some of the clearest and finest amber available

    1. Nice! Las Terrenas is my reigning favorite still. I love it there!! We’ve had a few yoga retreats – I think the one you are talking about was in Las Galeras and we stayed at a place called Villa Serena. We also had another yoga retreat at Monte Placido and last year it was at Rancho Baiguate in Jarabaco – which I also love.

    1. Hubby is from Santo Domingo, family in LA Romana and I want to see
      Las Terranas. Brother in law has small finca just nothing of the capital. Where was your yoga retreat? Might save that for future visit. I am excited.

    1. Hi Ann!!!! What a great time to come to DR. The weather is perfect!! So glad you are finding some motivation from here and that you are enjoying the feel and writing of DTWB. Have you visited before? Where do you plan to visit while you’re here?

    1. Jen, just found your blog. Amazing. Husband and I are coming to the DR for 3 weeks in Feb. He is Dominican and has not been home in 10 years. Considering moving back. Drink it all in. thanks for the inspiration to motivate us. Beautiful family and wonderful writing. Feel free to email. Currently we are located in Atlanta, GA USA.

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