In a city where graffiti is illegal, it is also an art form? Yeah, welcome to Chile.
Specifically, to Valparaiso, where the walls are covered with murals and gang tags. It is illegal to write on walls in the city, but if a building owner wants his wall decorated, up and coming artists vie for the exposure. Some are instantly recognizable for their signature art elements (hummingbirds, dolls, patchworks, etc.). Others are trying to break into the bohemian art scene that thrives here, so they offer to paint for the cost of materials.
Property owners want their walls done in order to avoid gang graffiti, because gangs respect the artists. So, get your walls colorful, before somebody else does. Here are some of the great pieces we saw today on our walking tour, guided by the lovely Ignatio (red striped shirt):
Graffiti is actually illegal in Chile, so the people who own buildings have to invite mural artists to paint on them. They do this to avoid gang graffiti like that shown in the signatures here. Those are “tags” or attacks. Gangs tend to respect the art installments, and building owners don’t want their place covered in stuff like that, so they let artist cover them instead. Up-and-coming muralists work for the price of their paint, until they get known in this Bohemian Paradise.
The last one isn’t graffiti only, but also the wooden horse in the yard where we ate pizzas our first night here. The graffiti artist who did this place also did the horse. Please note toilet in lower right of photo. I feel trendy. :] (For those who haven’t seen it, our bookstore has a toilet on the front lawn with flowers growing out of it.)