Don't worry, be arty

Here it comes again, that metaphysical fireworks display sparked by yuletide, in the wake of Black Friday fever. To question or not to question, that is the question. For example: is it OK to fall for the magic of Christmas lights, or 'watt'?

New Year is on the horizon, prompting us to wax existential as we walk along the seafront, with our sights set on those amazing daybreaks and spectacular nightfalls, which are at once an unfathomable source of inner harmony and the Costa del Sol's chief selling point - as in Selling Sunset. (What d'ya think folks? Isn't Netflix's docu-soap about LA girls who clinch million-dollar property deals, a surefire candidate for Guilty Pleasure of the Year?)

My idea of luxury? Something that cannot be gift-wrapped: to nod off and wake up to the sound of the ebb and flow of the sea; hearing the planet breathe night and day is humm... to be in touch with the Universe, no less. Did someone mention the soaring cost of tourist accommodation? Por favor, let's not go there! Instead, let's venture off the beaten track, in search of unexpected artistic thrills.

Casa Amarilla

"Malaga, Ciudad Genial" - aka 'Picassoland', aka 'Banderas City', a museum-goer's paradise... - is as irresistible as its slogan, all year round. Yet, even off-season, dodging the crowds can be tricky, which is why stopping by the Casa Amarilla - an artist-run gallery-workshop-cum-residency - installed on several floors of a house in the heart of the historical centre, is such a pleasant alternative to the hectic hustle and bustle of festive shopping.

Facing Casa Aranda - a mega e-rated traditional churros 'n' chocolate hotspot - and within steps of the Thyssen Museum, this hip haven attracts contemporary art aficionados, luring them into its web, with offbeat offerings. Storefront performances are part of the package. By hook or by crook, there is always something 'on' (or 'off') to look forward to: an in situ happening or an exchange with another city; an artist residency or a brand-new group show...

Your hosts will be one of the Casa's two super enterprising partners, or both: David Burbano and/or Sara Sarabia. Sara, whose solar personality (and architectural background) shines throughout the entire mellow yellow gallery+ concept, lets me into the whys and wherefores of the multi-level art space they spear-headed almost a decade ago, in another locale: "Why yellow? Because of Van Gogh and the dream he had: to create a community of artists... to sow seeds; that's the spirit..."

Cosmic concept

If planning an excursion to Vélez-Málaga, a Moorish gem east of Malaga city, don't miss a further opportunity to pause for thought.

To be seen at the Sala El Pósito until Tuesday 10 December, Ernst Kraft's elliptical metal mesh and cable installation dubbed "El Universo" is a conceptual "parenthesis" inviting us to reflect upon infinity. A priceless pleasure.