Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Punta Arenas Graffiti Posted 2/2013 and restored 8/2014

 Punta Arenas in Chile is a city that I will want to live in.  It is a small quiet town where even the dogs obey the traffic lights.  No matter where you go, graffiti are the dominant subject.  So I decided to name it the “The Graffiti Capital of World.”  I had been visiting there since 2004 several times and had seen the evolution of graffiti; it appears that the climax of graffiti expression diminished by the end of the first decade of the XXI century.  Last year I noticed the decay of popular intrusive art; the images are decaying fast due to the harsh weather conditions such as rain, sun and wind. 

The paint is peeling and losing its colors not to mention the deterioration of substrate where they were applied to.  And then, we have the recent vandals that are adding their names, expressions of love and pornography to the original works of those that originally defaced the wall of buildings and brick fences.  So enjoy my latest collection of graffiti before it is gone. 

During my recent visit in January, stray dogs have become a safety issue due to the numerous dog bites inflicted in the citizens. So like anywhere there is a split in the community, those who want to get rid of them and those that want to maintain the status quo.  There are dogs everywhere and when lying in a sidewalk of door entrance they will not move.  As a result, the trash receptacles in the city are elevated so the dogs cannot scavenge the trash bags.  And some are very original and artistic in design as shown below; this has been there for some time and I always walk by to say hello.

Punta Arenas was a very wealthy city between the 1850 and 1920 when it was important port for the ships crossing the Magellan Strait navigating from the U.S East and West coast.  Most of those adventurers from the U.S. East Coast that went to California during the Gold Rush came this way.  Another source of wealth was the exportation of wool mostly to England.  The maritime industry is still active and the city is visited regularly by cruise ships, a host of a Chilean Navy major command, and where old piers and shipwrecks of old sailing ships adorn the shores.  At one time, it was the crossroads of the world.

Energy has been also and on/off source of wealth.  In 2010 when I was there, there were posters in the streets and signs along the roads fighting the opening of coal mines.  Well, the environmentalists lost and the coal mine has been opened.  Ironically, while I was there they announced the closing of the gas plant.  The plant can be seen coming into the city from the north with its wind turbines.  These were used to generate electricity for the plant and were installed by 2011, since they were not there the prior year when I visited.

Just waiting for my next arrival to my favorite Hotel Plaza as well as my daily visit to the second floor of the Mercado, where the best and cheapest food can be found.  Maybe by then, I will be able to revisit the Menendez Mansion that has been under renovation during the last two years…things still move slowly down at the end of the world.

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