All posts tagged: Paola Delfin

BSA Images Of The Week: 04.07.19

BSA Images Of The Week: 04.07.19

Many images this week are from our short visit to Querétaro, Mexico this week – where, among other things, we saw first hand many of the murals mounted by the festival Nueve Arte Urbano over the past few years.  Each festival around the world is unique to its local culture – with the possible exception of the highly commercial ones that are self-styling as a franchise of cool McArt dipped in tangy “Street” flavored sauce. We had a good survey of this mural/street art/graffiti scene in the context of Mexico’s historic mural masters, and a true sense of how counterculture can be embraced by so-called “mainstream” culture for the betterment of both.

In short, the DNA of this festival is not about self-promotion but engaging community in meaningful dialogue, respecting tradition of indigenous culture, and embracing the modern day rebels who have brought art to the streets in myriad ways. Combined with an unprecedented 101 photo exhibition of graffiti, Street Art, and urban culture mounted on the streets that was too meta for our brains, we saw people walking the walk, not just talking the talk. We only wish we had more time, and a drone!

Additionally this week we have a few more favorite shots from a quick trip to Berlin last week. Berlin is basically Brooklyn’s sister city and it was also in the full throes of Spring, with long lines at the all-night dance clubs way after the sun came up. This weekend it looks like Brooklyn is warming up too – almost beer garden time!

Until then, let’s head over to Bamonte’s for a vodka martini with the fine men and women of what’s left of Italian American Williamsburg here in Brooklyn. This is an institution that’s 119 years old lined with framed photos of famous Italian Americans and celebrities who ate there like Telly Savalas and that guy from the Sopranos!

No music, only the clinking of glasses and animated storytelling and some people who may have been dining here when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn – all eating lobster tails, shrimp cocktail, clams oreganata, iceberg lettuce salads, pastas, meat balls, fish, sautéed porkchops, scalloped potatoes, green beans, chicken parmesan, and blueberry pie or tiramisu. Okay it’s not five star, you big hotshot, but it’s at least as good as your Aunt Rosa’s kitchen, amiright? Bamontes not good enough for you now, you big Broccolini?

And the portions, my god, you won’t need to eat again until Good Friday.

So here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring 007, 1UP Crew, Calladitos, City Kitty, Clown Soldier, CS SZYMAN, Deih XLF, drsc0, Ger-Man, La Madriguera Grafica, Mantra, Nespoon, Paola Delfin, Santiago Savi, Victor Lopez, and Voxx Romana.

007 Unicorn in Berlin (photo © Jaime Rojo)
1UP Crew. Urban Spree Berlin (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Mantra. Detail. Nueve Arte Urbano / Centro Cultural Manuel Gomez Marin. Queretaro, Mexico. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Mantra. Detail. Nueve Arte Urbano / Centro Cultural Manuel Gomez Marin. Queretaro, Mexico. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Calladitos. Nueve Arte Urbano / Centro Cultural Manuel Gomez Marin. Queretaro, Mexico. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Eduardo Ruiz . Santiago Savi. Detail. Nueve Arte Urbano / Centro Cultural Manuel Gomez Marin. Queretaro, Mexico. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Eduardo Ruiz . Santiago Savi. Nueve Arte Urbano / Centro Cultural Manuel Gomez Marin. Queretaro, Mexico. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Victor Lopez / La Madriguera Grafica. Detail. Nueve Arte Urbano / Centro Cultural Manuel Gomez Marin. Queretaro, Mexico. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Victor Lopez / La Madriguera Grafica. Nueve Arte Urbano / Centro Cultural Manuel Gomez Marin. Queretaro, Mexico. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Paola Delfin on the dome. Nueve Arte Urbano / Centro Cultural Manuel Gomez Marin. Queretaro, Mexico. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Tania Quezada . Diego Afro-Cruz. Detail. Nueve Arte Urbano / Centro Cultural Manuel Gomez Marin. Queretaro, Mexico. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

SC SZYMAN. Urban Spree Berlin. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Ger-Man. Berlin. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
NeSpoon. Urban Nation Museum Berlin. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
City Kitty . Clown Soldier . Dr. Drsc0 (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Ali Six. Berlin. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Deih. Urban Nation Museum Berlin. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
VOXX. Urban Spree Berlin. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Untitled. Queretaro, Mexico. April 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
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Street Artists At Munich Museum Present the Portrait, “IMAGO” Curated by Elisabetta Pajer

Street Artists At Munich Museum Present the Portrait, “IMAGO” Curated by Elisabetta Pajer

From cave carvings in Angoulême in western France 27,000 years ago to your daily, perhaps hourly selfie on a cell phone today, our desire to depict the figure is as much a reflection of the artist and their times as it’s sitter.

A new show at MUCA Munich (Museum of Urban Contemporary Art) opening today invites 30 primarily Street Artists to choose a significant reference portrait of any historical time, country of origin, or artistic movement and interpret their inspirations into a portrait.

Whether drawing influences from Vermeer, Courbet, or Lucien Freud, each artist ultimately represents their own life experiences in their choice of subject and the technique of portrayal. Perhaps that is why curator Elisabetta Pajer has asked each of the artists to give us a statement with their work to help put it into context. Pajer tells us that she looks at the collection of works and the statements create a ‘harmonic mosaic’ of these figurative and written testimonies.

“These artists have sought out inspiration from many mediums that portraiture finds itself interpreted within,” says Pajer. “Taking their themes and inspiration from classical paintings, sculpture, film, theater, photographer, interactions, culture, religion, and science. Exhibiting a great understanding of the complexity of self-reflection with art as the catalyst.”

We’re pleased to be able to present some of the artists and their own words here.


Andreas Englund

Andreas Englund. Tripping. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

TRIPPING
Media: Oil on canvas
Size: 116 x 90 cm
 
-Statement
“I chose to tribute my artwork to the ‘‘Portrait of a smoking man’’ by Anders Zorn 1860-1920 – Swedens most internationally acclaimed artist. Born in my home region and very inspirational when it comes to his sketchy technique. By doing my own version of this masterpiece with my superhero, I have learned more about ‘‘the great Zorn’’ and his technique.”

Martha Cooper

Martha Cooper. Futura 1983. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

FUTURA 1983
Media: Archival pigment print
Size: 50,8 x 76,20 cm

 
-Statement
“This is a 1983 photo of Futura, a legendary New York City graffiti writer, with a classic can of Krylon spray paint. Thirty-five years later, Futura is still spray painting and I am still taking photos of graffiti writers.”

Icy + Sot

Icy & Sot. Under The Water Light. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artists)

UNDER THE WATER LIGHT
Media: Stencil spray paint on canvas
Size: 91,5 x 123 cm
 
-Statement
“This portrait is part a series we created reflecting on the relationship between human and nature. Nature plays a big role in human lifespan, but nowadays people have distanced from nature. With this work, we want to show humans closer to nature and pay a tribute to it.”

Swoon

Swoon. Thalassa. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

THALASSA
Media: Screenprint on paper with coffee stain and hand painting with collage mounted on board
Size: 123 × 138 cm
 
-Statement
“The name Thalassa is Greek word for ‘‘ocean’’, a primordial incarnation of the sea that is not often personified. Thalassa is said to have given birth to all tribes of fish in the sea. She is the pull of the sea that comes from inside the salt water in our blood. ‘Thalassa was originally created for New Orleans. It was the months after the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf in 2010, and this body of water that I’d loved since I was a child was in peril. As I drew Thalassa surging up from the water I felt her rising like a wake up call, one reminds us of our inseparability from the sea. When I stand in front of the ocean, the word that always appears first in my mind is “mother”. For me there is no mistaking the sense that the sea is our first mother.’ ”

Borondo

Gonzalo Borondo & Diego Lopez Bueno. Selfie Elvis II. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo © Blind Eye Factory)

GONZALO BORONDO & DIEGO LOPEZ BUENO
SELFIE ELVIS II
Media: Acrylic and plaster on wood – Plasma TV 50’’- Video on loop – 16:9 Digital – Color
Size: 7 panels each – 120 x 70 x 1 cm + 1 TV
 
-Statement
“Inspired by several passport photos found within the Marseilles “Marché aux Puches” (FR), Borondo and Lopez Bueno have designed an installation project with the title “Selfie Elvis II”. Imagination is the basis of the multimedia work with self-portraits of a man recalling the contemporary “selfie”. There are dozens of frames describing human aspects and obsessions. They have been digitally elaborated and assembled in a video by López Bueno. Borondo portrayed Elvis with acrylic on wood and applying gypsum, then scratched with sharp instruments. Faces appeared by subtraction, the absence tells about an ancestral and intangible dimension, wondering about its existence. Is Elvis looking at himself or us in that picture? And what about our images, do they look like us or they are just our dreams? Elvis is not there, Elvis is still there.”

Addison Karl

Addison Karl. Kamassa. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

KAMASSA
Media: Bronze, edition 1 of 10
Size: 30,48 x 20,32 x 15,24 cm
 
 
-Statement
“Portraiture in context to sculpture and form – referencing the masterpieces from both European Classical and Neoclassical time periods. From a culture l mirror of taking inspiration from Gods and Goddess of the ancient world, my sculpture’s subject is focused on a contemporary Chickasaw Elder. Using portraiture as a means of Cultural Preservation but equally re-appropriating classic sensibilities of art history to a Native Cultural narrative. “

 


Various & Gould

Various & Gould. Trigger (Rokhaya Diallo). IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artists)

TRIGGER (ROKHAYA DIALLO)
Media: Acrylic on canvas
Size: 200 x 140 cm
-Statement
“Our portrait of Rokhaya Diallo refers to an iconic work by Nikide Saint Phalle: The artistically revised film still “Daddy” shows the artist pointing a gun directly at the viewer. Even almost 50 years later, her eye and the muzzle of her rifle leave no doubt that she is serious about it. Anyone who sees the work feels immediately like coming into the firing line.
In our painting, the French journalist and film maker Rokhaya Diallo takes the place and – freely recreated – also the pose of Niki de Saint Phalle. Thus, an early feministic, vigorous artist of the twentieth century is followed by a modern, committed internet feminist with no less strong verve than her predecessor. Both women are even the same age at the time of the illustration. Only instead of the rifle, Rokhaya Diallo relies on her very own “weapon”, the hashtag. At first glance, it may seem more harmless than a rifle, but in times of #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo it can be an even more powerful tool.”

 


Fintan Magee

Fintan Magee The Removalist. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

THE REMOVALIST
Media: Canvas and acrylic on wall installation
 
-Statement
“The portrait has been ripped off the canvas and dragged across the ground and projected onto the wall. The artist has destroyed the canvas and made the portrait ephemeral, rendering it worthless and unsellable. The work comments on the commodification of artwork and the uneasy and paradoxical relationship between artist and the financier of his artworks. With street art becoming increasingly commoditized and contributing to gentrification this work doesn’t aim to make any grand statements on how art should or shouldn’t be produced, only highlight the illusionary, absurdist and contradictory image the art industry presents of itself.”

VHILS

VHILS. Matta. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

MATTA
Media: Bas-relief carving on plasterboard mounted on metal structure
Size: 181 x 120,5 x 34 cm
 
-Statement

“Resorting to a bas-relief carving technique, applied here to a free-standing structure of plasterboard, this piece is a homage to the work of Gordon Matta-Clark, which became a major influence on me after I first saw it at an exhibition in Portugal, in 2002. Matta-Clark was one of the first artists to look at the urban space as a space of creation and reflection on the human condition in the contemporary times we live in. Those are the considerations I try to translate in my own work too, reflecting about the human condition in the contemporary times we live in.”


Andrea Wan

Andrea Wan. Being Of Light. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

BEING OF LIGHT
Media: Ink on paper
Size: 50 x 70 cm
 
-Statement

“Fascinated by the lively and dynamic landscape in the paintings of native Canadian Artist Emily Carr, I chose one of her most renown works, Indian Church (1929) as the subject of reinterpretation. Seemingly more accurate than a realistic approach, Carr’s abstraction of nature elements not only communicated to me that nature is vast and subliminal but also ever-changing in form and expression. The white church which stands calmly in the midst of the mystical environment inspired me to personify the subject as a being who is in tune with all that’s around her.”


DALeast

DALeast. FIII. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

FIII
Media: Acrylic on canvas
Size: 100 x 80 cm
 
-Statement
“A still moment of Fiii standing in the windy land, which is existing inside the transitory gathering of the particles of the magical net.”

IMAGO: A History of Portraits opens today at MUCA Museum of Urban And Contemporary Art. Munich. Curated by Elisabetta Pajer the show runs until November 2018.

IMAGO is a show dedicated to the history of portrait: over 30 artists from five different continents are invited to pay homage and interpret a portrait in their medium of their choice. IMAGO aims to lead visitors through different artistic eras, helping discover the international history and evolution of the portrait.

Artists include:

Jef Aerosol
ASKEW ONE
Borondo
Vesod Brero
Martha Cooper
DALeast
Paola Delfin
Anna Piera Di Silvestre
Andreas Englund
Evoca 1
Ricky Lee Gordon
Hubertus Hamm
Handiedan
Icy&Sot
Addison Karl
Know Hope
Klone Yourself
Fintan Magee
Mario Mankey
Marco Mazzoni
Antony Micallef
Miss Van
Nychos
Sepe
David Shillinglaw
Søren Solkær
Sten Lex
SWOON
TelmoMiel
TWOONE

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Trans-graffiti and the Trans-National “Mextonia” Festival

Trans-graffiti and the Trans-National “Mextonia” Festival

Mexico and Estonia; an unlikely couple. But sometimes love is like that. In a time when orthodoxy globally is seemingly self-combusting and obviously falling short in meeting the needs of people, it is perhaps no surprise that the unique hybrids of shared strengths are those that arise and can lead.

Consider “Mextonia”.

Édgar Sánchez and Sigre Tompel. Mextonia Co-Founders. Mextonia Part 1. Tallinn, Estonia. June 2017. (photo © Martha Cooper)

A cultural love child combining the traditions of these two nations has resulted in a surprising amount of cross-cultural exchange and mural making in the last year or two. Today we have just some of the artworks made during a two-part event held in each country, the first in Tallinn, Estonia in June 2017 and the second in Querétaro, Mexico during March 2018.

The unlikely pairing by two sociological searchers who love graffiti, Street Art, and the mural traditions of the past as much as the modern mural phenomena now speaks a common language of aesthetics in multiple spheres.

Renata Mtz. Mextonia Part 1. Tallinn, Estonia. June 2017. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Together Édgar Sánchez and Sigre Tompel have mounted two large cross-culture jams, attracting numerous artists and trans-national interpreters (nearly 100), presenting and renewing interests in history, indigenous people, traditions, and the environment challenges of today.

By highlighting the similarities and distinct differences in traditional and modern culture, these two are the magnetic field around whom a multi-faceted public art practice is developing that showcases urban and mural artists.

You haven’t seen a hybrid like this before.

Goal. Mextonia Part 1. Tallinn, Estonia. June 2017. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Together the two say that the effort is “a reminder of what makes us feel proud of being Mexicans, Estonians, and even better, what unites us beyond our nationalities: our cultural freedom. Our responsibility of making this place, this world, a better place than how we found it.”

The enterprise is frequently steeped in metaphor and symbolism and a search for meanings in the overlapping of traditions. One that is often sited is the Blue Deer/Fern Blossom intersection.

In México, according to ancient Huichol tribe tradition, people go to hunt Blue Deer to search for wisdom and inner vision. Searching is also involved in the Estonian ancient tradition of searching for the Fern Blossom that is said to appear only during the summer equinox of June, which they call Jaaniöö. Both traditional cultural stories represent prosperity, protection and fertility, they say.

Sänk. Mextonia Part 1. Tallinn, Estonia. June 2017. (photo © Martha Cooper)

“Mextonia is a gift to remind the world about the Spirit; a collective soul in the shape of a Blue Deer, in finally finding a Fern Blossom,” say Sánchez and Tompel.

For Mr. Sánchez, the Mexican co-creator and author of the Mextonia Manifesto, there is a belief that there are larger forces at work in the Universe and that Mextonia is a platform and vehicle for the new generation.

When reading his observations you will see that the platform is hoping to lead Millennial artists to reconnect with a sense of culture and identity, two things that are sadly slipping away due to the dopamine-laced fire hose of mass media stimuli, social and otherwise, that we are collectively exposed to.

Brushleee. Mextonia Part 1. Tallinn, Estonia. June 2017. (photo © Martha Cooper)

For Tompel, the Estonian co-director of this bi-national transcultural journey, “Mextonia was born from a personal ‘vision quest’ to better understand the native wisdom of Mesoamerican natives.”

She says the enthusiasm and knowledge of Sánchez guided her to better appreciate ancient traditions like those of the Mexican Huichol tribe, and that this new appreciation enlivened her interest in her own homeland of Estonia, which she began to study in earnest. Together, the two of them have poured the molten iron of their combined roots and cast a foundation that many artists are now adding their interpretation to.

Markus Richard Tallvee. Mextonia Part 1. Tallinn, Estonia. June 2017. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Whether it is costume or symbols or rites or ceremony, you can see a deep desire to be inclusive in the styles and expressions. The spring festival, for example, extended its message with the collaboration with the PangeaSeed Sea Walls effort, headed by Tré Packard and his team in pursuit of “combining art and activism on this level and caliber to champion for the oceans,” and often sited aspiration.

Tania Quezada. Mextonia Part 1. Tallinn, Estonia. June 2017. (photo © Martha Cooper)

“Art and public activism can educate and inspire the global community to help save our water resources,” says Packard. “Regardless of its location, large metropolitan city or small coastal town, all drains lead to the ocean and the ocean provides every breath we take. The Earth cannot exist without healthy oceans and water resources.”

With this in mind the city of Querétaro was chosen for the multiple aqua-related public artworks as a way to draw attention to the city’s own reliance on water that is transported from a hundred kilometers outside the city. This chapter of “Mextonia” was also known as “Water is One”.

Ricardo Moste. Mextonia Part 1. Tallinn, Estonia. June 2017. (photo © Martha Cooper)

The experience and study has even helped coin new terms, like transgraffiti and transgraffiti muralism.

“Muralism and Street Art have proven to transform cultural symbols and catalyze culture,” says Sánchez. “Now, Transgraffitti is a trans-personal kind of muralism, which distances itself from both; names and pop culture, by taking deep cultural symbols and re-expressing them in a transcendental and contemporary way.”

Reyben. Mextonia Part 1. Tallinn, Estonia. June 2017. (photo © Martha Cooper)

In this respect, it is a unique view of Street Artist and graffiti writers in contemporary practice from an evolutionary perspective. In the Water is One Manifesto 2.0 that was released this spring the organizers write:

“In today’s world we see millions of young people expressing on walls, influencing the streets and society. They write their names to identify with their space: we call them graffiti writers. As they grow and explore, some look beyond the writing of a personal name and embark into trans-personal-creation.

They research social challenges, paint visual metaphors and transcend borders. They discover the power of their painting over streets and culture. They become a kind of contemporary shaman, producing street incantations.

This is the transpersonal-graffiti, and we call it Transgraffiti muralism.”

Mr. Cinzah. Mextonia Part 1. Tallinn, Estonia. June 2017. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Sermob. Mextonia Part 1. Tallinn, Estonia. June 2017. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Jonky. Mextonia Part 1. Tallinn, Estonia. June 2017. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Mextonia Part 1. Tallinn, Estonia. June 2017. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Mextonia Part 1. Tallinn, Estonia. June 2017. (photo © Martha Cooper)

As BSA correspondent from Tallinn and Querétaro, veteran photojournalist and ethnographer Martha Cooper attended the installations, exhibitions, celebrations, and ceremonies in both countries and she collected a wealth of important information to share.

In her own words Cooper says, “Street art is a worldwide art movement and Mextonia has shown how creative two different cultures can be when combined. Excellent idea – brilliantly realized.”

As mentioned Part 2 in Querétaro, Mexico was a collaboration with Pangea Seed and it was a concerted effort to highlight water resources,  and “The Water Is One” theme was reflected in the murals.

“We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.”
~Jacques Yves Cousteau

Jason Botkin. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

While these 40 or so photos are resplendent in conveying the spirit and dedication shown daily by participants, they are ultimately a very small sample of the hundreds Cooper took.

Similarly a blog platform like this cannot comprehensively cover the events or the perspectives in their entirety, but we hope that you can gain a greater appreciation for the depth of feeling, scholarship, and talent that is represented here in Martha’s photographs and our descriptions.

Jason Botkin. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

We conclude our text here with an interview that Ms. Cooper conducted for BSA with Sigre Tompel to better understand the breadth of the festival and also to get more detail about a sacred spiritual ceremony that Cooper attended with native peoples and the artists during her Mexican visit this spring.

Martha Cooper: Can we call “Water Is One” in Querétaro Part 2 of Mextonia? Are you planning Part 3?
Sigre Tompel: Yes, it is a sequence of Mextonia, part 2 (Mextonia in Estonia was the element of Fire, Water Is One was the element of Water. Yes, we are planning part 3 and 4 (Earth and Air).

Jason Botkin. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)
Montreal-based artist Jason Botkin met and exceeded human and creative limits at one point by successfully and arduously rappelling down, up, and around this great dome to recreate an astounding version of the Aztec calendar which can only be appreciated by flying overhead. Ms. Cooper tells us that all artists working on the cupola or dome were required to have a periodic medical check to ensure their good health during the installation of the frescoes.

Jason Botkin. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Nueve Art Urbano Team)

Martha Cooper: How many artists participated in both the Estonian and Mexican festivals?
Sigre Tompel: In Estonia we had 60 artists and in Mexico 33 – together with graffiti writers and neighboring walls of the Dome. These 5 artists were actually in both festivals – Aaron Glasson (New Zealand), Sänk (Estonia), Sermob (Mexico), Renata (Mexico), Goal (Mexico). Our whole core crew is a total of 15 people.

Jason Botkin. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Martha Cooper: What was the name for the type of group that performed the ceremony at the walls? What was burning in the pot that produced the smoke? Copal?
Sigre Tompel: They are called Concheros, they use Copal , smudging for blessing. The message was smudging the artists to thank them for their work and to bless their way back home, so they can arrive healthy and happy. The name of this particular group of Concheros is “In Xochitl In Cuicatl”, Flor y Canto (Flower and Singing) and they are lead by Conchero General Manuel Rodriguez. The name is in Nahuatl, the ancient language of the Mexica.

Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Paola Delfín. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Martha Cooper: Does the ceremony have a name? Can you say a few words about what kind of blessing it was or what message they were sending the artists?
Sigre Tompel: The Concheros hold the tradition of the old Mexican belief system. After being conquered by the Spanish, they decided to hold balance and harmony between the two belief symbols, so they started honoring Christian symbols, while honoring also Mexican symbols, usually in secret. Concheros need to be reconsidered as a Cultural Heritage of the World, they are not “syncretic” by ignorance, but to keep the sacred balance of cultural hybridization.

The Concheros were very happy because the artists expressed the metaphors of their dances into the murals, and because this represents a kind of Mexican renaissance that returns to an earlier time, reinterpreting the ancient classic pre-religious Mexican belief systems.

Paola Delfín. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Ryper . Goal. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Ryper . Goal. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Mantra. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Mantra. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Mantra. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Curiot. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Sänk. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Sänk. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Sänk. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Demencia. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Nosego. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Smithe. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

 

Pogo. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Aaron Glasson. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Jason Botkin. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Nueve Art Urbano Team)

Renata. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Sermob. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Juez. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Valiñas. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Atole Parra . Solé. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Graffiti Wall. Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Water is One/Mextonia Part 2. Querétaro, Mexico. March-April 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)


Artists participating include:

Aaron Glasson (New Zealand)
Curiot Tlapazotl (Mexico)
Dementia (Mexico)
Goal (Mexico)
Jason Botkin (Canada)
Mantra (France)
Nosego (United States)
Paola Delfín (Mexico)
Pogo (Mexico)
Renata (Mexico)
Ryper (Mexico)
Sermob (Mexico)
Smithe (Mexico)
Sänk (Estonia)


For more information on Mextonia please visit Mextonia.com

For more information on PangeaSeed please visit PangeaSeed Foundation

Read this article in Spanish / Leer este articulo in Espanol aqui:

TRANS-GRAFFITI Y EL FESTIVAL TRANSNACIONAL “MEXTONIA

Publicado el 26 de Mayo, 2018

México y Estonia; una pareja improbable. Pero a veces el amor es así. En una época en la que la ortodoxia global es autocomplaciente y obviamente no satisface las necesidades de las personas, quizás no sorprenda que sean los híbridos únicos de fortalezas compartidas los que pueden liderar en el mundo.

Consideremos “Mextonia”.

El retoño que combina las tradiciones… MAS


Our sincere thanks to Martha Cooper for her leadership on this effort as well as her talents documenting the action.

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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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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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Catching Up With Hong Kong – HK Walls 2017, Dispatch 1

Catching Up With Hong Kong – HK Walls 2017, Dispatch 1

This week BSA and Urban Nation (UN) are in Hong Kong for the 4th edition of HKWalls to capture a very international and local mix of artists in this East/West nexus; a world-class city for art and culture, English and Cantonese, hi-tech and traditional methods – all during the enormous Art Basel week. We’ll bring you the new walls, some previous pieces, some graffiti, stickers, and a whole lot of color from this fast moving and dynamic city on the Pearl River Delta of East Asia.


A day after heaving rains delayed the first couple of walls and a projection mapping show on  Sunday, a few walls are getting started, like the sprawling text of Amuse and Merlot, a vertically soaring robot of certain pedigree by Pixel Pancho and the trio called Anyway deconstructing a car on a roll-down gate that covers the mechanic shop.

Unidentified Artist. Hong Kong – March 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As the artists arrive into HKWalls headquarters in the base of the Ovolo Southside hotel in the Wong Chuk Hang neighborhood, we decide to head up north to the more congested and commercial center of Kowloon to say hello to Pixel and Dr. Fjordor as they start to sketch out the new figure of their wall way up above the traffic on a cherry picker.

Pixel radios to a young guy who is about 22 years old in English his next directions for where he would like to move the the basket they are riding in next. The helper then translates into Chinese the directions – move to the left and a few meters upward – to a grey haired gentlemen manning the mechanical controls that are mounted to the back of the crane on the street. We ask the walkie-talkie guy to tell Pancho we say “hello” and he turns in his bucket to wave down 10 stories below.

Peeta. HK Walls. Hong Kong – March 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We hop back on the super modern and smooth MTR system train to the Sham Shui Po neighborhood and wander through the markets and alleys and congested commercial streets to see the vendors selling fabrics, zippers, buttons, leather goods… and small groups of guys playing poker on card tables.

We also find a huge 3-D text piece by Italian Street Artist Peeta that wraps around corner of the second story façade that may remind you of a department store at a mall. Eventually we found more free-form one-color characters in some thin alleyways and a very talk Okuda multi-colored geometric patterned fox mural sandwiched between residential high-rises with freshly washed clothing and bed linens hanging outside apartment windows.

Paola Delfin. HK Walls. Hong Kong – March 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Riding the high-tech train back to Wong Chuk Hang at rush hour and crammed closely with people who are poking and swiping at their phones playing games or texting friends, you could watch world news on the screen just above your head as you ride. The images and headlines are featuring news about FBI Director Comey talking about an investigation into Russian interference in the US elections – and an image of Donald Trump inveighing at a rally microphone with a few guys wearing red “Make America Great Again” caps smiling behind him.

It strikes you that a fourteen hour flight to literally the other side of the world has just collapsed into one second. It’s true that people around the world watch these political developments and make judgements – which is why someone tells an American at a party at the end of the night that just hearing his US accent makes the guy think he must be a racist. Real talk, bro.

Shida. HK Walls. Hong Kong – March 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Okuda. Detail. HK Walls. Hong Kong – March 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Okuda. HK Walls. Hong Kong – March 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

GR1. HK Walls. Hong Kong – March 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Zids. HK Walls. Hong Kong – March 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Phron & Sars = Seduce. HK Walls. Hong Kong – March 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Suiko. HK Walls. Hong Kong – March 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)


HKWalls and Hong Kong stories come to you courtesy BSA in Partnership with Urban Nation (UN)

#urbannationberlin #allnationsunderoneroof #unblog @urbannationberlin @bkstreetart

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BSA Images Of The Week: 03.19.17

BSA Images Of The Week: 03.19.17

BSA-Images-Week-Jan2015

Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring: Baron Von Fancy, City Kitty, Claudio Dre, Consumer Art, Ethan Armen, Humenbote, Jerk Face, Mr. Sis, Pantonio, Paola Delfin, Paris Sketch Culture, Peter Tunney, Sac Six, Thomas Allen, Tictail, and Zor.

Top image: Jerk Face (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Baron Von Fancy (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Phone booth ad take over by an identified artist. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Tictail…speaking of female resistance… (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Consumer Art borrows from Banksy and quotes the current occupant in the Oval Office. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Paola Delfin. Detail. Barcelona. (photo © Lluis Olive Bulbena)

Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A clever paste-up collab between Ethan Armen and Thomas Allen with the humenbote logo (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Claudio Dre. Detail. Barcelona. (photo © Luis Olive Bulbena)

Peter Tunney (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

Paris Sketch Culture (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Zor (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Pantonio. Detail. Barcelona (photo © Lluis Olive Bulbena)

City Kitty takes the children for a ride on the Kittymobile…(photo © Jaime Rojo)

Love this tag…who is the writer? (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mr. Sis. Detail. Barcelona (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Sac Six (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Untitled. Jerry and his birds. Manhattan, NYC. March 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

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Two Miami Schools Enveloped in Murals : The RAW Project in Wynwood

Two Miami Schools Enveloped in Murals : The RAW Project in Wynwood

Reimagining Art in Wynwood: The RAW Project.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) received $148 million in 2016. The war budget, also called the “Defense Budget”, was approved for $582 billion for this year.

For comparison’s sake, that means the “Defense Budget” is 3,900 times the size of the NEA.

Paola Delfin at work on her mural at The Eneida M. Hartner elementary school. Wynwood, Miami. 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Arts and artists get very little or no financial or institutional support from the federal, state, or local government in the United States, which is always a shock for Europeans to learn – and many won’t believe it when you tell them. This website, for example, receives no funding or grants from any organization despite publishing daily for almost nine years, and it has remained non-commercial during that entire time.

Paola Delfin with some fans. Eneida M. Hartner elementary school. Wynwood, Miami. 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

It may be getting even worse for the arts in the US now that the new Trump administration in Washington is proposing cutting all funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. Arts and music programs in many American schools have already been eliminated slowly but surely over the last 40 years since the beginning of trickle-down economics in the 1980s.

That is why it is rather astounding that two of Miami’s Wynwood schools, Eneida M. Hartner elementary school and Jose De Diego middle school, are completely covered in murals.

Mr. June. Eneida M. Hartner elementary school. Wynwood, Miami. 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The Raw Project in Wynwood, Miami is the initiative of Robert De Los Rios, who partnered with private contributors, did fundraising, and asked a coalition of artists to paint the walls of the schools for the kids.

 

Part of its success of course is due to the status of the Wynwood neighborhood as a magnet for graffiti and Street Artists over the last decade or so. Already coming to Wynwood for Art Basel or to partake in a related art event, these artists have given of themselves and their talents to create a completely unique and dynamic environment for students to learn and grow up around.

Zed1. Eneida M. Hartner elementary school. Wynwood, Miami. 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We captured a number of these walls during successive visits over the last few years and share them with BSA readers today.

Please consider donating to the school organization to continue this program and to refresh or replace murals as they age. http://www.projectwynwood.com/raw/

Martin Whatson. Eneida M. Hartner elementary school. Wynwood, Miami. 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Martin Whatson. Eneida M. Hartner elementary school. Wynwood, Miami. 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Shepard Fairey. Eneida M. Hartner elementary school. Wynwood, Miami. 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

2501. Eneida M. Hartner elementary school. Wynwood, Miami. 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

INO at work on his mural at The Eneida M. Hartner elementary school. Wynwood, Miami. 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

INO. Eneida M. Hartner elementary school. Wynwood, Miami. 2016 (photo © INO)

Kevin Ludo at work on his mural at The Eneida M. Hartner elementary school. Wynwood, Miami. 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Kevin Ludo. Eneida M. Hartner elementary school. Wynwood, Miami. 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Louis Masai at work on his mural at The Eneida M. Hartner elementary school. Wynwood, Miami. 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Louis Masai at work on his mural at The Eneida M. Hartner elementary school. Wynwood, Miami. 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Louis Masai. The Eneida M. Hartner elementary school. Wynwood, Miami. 2016 (photo © Emil Walker)

Dan Witz. Eneida M. Hartner elementary school. Wynwood, Miami. 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Pip Squeak. Eneida M. Hartner elementary school. Wynwood, Miami. 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Axel Rod. Jose De Diego middle school. Wynwood, Miami. 2014 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Bik Ismo. Jose De Diego middle school. Wynwood, Miami. 2014 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Findac. Jose De Diego middle school. Wynwood, Miami. 2014 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face on the left with Pixel Pancho on the right. Jose De Diego middle school. Wynwood, Miami. 2014 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

MTO. Jose De Diego middle school. Wynwood, Miami. 2014 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Paola Delfin. Jose De Diego middle school. Wynwood, Miami. 2014 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Spencer Keeton Cunnigham. Jose De Diego middle school. Wynwood, Miami. 2014 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Word To Mother. Jose De Diego middle school. Wynwood, Miami. 2014 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Pastel. Jose De Diego middle school. Wynwood, Miami. 2014 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Jose Mertz . Lister. Jose De Diego middle school. Wynwood, Miami. 2014 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Looks like the kids at the Jose De Diego middle school are being inspired by the art of Ben Eine. Wynwood, Miami. 2014 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Martin Whatson. Jose De Diego middle school. Wynwood, Miami. 2014 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Txemy. Jose De Diego middle school. Wynwood, Miami. 2014 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

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San Salvador, Street Artists, Food Insecurity and “Conect-Arte”

San Salvador, Street Artists, Food Insecurity and “Conect-Arte”

Six street artists took their social engagement a step further in El Salvador last month and taught youth some serious skillz from the street.

Coming from Brazil, Australia, Ecuador, Mexico, New York, and New Jersey, this international crew took the time to share and teach about painting, art, and how community can be built. The program Conect-Arte is a newly launched initiative by the United Nations World Food Programme, which as the name suggests, also is in the city to address a more core need to battle food insecurity. With Conect-Arte the goal is to also meet youth in some communities and help with positive role models an options with an eye on transforming lives through developing art and related creative skills that can provide income and channel energy in ways productive to community.

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Vexta. Process shot. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Jamie Toll)

Together the artists worked on projects with 45 teens and younger kids over the course of the a week-long workshop in San Salvador, teaching street art techniques like stencil, lettering, mural painting, sculpture, even hot air balloon making. The goals are huge, like reducing violence, food insecurity, increasing access to economic opportunity. The tools here are art, the creative spirit, and strengthening relationships.

We bring you some images of the works that were made by the visiting artists and some of their observations and experiences during the Conect-Arte program.

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Vexta. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Yvette Vexta)

For her large mural project, Street Artist Vexta referenced the national bird, the Talapo, but creating two together in “Todos Estamos Conectados”. She says it is a reflection mural of this now endangered species at the entrance of a nascent community center called Teatro Camara Roque Dalton. During her installation she worked with three students and they experimented with abstract painting techniques, washes, spray paint, stencils and colour theory.

Brooklyn Street Art: How can a project like this help people feel connected to their city and their neighbors?
Vexta: This is a great question. In San Salvador there are very physical divisions that are highly visible – tall concrete fences topped with razor wire and the favela type neighborhoods which are often gang controlled territories. So people are really disconnected.

Conect-Arte enabled two groups of young people to come together from two distinct neighborhood areas – The Historic Centre and San Jacinto. The young people in the workshops got to connect with other young people that they wouldn’t have met otherwise, new friends were made and skills shared. This was super beautiful to see.

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Vexta.Workshop. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Yvette Vexta)

Its really hard for young people in San Salvador who live in poorer neighborhoods to move about the city. The threat of gang and police violence is very real. My group in particular made plans to stay in touch, to make more art together and start break-dancing together.

Whilst I was painting at Roque Dalton I had quite a few local people come to thank me for creating something beautiful in their neighborhood, and especially within the historic centre which is an area that is quite neglected, rundown and old. I think art in the streets can provide people with something they can feel proud of, a focal point or new memory site that is not an advertisement billboard or an architectural symbol – which is how we usually navigate modern cities.

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Vexta.Workshop. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Yvette Vexta)

This time they can say “I live near the twin birds that were painted for me” instead of “I live by the Mister Donut.” I hope my piece can bring a sense of the joy for life in a place struggling to remember what the value of life is. To me when you are seeing people approach the building to spend time taking photos of themselves and their friends and family, actively engaging with the art, is proof of a very real connection occurring between people and their city.

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Vexta.Workshop. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Yvette Vexta)

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Vexta. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Yvette Vexta)

LNY (Lunar New Year) says that he and students created a work based upon a poem by Javier Zamora entitled “Instrucciones Para Mi Entierro” (Instructions For My Funeral)

Brooklyn Street Art: Is it difficult to try to represent poetry visually?
LNY: It could be difficult yes but to me it became a matter of reacting to the poetry as opposed to try to represent it literally – which is the same way that I approach making context-sensitive art or murals. The poem was a starting point for our conversation and it helped inspire ideas, images, a mood and an internal narrative for the mural. We reacted to the poem the way dancing is a reaction to music, but we were not bound by a literal representation of the poem.

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LNY. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Yvette Vexta)

Brooklyn Street Art: An average person can encounter a mural or a poem and, without context, have an interpretation that is very different from what the author intended. Do you ever feel like you want to leave an explanation near your artwork so a passerby can understand it better?
LNY: Art has the power and range of a self contained language, one that works just like a written one but benefits from not being attached to a particular official language, nation or culture. See, I find myself traveling to lands where I do not speak the local language, be it literally or the proper vernacular, but by making art I get to bridge that gap and communicate regardless – the universal language of art allows me to communicate beyond English or Spanish or what have you.

So that’s one thing, art can fully explain itself as a visual language. Then you have the problem of interpretation which I, as an artist, will never fully control so let’s not go there. Lastly, and what I think becomes really interesting, is the idea of audience as far as an explanation would go.

My answer was to somehow take an interpretation of a poem and turn it into something new and visual that you can now read as a mural, as its own thing, as an experience with its own language – as a new and self contained visual poem.

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LNY. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Yvette Vexta)

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LNY. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Yvette Vexta)

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LNY. Detail. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Yvette Vexta)

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LNY. Workshop. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Lenny Correa)

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LNY. Workshop. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Lenny Correa)

In descriptions of the project the subject of safety in San Salvador comes up frequently, with stories of youth and families restricted to safe zones behind walls, fences, barbed wire for fear of violence from gangs and heavy handed authorities. Mexican Street Artist Paola Delfin created her piece entitled Tu eres yo¨/ ¨You are me” in one of these protected neighborhoods.

She says in the group’s press release ” This wall is inspired by many factors, after finding out a bit about the area where the wall is situated – A neighborhood consider safe in San Salvador. El Salvador is a country that a lot of people think of as a really wild place, but you can also find so many pretty things and beautiful people, this wall for example is the facade of ¨La Casa Tomada¨ a really inspiring place where many young people get together to create and learn from each other about art, music, media and many things.”

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Paola Delfin. Process shot. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Yvette Vexta)

Brooklyn Street Art: Does San Salvador have a particular personality on the street? How does an artist effectively speak to that audience on the street with their work?
Paola Delfin: Unfortunately I didn’t have much time to check out a lot of places around San Salvador, but I felt really related to it. I felt it looks pretty similar to Mexico, and I think the contrasts you can find there are pretty similar as well.

I think not only the Salvadorian audience but a lot of people from nearby countries (even my own) expect to communicate their thoughts and concerns about a lot of situations that are happening. I guess that we as artists have to find the way to share their thoughts and try to focus on the impact that our own thoughts could have on the people who see our work.

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Paola Delfin. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Yvette Vexta)

Street Artist Mr Toll created a number food related sculptural pieces in reference to the food scarcity issue in his work with the youth. Twisting the name of his project, he literally was making “Street Food” (Comida Callejera). He is quoted in the group’s press release saying,

“One of the major concerns in San Salvador is Food Security. This inspired my workshop and subsequent Street Sculpture collaborations with the students. During the workshops we focused on the healthy everyday foods the youth come in contact with, we discussed different issues while preparing the sculptures and then brought them together on the street as food face collages,” obviously injecting a brand of comedy that the kids could appreciate.

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Mr. Toll. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Jamie Toll)

“The opportunity of working directly on the street as a group gave the youth the freedom to play, experiment and feel safe in a public domain which generally they don’t have access too,” he says. “They face many restrictions due to gang activity and a heavy handed police presence in San Salvador. It was important for me to help to bring a little fun and humor in a creative way to their lives in a city faced with many difficulties.”

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Mr. Toll. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Jamie Toll)

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Mr. Toll. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Jamie Toll)

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Mr. Toll. Workshop. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Jamie Toll)

Adapted from the original Chinese hot air balloons, artesian balloons have had many cultures artistic influences in the last century. Brazilian Street Artist Claudio Ethos and members of the Sao Paulo based graffiti crew called 14 B.I.S crew (Sao Paulo) had a workshop  promoting the art form by teaching how to make them. Called locally by the name of Globos, the project involved elements of mathematics, physics and geometry as well as a very necessary requirement of collaboration.

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ETHOS. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Yvette Vexta)

Globo Lokos was the project name and working together with the youth was especially rewarding because of the airborne result of their collaborative efforts. “The focus,” says Ethos, “was start to finish object making, where the young people had the opportunity to show their city, where they live, that they can make art and be artists. We helped the youth to make the balloons drawn with art to send their prays and wishes to the sky, Then they launched their works of art into the sky, which is a very powerful action,” according to the press release.

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ETHOS. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Yvette Vexta)

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ETHOS. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Yvette Vexta)

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ETHOS. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © WFP USA Charles Fromm)

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ETHOS. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © WFP USA Charles Fromm)

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Group shot at Casa Tomada. Conect-Arte. San Salvador. April 2016. (photo © Jamie Toll)

 

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This article is also published on The Huffington Post

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Chihuahua, a Mexican Desert City with a Few “Street Art” Blooms

Chihuahua, a Mexican Desert City with a Few “Street Art” Blooms

“Chihuahua is like one big ranch,” says a local reporter who guides you around this desert city known for beef, cheese, sotol, cowboy boots… and a growing middle class – thanks to the hundred plus multinational maquiladoras operating here with a focus on aerospace, medical equipment, and automobile manufacturing.

The “ranch” metaphor is meant to be welcoming, but it also lets you know that this city of nearly a million can still feel like a small town. This is the capital of Mexico’s largest state, which goes by the same name. And yes, the diminutive and scrappy dog originated here – as did Pancho Villa, and you can visit his homestead if you like.

It’s not the typical city where you might expect to find Street Art, yet only a few blocks from the government palace downtown that holds two stories of wall paintings by Mexican muralist Aarón Piña Mora, you will find new paintings in the dusty side streets that indicate a more international flavor is present.

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Paola Delfin. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Largely conservative by most accounts, Chihuahua city in the twenty-teens has been sampling the flavors of the burgeoning global Street Art scene thanks two locally organized arts festivals; Ruta in 2013 and Centrópolis in 2014, and to the stylistic adventuring of local artists on other walls outside these approved ones.

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Paola Delfin. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Local custom has been to dismiss those un-permissioned painters as cholos, a disparaging term referring to a criminal element. Today its not as simple to disparage this rising tide of painters in the streets when cities across Europe and the US are actually seeking out and inviting Street Artists and muralists to come and revitalize a neighborhood or draw youth into a city center.

“Street Art has traditionally been seen as a form of vandalism but thanks to the festivals that include visual artists as the special guest it is slowly changing the way people see graffiti and street art,” explains Ivonne Dalila Miramontes, a curator and photographer who studied in the Arts Faculty of the Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua, and who currently teaches visual arts to high school students.

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Paola Delfin. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“It’s a subtle distinction but it’s a big deal, because now the new murals have a meaning and people don’t see art in the streets anymore strictly as vandalism and it has been a great opportunity for local artist to express themselves and be recognized as artists.”

You’ll see tagging on abandoned walls in some neighborhoods, and there is a range of old-school graffiti styles represented along with political ads for candidates and commercial ads for muffler repair shops on the low flung long walls that run alongside some carreteras in Chihuahua.

You’ll also see uncommissioned paintings that are figurative, or minimally abstract, or have a more trained illustrators eye here and there. Suddenly it looks like there is a small mushrooming of art on the streets. Is it a movement, a sign of a future renaissance of arts and culture, as we have seen in many international cities, or is it a chance outcropping that will be stomped out or left to die in the sun?

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Adán Estrada AKA El Disko. Chihuahua, Mexico. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“It is really great to be able to do my work in different cities,” says Paola Delfin, one of the new breed of Mexican Street Artists who has travelled to festivals internationally at the invitation of organizers in Miami, Puerto Rico, Brazil, even Berlin.

“I like to observe the impact that this work has on the people and on the environment in each of them. Coming from Mexico City where art, specifically muralism, has an important history, it’s always interesting and inspiring to work in new places. Some cities like Berlin also have a huge background of art, muralism or street art, so people are more accustomed to this work.”

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HidroC. Chihuahua, Mexico. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Delfin’s own female-centric paintings here were completed during the Centrópolis festival – one with undulating wavelike hair that envelops the monochromatic figure on a partially decayed wall. The other painting uses a more realist technique she is experimenting with; levitating above the street perhaps to recall the magic realism famous in Latin literature by writers like the celebrated Colombian Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who wrote many of his greatest works while living in Mexico City for decades.

“’Susana’, the levitating modern girl, is a based on a girl I met during the festival,” Delfin says, “She was helping all the artists there and she helped me a lot – and I like to paint people who had some impact in my life somehow, and I asked here if I could use her as a model.”

Serene and still, the artist says the figure is meant to allude to a dangerous trade that has claimed many young women closer to the border four hours north of here.“I painted ‘Susana’ sleeping. She is waiting to wake up and find some peace surrounding her. For me she represents the young women up there.” Of course some of the works touch on societal themes, and others can have political undertones.

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CRON. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For Bebo, a Mexican artist who has created many of his trademark foxes as stencils and abtract linear forms on walls throughout cities south and north of the border, his work is allegorical – although most passersby won’t necessarily know how strong his intent is. “I use mostly foxes on my work. I think foxes’ faces show how diverse they are physically as specimens but I also like their character – playful and mythical at the same time. ”

“My work can’t ignore this absurd political reality we are in. It feels like the whole of Mexico is a battle ground,” he says as he talks about the five paintings he did in Chihuahua city in 2014. “My work can’t reflect this reality but instead wants to change it. It is a small step to do something. My approach is entirely metaphysical. To fight against the ignorance I use my imagination. To fight against terror I use hope. I like to offer a different path.”

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Eldeini. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

His path to Chihuahua was lead by Felix Lugo, a local artist and independent curator who organized the Street Artists with the Centrópolis festival, which included three days music stages, theatre, traditional cultural events, and according to organizers, close to 100,000 people. Although not all of that foot traffic was here to see the murals, he thinks that a painting is often better than a blank wall.

“I paint to open a dialogue on the streets,” says Bebo, “It is like a window to establish change in a specific city and at the same time to connect people with each other.”

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Ovrlnds and DISKO. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For now, we offer you these images of a few remaining pieces and some brand new ones that were discovered around the city, as well as an abandoned spot north of the metropolis where you’ll find more typical graffiti artists trying their hand at the spray can.

Who knows if this warm and dry city can support the new generation of creative voices that are now being called on in many cities globally to create excitement and engage art fans, but we did see a few cafes and even a gallery or two where this art has been springing up.

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Ovrlnds and Disko. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“I do see a future for a large Street Art/mural festival,” says Miramontes, who notes that local artists were energized by the attention that the plastic arts were receiving.

“It made me feel that art is being taken seriously in my city. Also the murals are the only things that still remain after all the festivals, and when I pass by any of the artworks I remember being around while the artists were working and seeing friends, families and people in general having fun enjoying this form of art. We just need more people interested and involved in this environment so we can achieve success by bringing this kind of art to the community.”

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Mil Amores. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Mil Amores. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Jelly Fish. Detail. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Jelly Fish. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Mil Amores. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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CAM. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Mil Amores. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Mil Amores. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Chihuahua, Mexico. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Clasicco. Chihuahua, Mexico. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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BEBO. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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BEBO. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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BEBO. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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BEBO. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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BEBO. Detail. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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BEBO. Chihuahua, Mexico. Centropolis Art Festival 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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BEBO. Santa Isabel. Chihuahua, Mexico. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Artist Unknown. Santa Isabel. Chihuahua, Mexico. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Artist Unknown. Santa Isabel. Chihuahua, Mexico. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Artist Unknown. Santa Isabel. Chihuahua, Mexico. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Mil Amores. Santa Isabel. Chihuahua, Mexico. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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This article is also published on The Huffington Post.

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This article is also published on El Huffington Post.

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Community Murals and the Violent History of Comuna 13 in Medellin

Community Murals and the Violent History of Comuna 13 in Medellin

Despite the rise of the so-called Street Art scene of the last couple of decades, the more familiar form of this kind of expression for most people is the community mural. This outward expression of a neighborhood or cities aspirations and history can have an important impact on the residents, fostering a sense of shared culture and values and, in the case of memorial walls, grief. This winter author, street art fan, and occasional BSA contributor Yoav Litvin travelled to Medellin, Colombia, where he toured a neighborhood traumatized by crime and saw how murals by local artists and government-sponsored paint can affect every day life in a community.
 
by Yoav Litvin

San Javier, aka “Comuna 13”, is considered the most dangerous, crime-ridden district in Medellín, the second largest city in Colombia. It has been plagued by violence at the hands of drug cartels, local gangs, guerillas and paramilitary groups all of whom seek control of its strategic location as a crossroads of illegal goods coming into and out of Medellín, and thus Colombia as a whole. In 2010, the neighborhood saw 162 murders for every 100,000 people, an astonishing 10 percent of all homicides in the city.

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Comuna 13. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

Traveling through Medellín, I was intrigued to hear from a local art lover of a street art and graffiti project at Comuna 13 aimed at bringing art, education and peace to this embattled community. Using art as an instrument for the promotion of peace has a bloody history in Comuna 13, where 10 hip-hop artists were murdered as they tried to endorse an end to violence.

Determined to see the project for myself, I sought a local guide who would agree to take me there. I was surprised to discover that there was a company that organizes tours of Comuna 13 and the next morning at 10 a.m. I met Juan Manuel, a friendly local resident who is bilingual and co-founder of “Discover Medellín”.

For a couple of hours we walked together through the streets of Comuna 13, taking in all the beautiful art that is part of the “Medellín is painted for life” project. Throughout the tour the very knowledgeable Juan educated me on the local government’s efforts to revitalize the community at San Javier, including the installation of an escalator system aimed at helping residents get to and from work, free house paint for residents in a variety of colors and investment in the construction of nearby libraries that would cater to the communities largely younger population, steering them away from crime. According to Juan, these investments have led to a dramatic reduction in violence and a transformation of Comuna 13.

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Chota. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

I had the opportunity to ask Juan Manuel about these changes at Comuna 13 with a focus on the role of street art:

YL: What is the role of art in Comuna 13?
JM: Art serves multiple purposes. It allows local artists to share their passion for art with the local community. It’s a positive influence for younger troubled kids who have limited opportunities in Colombia. Many are discriminated against solely because of the notorious barrio they live in. The public art also serves as a historical record with many of the murals documenting Medellín’s violent past. Recently, several home-owners along the tour have approached me with an invitation to paint a mural on their walls to help improve the reputation of their community.

YL: How has the government promoted the art and artists in Medellín?
JM: The local government has been actively involved in the recruitment of artists to paint murals in Comuna 13 as well as various other locations across the city. The legal walls have been a big hit with local artists who are eager to create and share their passion with the rest of the city. The local government continues to actively search for new areas throughout the city for displaying public art. In addition, the local government has sponsored artists by providing them with the monetary funds to complete various projects throughout the city.

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Artist Unknon. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

YL: Do you believe the art has a positive role in affecting crime levels in Medellín? How?
JM: Yes. Walking tours like this would not be possible without the drastic changes in the community.  A few years ago, violence was a daily occurrence in the community. But after the local government invested millions of dollars in paint for local residents and allowed local artists to paint murals throughout Comuna 13, safety in the area has greatly improved. These acts have given many long-term residents faith in local politicians who risked political backlash. Locals now see more and more interest in their community from the government, businesses, residents from other parts of Medellín and a few foreigners like you who are eager to explore the transformation of Comuna 13.

YL: What are your plans for the future?
JM: Together with my partner Arthur, we are currently in the process of securing funding for an art project in Comuna 13. The goal is to invite artists from around the world to paint inspirational art projects aimed at promoting the community.

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Paola Delfin. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

After our tour I returned to my hostel and told my hostess of my experience. She was horrified to learn that I visited Comuna 13 and told me that the only reason I was left unharmed was because I had the obvious look of a foreigner: “Me and my friends never go there. If you look local or Latino in general, you are stopped, questioned, or worse… They are always suspicious of young men who may be from a rival gang.” she said.

Most of the street art and graffiti in Comuna 13 was made by kids or young people that received graffiti classes in Casa Kolacho or Casa Morada, by social entities which work with young people in some parts of this big infamously violent community.

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Senor OK . Grena Cru. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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REK. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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Bomba . Kone. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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El Pole. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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DEXS. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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Javid Jah. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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Kone . AXND. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

 

Our thanks to Yoav for his contribution and for sharing his trip and observations with BSA readers.

 

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