The painting tradition started in the 1930s, when Kaqchikel painter Andrés Curruchich (1891–1969) started painting with oil. His creativity was noted so much that he started showing his art in the United States and achieved international success. Because of this, Curruchiche decided to teach the new generations his form of painting. Today there are some 500 painters in San Juan Comalapa, and the majority of them still use the techniques of Curruchiche. These painters are dedicated to paint the costums, life experiences and traditions of the Indian towns.
The town was much devastated by an earthquake in 1976.
San Juan Comalapa has close ties to the city Stord in Norway, they are friendship cities.