17 April 2013

It's the law.

© Brandon Queen, 2013
Santurce, Santurce es ley. This street-art festival took place in what is certainly San Juan's hippest neighbourhood (an area complete with cafe book-signings and (a) chic Indian restaurant(s)): Santurce. The area has been getting a lot of press for its extremely high concentration of artists, designers, and general manifestations of the hipster ideal. At any rate, it is the perfect location for a street-art festival that brings together musicians, artists, museums, and galleries to both showcase and revitalize this particular barrio.

I have to admit that I was too busy with textual analyses and the finer points of Spanish syntactic conventions to make it out - obscene, I know, but  the work is still up and there is always next year. However, I can say that street-art is a particular gem among the city's artistic offerings. The work seen on walls in this city is the most vibrant I've seen yet (even compared to New York, Montreal, or Los Angeles!); it is of a quality and, above all, ubiquity that so far I haven't noted anywhere else I've lived. Even before the festival (and continuing now) there are new murals going up all over the place, in every neighbourhood. There is enough very good work to merit a blog - or even a fancy Taschen/Phaidon publication - all its own. There also appears to be a consensus among Sanjuaneros that this is a vital part of the city's civic life, much to the benefit of the seeing public.

It would be remiss not to mention that at least one writer took issue with how this event, in its fourth edition, took form this year. Apparently that old trope of a disadvantaged neighbourhood at the mercy of a hipster invasion is rearing its head, as outlined in this article from El Post Antillano. Essentially, the writer says the artists (an admittedly well-off bunch) just kind of went in, cans ablaze, and did not really involve the area's residents, who are primarily immigrants and not financially privileged. A valid complaint, if it is actually true.

Whatever the case, I think this festival is a good reason in and of itself for anyone to visit Puerto Rico - the work is that good! Before long this is going to get the kind of attention that drives up the cost of real estate and hotel rates, so book your tickets in advance.

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