Friday, February 3, 2017

Fleeting images

The bright, the beautiful, the colourful images that come and go are worthy of remembering.

I call this photo  - The Reading Room 
Over the years there have been several ‘authorized’ campaigns to paint murals on private and public buildings on Isla Mujeres. Many of those frescos have survived the salty humid weather, the over-painting of graffiti artists, or removal for new construction projects.  This week’s blog is a remembrance of some of the interesting ones that didn’t survive.

One of the malecon bollards when they were painted as flags
When we first arrived there was a collection of ocean-themed murals painted on the malécon, running along the eastern side of the island. There were turtles, and fish, and other ocean creatures. As those paintings peeled or faded, the next municipal administration repainted everything in a flag motif.  Flags from the countries of the visitors to Mexico. Canadian, American, many European countries, Israel, and all of the Latin American countries adorned the seawall bollards.

2012 Spear Art - La Perla Hotel
In February of 2012 a twenty-something Belgium backpacker, Corentin Binard known as Spear, decided to add his unique brand of graffiti to the island. Situated on the eastside of Isla the three-story tall La Perla Hotel was partially damaged during hurricane Gilberto, and finished off by hurricane Wilma in 2005.  It languished as a crash-pad for vagrants, an unsightly place littered with garbage and beer bottles.
More portraits by Spear Art
Arriving on Isla, Spear discovered the crumbling structure and decided he would leave his mark there.  For three wild days working in a frenzy of creativity he sprayed, splashed, dabbed, and painted. He crafted five large, animated portraits of friends on the south walls of the damaged hotel rooms, and two more the north end of the structure. About a month after his marathon of painting the damaged La Perla was knocked down and reduced to a pile of rubble. There are plans for a new hotel on the same location.

Inside roofless building 
Sometime in early 2014 an image appeared inside an abandoned, roofless building located at northern end of the seldom-used municipal airport, near the entrance for the malécon and the Aguakan pumping station. The image stares with a question in her eyes. Perhaps she is asking: why are you here inside this dank, derelict space? Still visible, the image is a faint ghost of the original.

2014 was on the wall at Gabriela Mistral Primary 
Then in the summer of 2014 a large group of artists arrived to embellish fourteen buildings in centro. Almost three years later the majority are still visible, a little paler, but attractive all the same. Two of the originals are gone. The long and colourful ocean creature that swam along the perimeter wall of the Gabriela Mistral Primary School in centro, was the victim of expansion.  The black and white whale-shark swimming with a woman on the Tourism office on Medina Avenue a victim of the hot afternoon sun and tropical storms. Flaking and faded, it was replaced this year with a conglomeration of brightly-coloured mythical figures.

One of our favourites - gone!
In early 2015 a collection of birds, iguanas, hermit crabs, whale sharks, turtles, fish, sharks, and jelly fish flowed along three sides of the retaining wall where the seniors play volleyball. During a tropical rain storm late in October of that year, the wall crumbled destroying the striking artwork. The replacement wall is a plain, vanilla-white structure. We miss the eye-catching images of our local wildlife.

Barbara Siebenlist painting - now at Villa la Bella

Another one of our favourite depictions of ocean-going creatures was painted by artist Barbara Siebenlist on a wooden fence at Antonio Fabre’s studio. Curtis and Ashley Blogin, the owners of the Villa la Bella Bed & Breakfast, fell in love with the artwork and quickly negotiated to purchase the piece for their lobby. Safely sheltered from the rain and sun, it’s a beautiful addition to a handsome facility.

Golf cart rental - mural on fencing
There are other images tucked away behind private walls, or inside hotel courtyards waiting to be discovered. Many businesses located in centro are starting to capitalize on the interest of visitors in the various murals, commissioning paintings for their lobbies, rooftops, fences and buildings. It's an interesting and profitable spin-off of outdoor art.

Now, if someone would start an island-wide mosaic project ….that would be cool, more permanent and just as colourful.

Hasta Luego

Lynda & Lawrie

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