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Street Art: Mexico City's Urban Furniture
Street Art in Mexico City
The Iconic Streets of the World and Mexico City
We can all agree that every cosmopolitan city in the world has its iconic street, drive, square or avenue; an image that closely resembles the outward image of a vibrant world class city. Some of them even have more than one: New York for example has internationally recognizable Times Square but also Broadway and Fifth Avenue just to name a few.
Other cities have only one very clear and specific icon: Champs- Élysées in Paris, Shibuya Street in Tokio, Rodeo Drive in L.A., Der Graben in Vienna, La Gran Via in Spain..... you get what I mean.
In the case of Mexico City, we have Paseo de la Reforma, which means "Reform Drive" (reform as in making better or improve by removing faults). This iconic drive is a very broad street -quite similar to Champs Élysées in París-, characterized by wide sidewalks with big leafy trees, stone paved walkways, benches, cafes and street art.
Unusual Street Art
Paseo de la Reforma: The Street Art Open Forum
Paseo de la Reforma has become a space intended to represent Mexico City's step into modernity by participating in urban, interactive and avant-garde ways to present art. It is an important avenue that has been taken by the government as a full on project to transform it into the best version of itself, by remodeling its appearance and redefining its architectural concept.
Today, Reforma has traditional and modern architecture that blends with its big, tall and stylish buildings; the constructions alternate between Victorian houses and facades -which date back to Porfirio Diaz's times-, and more contemporary designs that, like the layers of the earth, clearly indicate the different styles that have been formed over the years and post-revolutionary era.
Paseo de la Reforma is an iconic drive of great significance as it holds some of the most representative ceremonial centers –like the majestic Castle of Chapultepec and the golden Angel standing as a monument to Independence, the Independence Angel-, as well as headquarters of large multinational companies, the Stock Exchange, and one of the biggest parks in Mexico City, the Chapultepec Park, which besides being an important natural lung in this polluted city, is home to a cultural and recreational compound for all economical statuses.
In this framework, where all the inhabitants of Mexico City converge, regardless of their social status, no matter if they are employers or employees, white or blue collar, housewives or businessmen, children or adults, male or female, Paseo de la Reforma has united the wide range of citizens and become host of magnificent cultural and artistic exhibitions, as well as large public proceedings such as concerts, parades and sports events.
Bench Dialogues: an Urban Art Exhibition, part of the Street Art Project in Reforma, Mexico City
Urban Art Functionality & SymbolismClick thumbnail to view full-size
Street Art: Urban Sculpture / Urban Furniture Exhibition
In the stretch of Paseo de la Reforma that goes from the roundabout of the Independence Angel to Insurgentes Avenue, there is an exceptional art exhibit which provides functionality to neighbors, visitors permanent to the area, tourists, lovers and simple admiring passers-by.
The exhibit is called "Bench Dialogues" and it is a group of unique pieces of urban furniture that witness the daily events, conversations and secrets of locals, while providing a comfortable place to relax from an exhausting walk, a long day of labor, or to sit comfortably during break time from school or work, and admire the street art.
Bench Dialogues has 70 sculpted benches, primarily made with steel and bronze by the same number of visual artists, architects and industrial designers, to enhance and augment the street art of Mexico's iconic drive.
The street art exhibition was initiated and instigated by Isaac Masri, head of Impronta Publishing, who said about the street art exhibit: since "dialogue is needed in our country", this exhibition has no claim but to offer "seats for people to sit down and talk".
The ensemble includes benches, chairs, sofas and structures of different levels, which offer visitors interactive street art and comfort, an oasis amid the urban maelstrom; a duo that allows people to rest and admire the artistic work that brings beauty to the urban landscape.
The usual sign "do not touch" apparently has no place in the sculpture exhibition of art-object "Bench Dialogues". Interactive and usable playing cards, cubes, undulating benches, couches, couples, hippos, seesaws, hand-seats, vertical condominium seats, benches that are not only opening a space for dialogue, but are also speaking to their users.
Take for example the art-piece made of a group of chairs placed together in the same disposition as used in the famous "musical chairs" game; they are also making reference to the electric chair used to execute death row inmates; pure symbolism with clear messages.
Street Art: Opening Spaces for Dialogue
Art & Design Come Together in Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico
Mexico City's Open Air Residence for Urban Culture and Street Art
Paseo de la Reforma is now well consolidated as an open air residence for culture and street art. The benches, which have become part of the permanent urban furniture of the city, invite us to make a pause in a metropolis where time seems to become increasingly scarce, and interaction with other individuals, opportunity to chat and time to relax are becoming more difficult to come by.
If you plan to visit Mexico City, a walking tour of Paseo de la Reforma is a must. It will cost nothing and it will be full of enriching urban culture and street art such as the Bench Dialogue art-object exhibit (among many others).
Interactive Street Art: You Can Participate
Which street art piece of urban furniture do you like best?
Street Art Exhibition Authors
Authors of "Bench Dialogues" Urban Art Project: Leonora Carrington, Vicente Rojo, Teodoro González de León, Fernando González Gortázar, Francisco Toledo, Sergio Hernández, Alberto y Francisco Castro Leñero, Saúl Kaminer, Legorreta + Legorreta, Luis Manuel Serrano, Noé Katz, Naomi Siegmann, Manuel Felguérez, Gustavo Monroy, Vicente y Alba Rojo Cama, Eloy Tarcisio, Pedro Friedeberg, Yvonne Domenge, among others.
Interaction and Feedback
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Other Forms of Street Art
- Awesome Street Paintings Of Kurt Wenner
- Stikman - a Look at Mysterious Stickman Street Art in Crosswalks
Stikman is an anonymous graffiti artist, sometimes perhaps going by the alias "Bob," who has been putting these images up since at least 2006.