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" : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
Earth Without Art is Just "EH"
A real woman, a  real window and a painted tree 
 : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
A real woman, 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. : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
General Pancho Villa and his horse Seven Leagues painted on the side of a house in Old Town.
Gangster graffiti Tag  : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
Gangster graffiti Tag
Carmen Poon taking a photo of bike tour participant Molly  : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
Carmen Poon taking a photo of bike tour participant Molly
Humming bird on a park wall : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
Humming bird on a park wall
Green-eyed Mayan goddess on a park wall : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
Green-eyed Mayan goddess on a park wall
Mysterious painted eyes stare out from a park mural. : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
Mysterious painted eyes stare out from a park mural.
Bicyclists take a photography break  : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
Bicyclists take a photography break
Graffiti quote that is part of a Gangster tag mural. All We need is Money. : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
Graffiti quote that is part of a Gangster tag mural. All We need is Money.
Park wall pug dog : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
Park wall pug dog
Carmen, owner of Puerto Vallarta Cycling, connecting  with a  painted pug dog's finger
 : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
Carmen, owner of Puerto Vallarta Cycling, connecting with a painted pug dog's finger
Barbara, bicycle tour participant. : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
Barbara, bicycle tour participant.
A painted house on a park wall  : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
A painted house on a park wall
Participants and  owners of the Fat Bike Graffiti and Art Tour posing in front of a  three story high mural of Frida Kahlo. : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
Participants and owners of the Fat Bike Graffiti and Art Tour posing in front of a three story high mural of Frida Kahlo.
Participants and the owners of Puerto Vallarta Cycling  in front of a work in progress mural : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
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. : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
Colorful, imaginatively rendered animals , tigers, bats, snakes and others painted on a four story residential building.
Wall painting depicting spraying a mosquito. Possibly a message about the Zika virus. : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
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.
 : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
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. : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
Classical stylized Mayan warriors decorate the front of a private house.
La CATRINA, symbol of The Day of the Dead on the wall of the cemetery.  : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
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 : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
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.  : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
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.  : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
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.  : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
La CATRINA, symbol of The Day of the Dead on the wall of the town cemetery.
Powerful image of a man wearing a leopard mask with tattoos of spider webs and the word Love on his arm : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
Powerful image of a man wearing a leopard mask with tattoos of spider webs and the word Love on his arm
Cauce restaurant in Old Town features giant painted tomatoes on each side of the entrance door. : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
Cauce restaurant in Old Town features giant painted tomatoes on each side of the entrance door.
A face wearing glasses decorates the shutters of an optical store in Old Town. : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
A face wearing glasses decorates the shutters of an optical store in Old Town.
A killer whale orca painted as part of a Save the Reef project sponsored by a paint manufacturer : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
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 : PUERTO VALLARTA - Wall Art & Bicycle Tour : Viviane Moos |  Documentary Photographer
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