Valpo Street Art
My travel buddy and I headed to Chile in November, and were initially on our own for a few days. I’d long-since known that Valparaiso was a great place to see street art. Lots of cities have vibrant street art communities, but this one: Wow!
Valparaiso is built on 42 hills (and they are steep)! We wandered the communities on the Alegre, Concepcion and Miraflores hillsides on our own, stumbling across dozens of examples of this beautiful artform.
Then we had an excellent four hour walking tour with Camilo Ortega from Ecomapu Travel. Camilo explained to us, in excellent English, the “inside scoop” of the street art (along with the city’s interesting history). He took us places we’d have had difficulty accessing, or knowing about. (See ecomapu.com – or their steady 5-star reviews on Trip Advisor, including mine).
He also provided a broader sense for where we were. As with any city, there are “sketchy” neighborhoods, but when street artists take notice, their art consistently helps transform and clean things up; the resulting amplified local pride of place yields an area that is measurably safer. Prettier, too! He even took us to his own open-air community gathering place and garden, complete (of course) with street art.
Street artistry isn’t what Americans think of as graffiti. It’s much deeper than that. The wall murals are often immense, filling an entire building wall. Sometimes, stairways (which are everywhere) receive creative paint jobs. A favorite for us were the piano keyboard steps. Another stairway was almost camouflaged as it portrayed person flying a Chilean flag/kite.
Street art often conveys carefully wrought themes. One couple, Jekse & Cines, are famous for love themes bracketed by caricature sketches of themselves. Many have political or social themes, such as one heart-rending mural showing three indigenous women, one with sad eyes that stare straight down at passers-by. Another shows a complicated scene including the sometimes negative impact of tourism. Many have been altered to include an obvious opinion about a certain orange-headed American president.
One impressive element, though, was the range of topics, most beautifully and carefully rendered. A favorite for me was of a child hopefully holding a star aloft. Another, which we’d seen in a photo in a shop, came to us unexpectedly on a pink building during our walk home from our final dinner: a wonderful old woman musing and drumming her red-polished nails against the sidewalk.
If you use Instagram and would like to see more of Valparaiso’s street art, go to “valpostreetart” and enjoy!
Nota de Prensa: Kate Dernocoeur