Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
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Earth without Art is just “Eh” - Street Art of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Photographs and text by Viviane Moos

What is street art? Graffiti, vandalism or public art? There is as yet no simple definition.

Street art appears throughout the city of Puerto Vallarta demonstrating a wide variety of styles and themes. Some are commissioned pieces associated with community projects, some decorate the entrances of private businesses and homes commissioned or simply invited to use their blank canvases walls, while others appear suddenly on bare enclosures in public spaces such as parks, expressing social and political concerns or simply patterns and words. In most cases they beautify the city’s landscape.

PV, as the locals call it, has become one of the Best Vacation spots in Mexico.*

The artists are as varied as their work. Some actively promote their art via social media and communicate with the public, whereas others choose to remain anonymous only connecting with the public via their work.  Similarly, these astonishing pieces can be the work of one individual or a crew such as Street Blong who is responsible for many murals around the city.

Several of the works have themes that are considered traditionally “Mexican”, featuring Catrinas (a Mexican female skeleton), the famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and animals associated with the indigenous cultures of Mexico.  Meanwhile others depict modern, urban or cartoon images that would be at home in most cities in the world. Traditional, funky, whimsical, or socially conscious, Puerto Vallarta’s graffiti and murals can be called all of the above, revealing an artistic community as diverse as the work it produces.

Some works expressed social, political and historic images; General Pancho Villa and his horse Seven Leagues, a blossoming red tree, the orca killer-whale and save the reef messages, Mayan jaguars, animals and Gods, messages about life and money, spraying the Zika mosquito virus, political statements, giant, multiple-story fantasies and blazing colors and patterns.

I joined the Fat Bike Graffiti and Art Tour in Puerto Vallarta, taking photographs of my bike-mates as well as Carmen and Clarence Poon, the two charming and very responsible tour owners. On following days I went out on foot and found some powerful additional murals. I know there are many that I did not discover, but that leaves me material for a second essay – and because of the impermanence of these works of art, who knows what will be gone and what new masterpieces will have been born.

* Rated #7 best places to visit Mexico by U.S. New & World Report 2017

Earth Without Art is Just "EH" A real woman and a  real window and a painted tree 
General Pancho Villa and his horse Seven Leagues painted on the side of a house in Old Town. A plaque with the signatures of the artists who painted Pancho Villa and his horse  Bicycle tour participants taking a break Gangster graffiti Tag On a park wall the signature tag of artist Senor on his portrait of Michael Jackson? Carmen Poon taking a photo of bike tour participant Molly Bicyclists take a photography break Humming bird on a park wall Green-eyed Mayan goddess on a park wall Mysterious painted eyes stare out from a park mural. Graffiti quote that is part of a Gangster tag mural. All We need is Money. Park wall pug dog Park wall pug dog Carmen, owner of Puerto Vallarta Cycling, connecting  with a  painted pug dog's finger
Barbara, bicycle tour participant. A painted house on a park wall A giant three story high portrait of Frida Kahlo painted on a vacant residential building Participants and  owners of the Fat Bike Graffiti and Art Tour posing in front of a  three story high mural of Frida Kahlo. A three story high Frida Kahlo painted on a vacant residential building. Multi-story pointillism wall art depicting a Mexican girl Participants and the owners of Puerto Vallarta Cycling  in front of a work in progress mural Colorful, imaginatively rendered animals , tigers, bats, snakes and others painted on a four story residential building. The words What a Mess, or fuss, painted on a wall together with a character who looks like the devil. Wall painting depicting spraying a mosquito. Possibly a message about the Zika virus. A father and son resting on sofa surrounded by religious murals at a car-wash.
Classical stylized Mayan warriors decorate the  front of a private house. Flowers and a giraffe decorate the front of a private house. Some think it's the children's rooms? La CATRINA, symbol of The Day of the Dead on the wall of the  cemetery. La CATRINA, symbol of The Day of the Dead on the wall of the cemetery. Portrait of a woman,  CATRINA ? painted by Street Blong on the wall of the cemetery La CATRINA, symbol of The Day of the Dead on the wall of the town cemetery. La CATRINA, symbol of The Day of the Dead on the wall of the town cemetery. La CATRINA, symbol of The Day of the Dead on the wall of the town cemetery. A local woman passes an iguana Powerful image of a man wearing a leopard mask with tattoos of spider webs and the word Love on his arm Inspector Gadget, the American cartoon character is popular in Mexico Wakko Warner Cartoon cat character from the Animaniacs with a giant tag on the wall. Abstracts Abstracts Lion portraits along the main street of old town Cauce restaurant in Old Town features giant painted tomatoes on each side of the entrance door. A painted tree and grass but a real window A face wearing glasses decorates the shutters of an optical store in Old Town. Eve and the creation? for a commercial paint manufacturer Prisa, whose slogan is Paint Your Life.
A killer whale orca painted as part of a Save the Reef project sponsored by a paint manufacturer A skate boarder passes by the shadow of a fence on an underwater mural, painted as part of a Save the Reef project sponsored by a paint manufacturer The shadow of a picket fence falls on an underwater mural, painted as part of a Save the Reef project sponsored by a paint manufacturer