Saturday, May 18, 2013

It's a Dog Eat Car World - São Paulo

I grew up near New York City and during trips into the city on the train, we would see scrawling writing, ugly words on the sides of tenement buildings. I have been conditioned to think of graffiti as ugly and illegal.

Street art, the "hip" name for graffiti, is everywhere in São Paulo. And many times, it is beautifully rendered--sometimes political in nature, often striking. While it is technically illegal to spray paint buildings and walls, there are several places where it is encouraged and frankly, a huge improvement on the ugly grey concrete. The shot above would be "legal" graffiti as it was most likely commissioned by the owner of the building. In an effort to keep ugly graffiti from the walls of a local cemetery, the local government actually painted individual "canvases" and "gave" one to the well-known graffiti artists in the city. They self-police those walls--putting only beautiful paintings, cleaning up the unauthorized stuff.

I will definitely include other shots of street art in this blog. I am struck constantly by the colorful fun of it. I try to imagine what the artist is "saying." Like the dog eating the car above. Is this an owner who is tired of the line of the cars taking this street to avoid the main thoroughfare? My husband and I wound up on this street in the so-called Baixa Madalena (Vila Madalena is a chic neighborhood--this "lower" Madalena is hanging onto its skirts). This particular road seemed to be a cut-off to the traffic-filled main street.

Also, note the Caribbean restaurant next door. I would never have noticed it if I weren't snapping photos on the phone. Tiny, unknown--I wonder how it survives. And on the other side there are a couple of shops that are not yet open (commerce opens at 10 am--this was around 9:30). I love the small individual specialist shops here--while it takes longer to get all of your shopping done, there is nothing like the expertise you get from the owner of the shop.

This photo below is from the corner of the street next to my son's music class. Maybe they would like the kids to stop singing? ;)


  1. The MuBE had a great street art exhibition. Not sure if it is still going on, but worth the visit if it is!

    1. Thanks for letting me know...I'm going to check to see if it's still going!