All posts tagged: Buster

A Street View From Inside the Doors of Mexico City ; Galleries, Studios, Museums, and the Metro

A Street View From Inside the Doors of Mexico City ; Galleries, Studios, Museums, and the Metro

Street Art and graffiti and their relatives often go inside these days, including in Mexico City, where we recently found some interesting new intersections between urban art and contemporary art when we wandered off the streets into studio, gallery, and even museum spaces.

Here we’ll show you images from a few of these places, including; a versatile gallery and performance space that happens to serve pizza, a toy museum and the Street Art visionary who runs it who has facilitated some of the best installations around the city that you’ll see, a visit with a Mexican mural/fine artist who has made serious waves on the Street Art stage as well as museums, three Argentinians setting up a temporary art-making studio in preparation for a gallery show, and a serendipitous run-in with Keith Haring on a train in a metro station.

Bernardo Flores pays tribute to Mexican Luchadores on the walls, ceilings in the Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM) that features murals and tags by Street Artists throughout the exhibitions and up on the roof. Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Perhaps taking its name from the largest cemetery in the city, or simply the Pantheon, the Roman temple with its multiple galleries leading off the grand rotunda, this Panteón opened in spring 2017 and is funded by Mexican pizza chain scion.

Inside a finely appointed 200 year old colonial mansion and former headquarters of the Mexican Academy of Language on Calle Donceles, one of the oldest streets in the city, the spacious two story building is now hosting a live concert stage with a bar off the pizza restaurant court on the first floor. Climb the winding stairs to discover an open balcony ringed with well-curated shows of current art movements that break your expectations in their diversity and quality, hung with care and well-lit in high-ceilings former libraries and entertaining salons, replete with hardwood floors and articulated cream and oak mouldings.

Motick. Centro Cultural Panteón. Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“I think frontiers are breaking apart across the world,” says director and curator Andres Medina, who is creating a blended focus on graffiti writers, Street Artists, master screen printers, illustrators, and painters whose work is informed by elements of street culture like tattoo, dark pop, skater culture.

The 9 month old series of exhibitions and shows have included group shows, installations, and pop up shops by Mexican street heavyweights like Street Artist/muralist Smithe, original 90s stencilist Watchavato, and modern stylemaster Buster Duque, who has helped out with some selected burners on the roof. The tight vision of the shows is quietly bringing inquisitive fans as well.

“So we are getting at least one international visitor per week who wants to know more about our projects,” he says. As an editor of zines and a student of films, he gradually has been defining his focus on curation with themes that have an almost personal touchstone that he develops with the artists along with curator Mariela Gomez, and they both speak about a need for gallery exhibitions to evolve.

KlaseOne. Centro Cultural Panteón. Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“One of the things that excites us the most is the idea of an exhibition as more of a ‘happening’. We want there to be a part that is graphic and a part that is an experience,” he says as he leads us to a separate white walled colonial space where handguns are made from molds in black wax and guests at the opening scrawled missives across makeshift walls related to violence in society. “It’s meant as an interactive critique,” he says, “these are guns that shoot ideas.”

Attendees are not typical art patrons interested only in collecting – for this show about violence and terror, “Dispara” by the Mexico City artist Ciler, the invited guests were policy makers, elected officials, journalists, even Tito Fuentes the lead singer of the popular rock band Molotov, as well as people directly affected by gun violence. “It was a pretty emotional night,” says Mariela Gomez, who recounts the fiery conversations that began when guests realized that they could express their thoughts about gun violence and organized crime, which is more-or-less openly terrorizing certain neighborhoods and cities in the country.

Ciler. “Dispara (nombre ficticio)”. Centro Cultural Panteón. Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ciler. “Dispara (nombre ficticio)”. Centro Cultural Panteón. Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Wachavato. “No Esto No Es Lo Que Fue” Centro Cultural Panteón. Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Wachavato. “No Esto No Es Lo Que Fue” Centro Cultural Panteón. Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“Once everyone was here we found that everyone wanted to make art as well; so they all became part of ‘the happening’,” she says. Guests broke the guns, wrote screeds across the walls, even blasted black paint with a power tool “Everyone was covered in black dust and wax, were breathing some of it” she says,” which goes along with the concept of violence in society – no one can escape it really.”

Still young and at the behest of a fast food business, it’s unclear what kind of mandate Panteón has, but the owner has long term leased the historic building next door to further the show, which will now include his brother’s burger café and a freshly poured concrete mini-skate park and we climb a tattered yet elegant staircase to tour through grand raw spaces that will house martial arts, yoga training and yes, the occasional sports branded pop-up store. It’s a formula attempted before – life-style and entertainment intermixing with the plastic arts – and it will be good to see the integrity of the art game supported here. The balance is hard to strike, but it can be done.

Buster. Centro Cultural Panteón. Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Museum of Toys and Art on the Streets

A Street Art proponent and personal brand champion, Roberto Shimizu is the second generation 30-something who is running the five-story, decade old Museo Del Juguete Antiguo (Antique Toy Museum) aka MUJAM with his ever-curious and professional collector father in the Colonia Doctores neighborhood. A stylistically unremarkable structure in the thick of this middle class eclectic cluster of cantinas, mechanics garages, and a hospital, most of the streets are named after famous physicians and many of the initial Street Artists who painted his parking lot and roof have also gone on to make names for themselves.

Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The Circus. Detail. Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With a few hundred thousand toys carefully arranged in “toy environments” customized from industrial machinery and unusual found items, these surreal scenes may move animatronically or glitter under rotating lights – or get pinched and refracted through specialized viewers. If you are not high on something, there will be no need to do so before entering the meandering homemade and hand-loved MUJAM. Just unbutton your childhood imagination and you’ll find complete display cases of original illustrations and figures of Mexican comedic character Cantinflas, or an arrangement of stuffed bunnies dancing erotically, or a colorful parade of luchador dolls with Shimizu-customized fashions that play with proportions and sometimes reverse their genders – getting married to each other.

Pavel Ioudine. Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The beyond eclectic collection, estimated at only 5% of the total 60-year collection that has been hand-archived and warehoused, is only enhanced by large paintings by ROA or M-City that have graced the walls outside and the 75 or so intermediate and medium sized murals sprinkled through rooms, hallways, pillars, ceilings, stairwells throughout the museum, including a by-invitation-only rooftop gallery.

The younger Shimizu (and new father) weaves in and out of neighborhood streets with us in his truck the same way he navigates the museum, brooding and swerving and pulling aside to hold forth with bits of historical fanfare and numerical details, peppered by behind-the-scenes stories of intrigue and dalliances – all set off by his own striped and checked slim-waisted sartorial selections that effect an elegant carnival barker, a sixties mod rocker, or the mysteriously aloof millionaire in a family board game.

Arty & Chikle. Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Arty & Chikle. Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Arty & Chikle. Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Aligned with more commercial partners in the past when bringing appreciable Street Art names to Mexico City, Roberto says he prefers the organically grown festivals and exhibitions that have taken root in a few cities to the brand-flogging lifestyle-delivering “influencers” who are Snap-chatting their way through a Street Art tour. His own public/private collection of walls that he has organized over the last decade or so is rather impossible to categorize stylistically, veering from the cartoon to folkloric, photorealistic to abstract, magical-mystical to wildstyle bubbles.

With all these participants it is a come-one-come-all collection that reminds you of the vast reenactment of a circus that is under glass on the second floor, a menagerie of strongmen, tigers, lions, bearded ladies, and assorted crowds of various configurations lined up on the periphery of the big show.

Saner in Studio

Saner. Work in progress. Studio Visit. Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

In a gated, if worn but serene, community of two story ranch houses built in the 1960s and 70s, the painter Saner has his studio and home. He meets you at the ornate iron gate to his concrete patio and invites you in while speaking on his phone to see the sun-sharpened shapes inside, a personal welcome replete with mask-painted characters interacting on the dining room wall, two large sculptural facsimiles of him and his wife and bright back deck.

A meteorically-rising yet not flashy spirit on the Street Art circuit, Saner is enjoying steady success with a carefully selected path of public walls, gallery shows and even museum representation in the last decade. Sitting in the small front living room while his beige retriever and muse chews through a basket of dog toys and vies for his masters attention, you can see that Saner’s art world accomplishments haven’t distracted him from a grounded view of Mexican socio-political history, his deep love for its people, and his almost mystical, darkly emotional storytelling.

Saner. Studio Visit. Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

In his studio you see his latest sketchbook that he is slowly building page-by-page with details of figures overlapping and radiating and sometimes dancing in warlike poses among the fern and fauna. His crossed-arm stance while leaning on his worktable tells you that he’s waiting for your ideas to help propel the conversation, partially because he is shy, partially as a challenge. A graffiti writer here during the explosive 1990s scene on the streets and trained as a graphic designer, his identity as a Mexican painter became more important to him as he grew older and he began to be less concerned with emulating European or American visual and cultural language.

Saner. Studio Visit. Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

You look at the hand-illustrations of figures and costume, weaponry, instruments, flowers, feathers, and wild animals, and you realize that any of these could be the paintings you have seen on walls in neighborhoods and canvasses in galleries – suddenly perhaps a little awed to be in this artists sacred studio space. Then the talk turns to his dog and his recent travels across the world and you know that its just one guys’ greatness, that’s all.

3 Argentinian Street Artists in Studio

Elian. Studio Visit. Centro Historico. Mexico City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The thick air is thumping with a live-performance of a 1980s Judas Priest song by the house band in a musical instrument store across the street here in the crowded old central district of the city at lunchtime. With French doors flung open over your head from the second floor, a cloud of green aerosol envelopes the body of Street Artist Elian and creates a silhouette as he coats an organic form carved from wood on the worktable before him. The shape will join others mounted on a wall next week in Toba Gallery as a smaller 3-D interpretation of his abstract compositions that he sprays across massive walls on buildings and even parking garages for festivals and private clients across Europe, the US, Russia, and his native Argentina.

Ever. Studio Visit. Centro Historico. Mexico City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

In this raw colonial former home with chipping paint and rusted hinges, the rooms serve as studios for a number of artists who pass by the small news stand with lottery-tickets and cigarettes before jogging up the central steps that are lit by an open sky. Also readying for the 3-artist show called “Deforme¨ are two Street Art brothers from the scene who have often painted in the same city with him, JAZ and Ever Siempre. Together the three are pushing their creativity beyond the work they are each known for in murals at festivals, each saying they are a little tired of the way the organic and illegal Street Art scene morphed into legal and often approved murals, even though they appreciate being paid by these events that are partially funded by municipalities or commercial interests. A symbol of mobility and fraternidad in the scene, local Street Art/graffiti artist Smithe, who is loaning the studio space to the artists as they prepare, also owns Toba.

JAZ. Studio Visit. Centro Historico. Mexico City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Speaking of galleries, the Celaya brothers have begun a number of commercial enterprises and spaces in the last half-decade, looking for the right formula for capitalizing on the Street Art zeitgeist and partnering with corporate brands. Not far from an enormous mural by the London-based D*Face, their most recent contemporary art gallery in Colonia Roma Norte was featuring a solo show “Trompe L’oeil” by the Italian born, Berlin-based Street Artist/ fine artist Agostino Iacurci as he adds a third dimension to his ornately synthetic forms and sophisticated bright palette. Curated by Vittorio Parisi, the room is spare, the sculptures pleasantly innocent, and slyly humorous.

Agostino Iacurci. “Trompe L’oeil” solo exhibition at Celaya Brothers Gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Keith Haring on a Train

The metro train system in Mexico City, like many aspects of public life over the last two decades, is a faded shade of its previous zeal. It may also be the damage from a large earthquake three months earlier that shook this city, which adds to a feeling of insecurity as you navigate the swarming crowds and watch packed trains pull away while you wait your turn to board. You may also get a bit forcefully pick-pocketed in the middle of the day on one of these trains, as did your author, so you may favor zippers inside your clothing the next time you return.

Keith Haring on a whole car on the Metro. Mexico City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Hearkening back to the lack of public services in New York’s when it was fiscally broke in the 70s and 80s and Street Artists Keith Haring wrote freely on empty ad-spaces in the subway, it felt a little like the spirit of the Street Artist appeared unexpectedly in front of us while we waited for our next underground connection in this magic city. A swath of colorful characters jumping every which way across the full cars, the familiarly active Haring symbols of figures herked and jerked into place while the cars went through a series of starts and sudden stops. The riders slid back and forth, clutching their straphangers, and we quickly fumbled for a shot of this Mexico City train covered with the welcoming sight of a New York Street Artist who sparkled at the dawn of the go-go portion of the 80s, soon taken in the sadness of the AIDS-panic portion that struck the city.

Undoubtedly, the Street Art and graffiti scene continue to expand and morph into other scenes and venues – many now inside. For some, this is anathema to the true spirit of the mark-making practice that first took root in unsanctioned acts in illegal places, often in open defiance of accepted norms. For others, this route indoors only strengthens the appeal of voices that are now speaking inside the organizational structures we build, and it is remarkable to see such a diverse and lively number of examples throughout this doorway to Latin America aided by very gracious and friendly Mexican hosts at every stop we made.


Below are more images and video from the Antique Toy Museum, MUJAM – Mexico City

Alegria Prado. Roof top. Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ear One has a good play on words here, and a nod to cartoonist Vaughn Bodē, whose work inspired a generation of graffiti writers on the Roof top. Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

LELO. Roof top. Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ovrlnds. Roof top. Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

NAS. Roof top. Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Alina Kiliwa . OJE . Alegria Prado. Roof top. Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

EsMARQ. Roof top. Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Noel. Roof top. Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Paola Delfin. Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Paola Delfin. Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Curiot. Detail. Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Curiot. Detail. Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This toy monkey served as the inspiration for a political mural by artist Erica Il Cane a few years ago visible to the street. See A Mexican Mural “Manifesto”, Blackened Flag Colors, and Censorship. Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Daniel Bauchsbaum. Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Daniel Bauchsbaum. Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM). Mexico, City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 


This is the second of two articles with BSA in Mexico City in collaboration with UN Berlin, it was originally published on the Urban Nation website, and the project is funded in part with the support of Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art (UN) in Berlin.


Additional coverage by BSA in Mexico City:

An Unlikely Museum for Street Art? MUJAM is in the MX MIX : BSA X UN X Mexico City: Day 1

Saner, Mexican Muralist and Painter, Studio Visit. BSA X UN X Mexico City: Day 2

Panteón and Watchavato “No Esto No Es Lo Que Fue” Opens In Mexico City

Exploring New Techniques and Processes with Elian, Jaz and Ever in Mexico City

BSA Images Of The Week: 11.26.17 Mexico City Special


This article is also published on the Urban Nation museum website:

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Mexico City: Aerosol Artists, Aztecs and Magic on the Street

Mexico City: Aerosol Artists, Aztecs and Magic on the Street

Every city has its own particular energy; it’s own articulated rhythm, its own unique chaos.

Mexico City’s is full of flourish and aspiration and fascination for the international new, while firmly rooted in respect for the past. When it comes to Street Art, murals, graffiti and discordant sub-cultural art movements that can disrupt the norm, this city shows the capacity to absorb and adapt and to continue moving forward, providing meaningful insights into the true nature of its people.

Curiot. Detail. For Lienzo Capital Project with Street Art MUJAM. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This magic city of more than 20 million is often referred to as a gateway to Latin America: economically, socially, and politically. With high tech industry, banks, multi-national companies, a university system that serves 300,000 students, 150 museums, three UNESCO World Heritage sites… you can see why. With heavy traffic despite a subway system and many forms of public transportation, it can take hours for you to cross Mexico City (Distrito Federal (D.F)) and you can be assured that you’ll probably never see all 16 boroughs.

El Mac. Detail. All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As Street Art and its associated movements move through Central and South America, invariably D.F. appears as an important tierra cultural to traverse. From an active graffiti scene and occasional mural festivals to a growing gallery representation and increasing museum interest, urban artists are capturing the attention of the Americas, making heads spin in public space. With Mexico City capturing nearly all the aspects at once, today we take a look at the city and give you only a few examples of the art in the streets here.

El Mac. All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The September 19th earthquake of 2017 shook Mexico City exactly 32 years after 10,000 lost their lives in a larger one, the largest. With broken sidewalks and taped off buildings still as physical evidence, you can hear in the voices the trauma that rocked tall buildings back and forth like huge ships on the sea. In addition to these more physical shocks, the city has been rocked in recent years by a rising evidence of frightening power shifts relating to drug traffickers, accusations of institutional corruption, and a sharply rising economic inequality that is transforming developing/developed societies across the globe.

Built upon the ruins of the Aztec city called Tenochtitlán, which was one of the worlds largest in the 15th century, Mexico City appears persistently ebullient when banding together against adversity. Determined to excel beyond the horrors of conquest by the Spanish that decimated an entire indigenous culture, still the ruins rise above the ground and this multi-hued global city rumbles forward with determination.

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Sleek high rises and brightly patterned folkloric art and aerosol sprayed graffiti tags next to massive murals all blend and swirl like the jarabe Tapatío hat dance from block to block – a decisive commixture of the “brand new” with a heritage of indigenous/invader cultures that ruled here hundreds of years before. Today it’s a hybrid of purposeful optimism and wizened survival instincts that pushes the city forward, despite the shocks endured.

SEGO. All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The magic and realism so famously combined by authors like Garcia Márquez and Esquivel along with the brutal honesty of Mexican filmmakers like Inarritu, del Toro and Cuaron is fused onto the bricks of colonial mansions and cinderblock industrial neighborhoods like Roma-Condesa and Centro Histórico. These colonias and others like Xochimilco and Coyoacán are historic, commercial, somehow always in transition.

Buster (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As you walk and weave over the chunks of disrupted sidewalks, the local mechanic’s car-repair taking place on the curb is complimented by the smell of stacks of fresh tortillas from the tiny tortilleria. The booming tented markets of witty pop-culture t-shirts, knock-off sneakers, and decorative phone cases are sharing your memory space with the eye-popping magenta, sea foam green, and lemon sherbert yellow hues of huge layered toile netting as quinceañera skirts plumped full of Dior and displayed regally behind full glass windows, shop after shop.

The narrow street in old Centro Historico surges with the sound of a live heavy metal band demonstrating the equipment at a music store at lunch time, and three Argentinian Street Artists (Ever, Elian, and Jaz) are creating plumes of aerosol paint from the opened second floor veranda doors across the street while home-made Judas Priest reverberates over and around the slowly moving bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Arty & Chikle. “Only Love”. Street Art MUJAM in collaboration with the Mexico City National Youth Institute for Young Adults. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Of Mexico, “it’s always high noon and what glows is fuchsia and what’s dead is dead,” said author Henry Miller in his book Black Spring, and some spirit of that rings true here where so many objects and situations you encounter can be amazing and revelatory and yet locals simply roll them in a tortilla and toss it on a hot oiled comal for dinner.

The music options alone can be illustrative of the variety here: Las Madrigalistas are performing holiday classics in the Palacio Bellas Artes, Ricky Martin just played free for 100,000 in the Zocalo, there is an active punk scene that rivals many, a hiphop scene that draws fans from nearby cities, and a reverence for 1980s artists like Depeche Mode and The Misfits, and an almost religious devotion to Morrisey.

D*Face (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The scale of the murals can be as vast as the city, equally eclectically handmade and warm. Thanks to a rich heritage of mural-making and artists like Orozco, Rivera, and Siqueiros in the last century, the new generation of Mexicanos are interpolating the currents that ripple and wave through a society wedded to fierce independence and tradition. Today it is again rocked by our instant access to information and a global sense of modernity.

JET (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Interezni Kazki. All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This means that an international Street Art scene in D.F. features not only Mexican alchemists like Saner, Curiot, Farid Rueda, Lesuperdemon, Dhear and Sego (among others) but also invites the English D*Face, Italians Ericailcane and BLU, Belgian ROA, Los Angelianos Retna and El Mac, Polish M-City, Argentian JAZ and German duo Herakut to influence the voice of the street. With a visual wealth of inspiration and disruptive or unusual imagery in play on the street, this still  jittery city smiles and confronts you as the year turns, a response that is in flux and fiesta, sorrow and memory, outrage and magic.

ROA. All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

While traveling through the city with Roberto Shimizu, a central figure in the modern Street Art/mural scene here, and by visiting Street Artists and critical curators and organizers in studios and alternative spaces inside and outside the city, we garnered a greater appreciation for the complexity of the story here. It is distinctly different from the model we’ve seen elsewhere and explains the less showy trajectory that this still organic ecosystem has taken.

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As in most cities today you’ll find the organic and autonomous quality of works is best represented by one-off, handmade individual pieces of art and stickers throughout neighborhoods, many anonymous. These are not the large scale legal murals that unfamiliar observers sometimes refer to as Street Art. These are still the lifeblood of any real Street Art scene and are often indicators of its truer eclectic nature.

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Maybe because there isn’t a large collector base for this work, or because some brands/marketers have already cheapened its image a bit, but Street Art hasn’t blossomed in the gallery world here to a great extent. Instead, true cultural curators like Shimizu have consistently led it directly to his festival programs or his family’s Mexico City’s Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM), and professors at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) are teaching about it to students .

Milamores and El Flaco. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We usually find the true nature of Street Art here is still in the streets – and in the artists community. In the Chulula area of nearby Puebla outside Mexico City, the mysterious renaissance seer named Milamores has quietly curated walls of many local and international artists over the last half decade, offering his compound and dogs for rest and companionship in a supportive artists space. Together with video animation artist Flaco he is presenting Street Art via Virtual Reality experiences that are in tandem with his organically grown mural program. Built on the site of a collapsed building from the 1985 earthquake, the artist/activist collective and community garden Huerto Roma Verde provides classes and workshops on art, sustainable architecture, gardening, and theater and has helped many artists to with mural opportunities as well.

Diana Bama . Martin Ferreira. Huerto Roma Verde. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Diana Bama . Martin Ferreira. Huerto Roma Verde. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As an emblem of the conflicting and harmonious forces at play, we cite the relatively recent mural painted by the Spanish Street Artist Escif on the wall of the Chihuahua housing complex on the Plaza of Three Cultures just north of the city center. Illustrating the privately funded public projects that Street Artists are doing now throughout cities, this one plumbs the unhealed wounds and still unanswered questions of a shocking event of political repression almost 50 years ago here in the plaza designed by Mario Pani.

Not only does the plaza physically join together a Spanish colonial church and the remains of a pre-Columbian Aztec temple with the 13 story housing complex, the square is most known today for the October 1968 suppression of a student movement where troops ran directly over the ruins and fired on a peaceful rally and secret police captured and tortured student leaders who were speaking from the balcony. Protest art and public installations about the 2014 Iguala mass kidnapping of 43 disappeared students recall the stories from 1968 today, and many make connections between the events.

Unidentified Artist. Installation in El Centro Historico for the 43 Desaparecidos. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Some academics have said the crushing of the student movement was part of a secret “dirty war” by the government to quiet dissent and present a unified Mexico image to the world ahead of the upcoming Olympics, but Shimizu tells us that visiting politicians to Escif’s new wall are pleased with the mural and made a tour by bus with guests to admire it. A monument to the Tlatelolco massacre stands in the plaza memorializing the events, and Escif made a few statements about his interpretation of his mural.

“As in my previous works, there is not a limited meaning in the ‘Chihuahua Mural’, but as many meanings as people try to approach it with,” said Escif to us recently about the two suited figures. He discusses his research into the events that took place, but ultimately he leaves the painting more open to interpretation. “Those two guys painted on the wall can be secretive executives, military officers, corporate people or anybody. That will depend on who sees the wall and his previous experiences.”

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For visitors to Mexico City looking for the local Street Art or graffiti scene it is helpful to recognize that this moment for a near-global fascination for art in the streets is here also intertwined with a national and local history, cultural pride, and the treasured heritage of indigenous peoples.

While so-called “western” countries may see a rebellious disaffected rage or critique as an overarching narrative for the graffiti and Street Art scene in New York, London, or Berlin, it may be that Mexico City, and Latin America by extension, is also very cognizant of its roots, in love with them even, always infusing new work with a certain respect for their progenitors. For an art practice that is characterized in part for its ephemerality the context of this particular urban environment reminds you of its often remarkable resilience.

Dueke . Miss1 Guette for MUJAM. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

RETNA. The Beauty Project, 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Curiot (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Curiot. Detial. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

SINKO (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Interezni Kazki. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Interezni Kazki. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Kill Joy . Mazatl. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Fusca .  Blast. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Erica Ilcane. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


This is the first of two articles with BSA in Mexico City in collaboration with UN Berlin, it was originally published on the Urban Nation website, and the project is funded in part with the support of Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art (UN) in Berlin.

Read Part II here:

A Street View From Inside the Doors of Mexico City ; Galleries, Studios, Museums, and the Metro


Additional coverage by BSA in Mexico City:

An Unlikely Museum for Street Art? MUJAM is in the MX MIX : BSA X UN X Mexico City: Day 1

Saner, Mexican Muralist and Painter, Studio Visit. BSA X UN X Mexico City: Day 2

Panteón and Watchavato “No Esto No Es Lo Que Fue” Opens In Mexico City

Exploring New Techniques and Processes with Elian, Jaz and Ever in Mexico City

BSA Images Of The Week: 11.26.17 Mexico City Special


This article is also published on the Urban Nation museum website:

 

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BSA “Images Of The Year” for 2017 (VIDEO)

BSA “Images Of The Year” for 2017 (VIDEO)

Of the thousands of images he took this year in places like New York, Berlin, Scotland, Hong Kong, Sweden, French Polynesia, Barcelona, and Mexico City, photographer Jaime Rojo found that Street Art and graffiti are more alive than every before. From aerosol to brush to wheat-paste to sculpture and installations, the individual acts of art on the street can be uniquely powerful – even if you don’t personally know where or who it is coming from. As you look at the faces and expressions it is significant to see a sense of unrest, anger, fear. We also see hope and determination.

Every Sunday on BrooklynStreetArt.com, we present “Images Of The Week”, our weekly interview with the street. Primarily New York based, BSA interviewed, shot, and displayed images from Street Artists from more than 100 cities over the last year, making the site a truly global resource for artists, fans, collectors, gallerists, museums, curators, academics, and others in the creative ecosystem. We are proud of the help we have given and thankful to the community for what you give back to us and we hope you enjoy this collection – some of the best from 2017.

Brooklyn Street Art 2017 Images of the Year by Jaime Rojo includes the following artists;

Artists included in the video are: Suitswon, Curiot, Okuda, Astro, Sixe Paredes, Felipe Pantone, Hot Tea, Add Fuel, Hosh, Miss Van, Paola Delfin, Pantonio, Base23, R1, Jaune, Revok, Nick Walker, 1UP Crew, SotenOne, Phat1, Rime MSK, Martin Whatson, Alanis, Smells, UFO907, Kai, Tuts, Rambo, Martha Cooper, Lee Quinoes, Buster, Adam Fujita, Dirty Bandits, American Puppet, Disordered, Watchavato, Shepard Fairey, David Kramer, Yoko Ono, Dave The Chimp, Icy & Sot, Damien Mitchell, Molly Crabapple, Jerkface, Isaac Cordal, SacSix, Raf Urban, ATM Street Art, Stray Ones, Sony Sundancer, ROA, Telmo & Miel, Alexis Diaz, Space Invader, Nasca, BK Foxx, BordaloII, The Yok & Sheryo, Arty & Chikle, Daniel Buchsbaum, RIS Crew, Pichi & Avo, Lonac, Size Two, Cleon Peterson, Miquel Wert, Pyramid Oracle, Axe Colours, Swoon, Outings Project, Various & Gould, Alina Kiliwa, Tatiana Fazalalizadeh, Herakut, Jamal Shabaz, Seth, Vhils, KWets1, FinDac, Vinz Feel Free, Milamores & El Flaco, Alice Pasquini, Os Gemeos, Pixel Pancho, Kano Kid, Gutti Barrios, 3 x 3 x 3, Anonymouse, NeSpoon, Trashbird, M-city, ZoerOne, James Bullowgh, and 2501.

 

Cover image of Suits Won piece with Manhattan in the background, photo by Jaime Rojo.

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