This week, Global Navigators took to the streets on a tour of Barcelona's arte callejero, or street art. Taking inspiration from graffiti giants like New York, Philadelphia, and Paris, artists in Barcelona began adorning the walls with their creations in the 1970s. Our guide took us through the winding streets of El Raval, known as the museo al aire libre ("outdoor museum") of the city, thanks to its colorful murals and art installations that cover the walls and punctuate street corners.
We started outside the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, where we saw a 30 meter long recreation of a mural by Keith Haring, a famous artist and social activist from Pennsylvania who used his art to raise awareness about those living with HIV/AIDS. From there, we continued through El Raval, visiting murals on storefronts and mixed media pieces made of spray painted wood, cans, and other materials. We saw works of social commentary and colorful portraits, and were watched by a mask in the form of Batman as we crossed the street. At every turn we were met by the messages and musings of the artists who have come and gone down these streets for decades.
We ended our walking tour at Plaza de las Tres Chemineas, a post-industrial square where artists can reserve wall space and create masterpieces without fear of multas (fines). There we met local legend Konair, an artist known for his signature helado (ice cream) that can be spotted in his works around the city. First, we learned a little about proper spraypaint form from artist Pres Fusion. Soon thereafter, pastel clouds started swirling as each participant made their own mark on the walls of this landmark in Barcelona's urban culture. Some designed hearts, flowers, and even aliens, while others simply doodled or added their names to the mix.
As we stood back and admired our work, Konair reminded us to enjoy it while we can--due to the ephemeral nature of the plaza, any one mural could be gone tomorrow, or as soon as the next inspired artist reserves the free space. Not unlike our time here in Barcelona, it won't last forever--hay que vivir el momento.