Street art in Vigo: the mural route

Twenty nine large fresco paintings decorate the dividing walls of buildings and other public spaces throughout the city of Vigo. This city, it follows the footsteps of great cities such as Lisbon, Lyon or Barcelona, with a long street art tradition and it displays its own open-air museum.

It all began in O Príncipe Street, Vigo's commercial golden mile. In 2014, the City Council of Vigo carried out there the first initiative to decorate the dividing walls of buildings with large murals, improving the urban aesthetic and, at the same time, the artistic expressions in large format. The Basque artist Luis Olaso was responsible for reproducing Fiestra (window), an oil painting by Urbano Lugrís, with graffiti; its dimensions are 14 metres × 18 metres (45.9 feet x 59 feet).

A few months later, it would start the first of the two calls held so far for the municipal programme of art on dividing walls and public spaces. The itinerary, apart from receiving a warm welcome in Vigo, is expected to be a tourist attraction; the third stage of this programme, which implies the addition of fifteen fresco paintings more to the collection, is currently in progress.

The city centre, suburbs, rural areas… The murals are distributed throughout different parts of Vigo, from the area of Teis to the area of Bouzas, and from O Areal to Lavadores. The list of selected artists is very wide and the techniques used for creating murals are diverse, just as their topics: from the sea to Jules Verne, including historic scenes, women or poetry, among many others. The colourful mural that the artist Iria Blanco designed and reproduced in the populous neighbourhood of Navia says: "The most common form of creativity involves turning the ordinary into something special".

Nelson Villalobos, Pelucas, Liqen, Peri, Berta Cáccamo, Ash Santos, Anthony, and other names that are part of a full list of more than 25 renowned artists, expressed their artistic creations in the streets of Vigo. The Coloso atlántico (Atlantic colossus) by Darío Basso stands in front of Guixar railway station; Xavier Magalhaes left his mark on the stairs of the Francisco Fernández del Riego art gallery; a little higher up, in Blein Budiño Street, Villalobos amazed everyone with La caracola (The seashell); the "fresco" painting by Alejandro Fernández, between the streets Gregorio Espino and Urzáiz, is impressive; and Liqen's painting in Hispanidad Avenue. Apart from the neighbourhood communities, schools have been directly involved in the initiative just as in the case of the Illas Cíes School, in Coia, which displays a spectacular "canvas" by Peri in two of its dividing walls.

The City Council of Vigo has published a guide, entitled Vigo, a cidade de cor (Vigo, the city of colour), in order to make the route of street art known and advertise it as a tourist attraction. Apart from the information about the artists, their works of art and a map with their location, the guide includes pieces of information about the nearest bus lines and stops in order to make the visit easier. The guide is available at the department of Tourism and it can be downloaded at the municipal website, in the section "Guides, maps and brochures".

Art in public squares

Other artistic initiatives supported by the municipal administration in public spaces are also part of this programme. At the crossing of Peniche, there were several houses in ruins, now boasts a beautiful mural by Antón Pulido, being 9 metres (29.5 feet) high and 14.5 metres (47.5 feet) wide. The colourist artistic work surrounds a small square much frequented by the residents

In another part of the city, specifically in the Martínez Garrido Avenue, there is a square in which art has a predominant position. There, Nelson Villalobos set up the largest wall sculpture in Vigo, being 56 metres (183.7 feet) long and 3 metres (9.8 feet) high. This was built as a tribute to the mayor after whom the avenue is named and to other victims of reprisals during the Spanish Civil War.

The deceased poetess María do Carme Kruckenberg is involved in another mural: the one located by the Roupeiro stairs, next to one of the central streets in the city, Rosalía de Castro. A beautiful text of her own authorship illustrates the artist's picture and it says: "I still believe that there are men capable of uprooting the last seed of love and tremble because of it". The "fresco" painting was created by Project Ewa. Finally, José Miguel Sagüillo decorated the stairs that link Torrecedeira Street and Pi i Margall Street with two seafaring themed murals.

Vigo also has interesting museums such as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Vigo (MARCO), the art gallery, the Museo do Mar de Galicia (Museum of the Galician Sea), among others. However, if you stroll around the streets, you may find art just around the corner.

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