12 Brillos, A la Pinta, Adrian, Avenida Departamental, BRP, Charquipunk, Coas, collective graffiti, Crazys Crew, Dasic, gigantescos murales, graffiti, Inti, Jamberta, Jen & Sandro, Olfer, Payo, Piguan, Roa, Saile, San Miguel, Santiago, Seta fuerte, Tamah, Thiago
I saved the last two days of my month in Chile this spring for revisiting some communities in Santiago where I had photographed street art during my earlier visits. One of them was San Miguel, where I had found several giant murals in 2011, painted on the ends of concrete houses along Avenue Departamental (see Museo a Cielo Abierto en San Miguel). These impressive works constituted an open air museum, which was initiated by the community itself and organized with the help of Centro Cultural Mixart to protect the concrete block houses against deterioration.
Originally the idea of Museo a Cielo Abierto San Miguel was developed around 10 giant murals. But as there was still funding left after their completion, as well as several empty walls – and even more street artists keen to paint on them for nothing – the number of murals started to grow rapidly. By the time of my first visit to San Miguel I found 19 wall-size murals there, 17 of them along the busy Departamental, two along Tristan Matta, which is a quiet parallel street inside the housing area. At the time of my second visit at the beginning of April this year, the number of the giant murals had risen to 40, and there were also several smaller works on Tristan Matta and Carlos Edwards streets, including painted kiosks.
I spent some sweaty hours in the heat of early Santiago afternoon photographing all the pieces that seemed new to me. The big works in the ends of houses had been fitted with transparent, informative nameplates, so I could read that there were a number of international crews behind the newer works, and that some of the crews were actually representatives of universities or other organizations.
Besides the increased number of murals I could notice some other changes in the neighborhood, especially near the murals. The streets and backyards were mostly tidy, their trees and plants had been looked after, the dustbins and benches in the little parks between the concrete block houses were in good condition, and there were also new or neat looking playground equipment and play stands for children. Clearly San Miguelians wanted to live up to the improved reputation of their home district by keeping it clean and attractive to outside visitors.
As you can seen from the gallery below, the styles of the murals range from symbolism to abstractionism, and, alongside the political and spiritual content, I could find allusions to environmental issues in many of them, such as appreciation and protection of nature, water, plants and animals.