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Murlalism and Street Art in the CDMX

The Lienzo CDMX cultural project was created to support local graffiti artists and to provide them with spaces for expression in Mexico City, most of which would be located on the walls of government office buildings. Lienzo, the spanish word for canvas, was coordinated by the CDMX Youth Institute (INJUVE) in collaboration with the “Juguete Antiguo” Museum (MUAJM) in the aim of presenting young urban artists with safe spaces where they could express their art and perfect their muralist techniques. The project encourages young artists to engage in the activation of public places while also promoting the use of less traditional forms of art.

Street art is a cultural manifestation that reflects a citizen’s active involvement in their urban environment. The concept of the open wall as a canvas makes it a medium by which a diversity of messages and voices can gain exposure to a larger public audience. It is important to incorporate this art form into the city’s cultural heritage in order to recognize the significance of such messages and the social opportunities they can foment.

Lienzo CDMX has been able to produce 72 different pieces of work by the sixth year of its administration. Each month one national artist will make an original intervention in the form of a mural. Thus far nine large murals have been painted through different locations in the city, including the pre-Columbian inspired mural titled “Quetzalcóatl dances with his sons to Mictlán”, painted in one of the flanks of the Joan of Arc building, where the Lab for the City resides. The first building with this kind of intervention was the headquarters of the Youth Institute (INJUVE). This mural was created by Fabio Martínez ‘Curiot’, an up-and-coming artist from Michoacan who had his own international exhibition in Los Angeles, California. Aside from public buildings, Lienzo CDMX has reached out to private sector real-estate owners to participate in the beautifying of Mexico City. The initiative has inspired other aspiring muralists and has improved both the culture and urban scenery of the city.

The All City Canvas (ACC) annual festival founded in 2012 promotes contemporary art, urban culture and design in a similar way to the Lienzo project. The festival is directly inspired by the country’s 20th century muralist movement. Mexico City was chosen as the festival site for its large variety of spaces as well as its extensive cultural offering, which gives it a reputation as one of the most important centers of cultural and artistic expression in Latin America. The ACC is organized by Victor Hugo Celaya, Gonzalo Álvarez and Roberto Shimizu, with the support of Arto, Mamutt and the Museo del Juguete Antiguo Mexicano. In addition to organizing artistic interventions on different walls throughout Mexico City, the ACC hosts a series of presentations given by the very muralists involved in these projects. This allows the general public to gain an understanding of the artists’ work and place it in the context of the city’s great tradition of muralism. Mexico City offers a great environment for a muralist festival as its architecture is replete with clean blank walls ripe for street art and its landmarks are adorned with the murals of the Plastic Integration movement.

The festival’s digital platform promotes contemporary forms of cultural expression in urban environments by artists in other parts of the globe. This international exhibition allows a worldwide community to share and access new and original content with a perspective on current affairs. The festival has since evolved to widen the international reach of its message and offer a strong, influential platform capable of nurturing the scene for the new generation of muralists.

Project name All City Canvas
Period 2012
Author Victor Hugo Celaya, Gonzalo Álvarez y Roberto Shimizu
Contributor Arto, Mamutt, MUJAM
Location Mexico City