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Longest Mural in the World Us, Mexico Border

The border between the United States and Mexico has existed for a number of years without any major problems. The wall has been used to cross over by various immigrants looking for a better life in the states.

There have been a lot of changes in policies since president Trump took power. With the suggestion to build a new wall, relations between the US and Mexico were strained. Trump proposed that Mexico pay for the wall but in the end, it seems that the US will have to foot the bill.

Art is a good way of reconciling the community to the events of their times. Artists have used their voice to bring the community to awareness. A man by the name of Enrique Chiru came up with a brilliant concept of using art to spread positive messages.

How, you ask? By a mural.

Dubbed the Mural of Brotherhood, the project seeks to cover 700 miles of the 2000 mile border. The aim is to become the longest mural in the world.  The mural being painted faces the Mexican side giving hope while shedding light on Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.

Born in Mexico himself, he crossed the border at a young age together with his mother. In the one year that he lived in LA without legal papers, he came to understand some of the problems that immigrants face.

He wanted to give back to the Tijuana community by passing these visual messages of hope. There even images that indicate that the people are against plans of building the wall. Beginning in 2016, the mural has gained momentum drawing international attention.

This was not his first mural. He has over 18 years of experience in the world of art. He has painted over 80 murals. These murals have been located in different cities like California and Guatemala among others. With all the experience, he was suited to conduct this project. The fact that it was his hometown was the cherry on top of the cake.

While it did not start as a world record breaking project, it started as a simple way to maintain and beautify the border. Enrique Chiru said “The wall is rusty and dirty, they never do maintenance. I wanted to beautify it to give something back to the community.”

The project as it continues to expand it has been worked on by over 2600 volunteers. Enrique Chiu sometimes directs the painting so as to ensure that everything looks neat and that the message is clear. He is known to draw outlines of what is to be painted to give direction to the volunteers who have never painted before.

Once the outline is complete, the volunteers have complete freedom to choose the colors that they want. The initiative is still ongoing and more people are volunteering to paint the large mural. This project has brought a lot of people together and created a bond that is cemented completion of the mural.

When asked by the Lonely planet Travel News on the progress on the wall, Enrique Chiu stated “So far we have painted two kilometers in Tijuana, half a kilometer in the city of Tecate and half a kilometer in Mexicali. I want to make a change in the world like many people, and I think I’m achieving it. Through art and the will of people, a social and cultural movement is being made that can fill people with positive feelings and send messages in this huge canvas we have. Every weekend people, friends, and artists keep arriving to achieve this union,”

Already, he and his team have covered tremendous ground. With 1.3miles covered, there is still more to go. He even has an idea to paint on the other side of the wall if the US gives their permission. This would be a lovely idea as both sides of the wall will send a message of peace and unity for both nations.

With a world record in view, Enrique Chiu and his team are working non-stop. The record was held by the Pueblo Levee project in Colorado. Unfortunately, the project gave in to wear and tear as the levee had to be repaired. While the 3mile project gets repaired, the mural of brotherhood will hold its place.

More people and public institutions have offered their support thus making the project an achievable dream. There are no restrictions as to age or skill. All can paint and add their contribution to the largest outdoor mural to be.

Are you interested? Join the bandwagon and make the mural a success. You won’t regret it.

David Alfaro Siqueiros

David Siqueiros was born in 1896 in Chihuahua the second born in a family of three children. At a young age, his mother died, and his father sent them to live with their grandparents. His grandfather from that moment on played an enormous role in shaping his growth since he spent his childhood with his grandfather.

David Alfaro Siqueiros mural featuring a man reaching out and appearing to tear the mural with his fingernails

In many accounts of his birth and childhood, false dates and speculations have been given even by him, but his story begins in Chihuahua 1896 and proceeds to include moving to his grandparents. David joined a school in 1902 in Guanajuato. During his years in school, he had taken to political ideologies, and the theories put out by the likes of Dr. Atl. He also explained that his first outburst was by his sister who refused to conform to their father’s religious rules.

In 1911, Siqueiros while at the Academy of San Carlos took part in a strike that whose aim was to impeach the director because the students did not like the teaching methods that the school was using. The riot paved the way for the establishment of an open air Academy in Santa Anita. David was only fifteen when he took part in the riot.

By 18 years, he had joined the school of fine arts. He and his friends joined Carranza’s army and fought the government of Huerta. The end of the revolution in 1914 meant that now the fight against political factions picked up. He traveled while in the army, and he got a better understanding of the Mexican culture.

After Carranza had taken power, Siqueiros took to painting in Mexico for a short time and then moved to Europe in 1919. He got the Cubism influence in Paris, and he found the work of Paul Cezanne a marvel, especially his use of large blocks of intense color. He met Diego Rivera in Paris. They later became part of the big three but not before traveling throughout Italy together and studying the fresco technique.

Artistic and political career

Siqueiros had political interests besides being a famous painter. There were speculations that sometimes his political needs hindered his artistic nature but he believed that his two greatest interests were co-dependent. His time abroad exposed him to Marxism, and it was evident in his manifesto, Vida Americana. In the manifesto, he was trying to grow his unique style that can marry national and universal art.

He made his way back to Mexico in 1922 where he took a job working as a muralist for the government of Alvaro Obregon. When Jose Vasconcelos began hiring artists to help educate the masses and preserve the Mexican culture, Siqueiros was hired and worked alongside Diego and Orozco. In turn, Vasconcelos gave his support to the muralist movement through commissioning murals in prominent buildings.

David Alfaro Siqueiros revolution mural

In as much as thoroughly were approved for famous buildings, they still lacked the public element to them, and this led Siqueiros to be among the founders of the Syndicate of Revolutionary Mexican Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers in 1923. The syndicate dealt with publicizing the art of the artists by starting a newspaper, “El Machete.” The newspaper put out a manifesto that Siqueiros had taken part in authoring.

The declaration insisted on the importance of having collective art that can educate the masses and do away with individualistic art. His famous “Burial of a worker” mural did not get to be complete. Students destroyed it because they felt that it was an overly political painting.

The government had made promises that it had not fulfilled and the pressure began to build up as the movement became even more critical of the government through their art. The rift and strains with the government that had been funding murals left the Syndicate in awe of whether to keep publishing their newspaper.

The officials of the union had different opinions which saw to the exit of Diego from the union because Siqueiros was more focused on politics than the artistic value of their work. He was relieved of duty from the department of education in 1925, but he still followed his vision which later got him jailed in 1930.

He took part in political activities even after his release from prison until 1932 when he left for Europe and picked up his artistic career as a muralist. He tried modern painting methods while there and came up with two very famous murals. On these paintings, he worked in a team. The first Mural did not last long after its unveiling. Many speculate that it was because of its general theme while others said that it was because of weather issues that made the painting wash up.

David Alfaro Siqeiros The Mexican Revolution

The second mural is considered more radical than the first one, but it got a better reception than the first one. The wall got partial covering in 1934 and thoroughly washed in 1938 however. The mural then underwent restoration eight years later done by the Getty Conservation Institute. The painting became open to the public in 2012, on its 80th birthday. There is a Tropical Interpretive Center that is especially to honor the life of David Siqueiros.

Siqueiros artistic style

He had a much-propelled vision and belief that art should be public for all to see and learn from its messages. His work’s main basis was on the revolution; he tried to shed light on human struggles so that the end of capitalist rulers would come. He incorporated the Mexican culture and history into some of his paintings which he mainly used as accessories to his main story.

Though many said that he was more political than artist, his vision was clear to him as he fought to get to show and communicate to the upper and lower class alike. He took part in the first ever Mexican Incidental with Orozco, Diego, and Tamayo in 1950 at the XXV Venice Biennale. He got second place, a prize that recognized the status of Mexican art internationally.

Later life

“The people to the university, the university to the people,” is an outdoor mural that Siqueiros painted at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1952. He began working on a 4500sqft mural in 1957 that was his biggest painting yet. It was a government commissioned painting for Chapultepec Castle.

The people to the university, the university to the people," is an outdoor mural that Siqueiros painted at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1952

He also made a multi-angular mural in Hospital de Raza that used new and modern materials. Siqueiros was not opposed to technology, and he expressed a liking for modernity. His views drew a rift between him and the government which saw to his arrest in 1960 over his public criticism of the president. He was also sued by the Jorge Negrete Theater for breach of contract too in 1958.

His arrest led to protests from artists and painters, he, however, continued painting and his works continued to sell. He was released in 1964 and immediately picked up on his work at the theater where he was on suspension.

He was the youngest of the big three but comfortably expressed his views with no fear. His Marxist influence made his views mainly communist. He participated in many artistic as well as political activities which made him both politician and muralist.

The circumstances and confusion surrounding his birth and upbringing were put to rest when a Mexican art curator came about his birth certificate in 2003. His original name was Alfaro, but he had changed his name to David when his wife called him so. She referred to him as David who was in the painting by Michelangelo.

diego rivera

Artist Profile: Diego Rivera

His name is quite a mouthful, but he was known shortly as Diego Rivera, born on December 8, 1886, to a wealthy family in Guanajuato, Mexico. He had a twin brother named Carlos who did not live beyond two years. At the age of three years old, Diego was already drawing. His artistic talents showed themselves very early in his life.

He began painting on the walls in their house, and his parents put up chalkboards and canvas on the walls. They nurtured his talents by not punishing him but providing him a means to grow himself. He was said to be of a Judaism descent that was forced to convert into Catholic, but he said in 1935 that his Jewishness was the dominant element of his life.

Diego_Rivera,_c.1916,_Maternidad,_Angelina_y_el_niño_Diego,_oil_on_canvas,_134.5_x_88.5_cm,_Museo_de_Arte_Carrillo_GilWhen he grew up, he got married in 1911 to his wife, Angelina Beloff. She gave birth to a son Diego. Maria Stebelska gave birth to a daughter, Marika in 1918 when Diego was still married. In 1922, he married Guadalupe Marin and had two daughters, Ruth and Guadalupe. He met Frida Kahlo when he was still with his second wife.

They later got married in 1929; she was only a 22-year-old student while he was 42. They both stepped out on their marriage which led to a divorce in 1939. December of 1940, he remarried Frida in San Francisco. He married his agent, Emma Hurtado a year after the death of Frida.

Diego studied at the Academy of San Carlos since he was ten. He got sponsorship to study abroad by Teodoro Mendez, the then governor of Veracruz. Diego arrived in Europe, 1907 and went to study with Eduardo Chicharro in Madrid. He then went to Paris where he set up shop and worked with the artists of Montparnasse, mostly La Ruche where Amedeo Modigliani, his friend made a portrait of him in 1914. Marie Vorobieff’s painting honored him and his close friends, a very exclusive group in 1962, the homage to friends from Montparnasse.

Amedeo_Modigliani_038

Paris was just starting to see cubism sprout in paintings with painters like Picasso, Braque, and Gris. Rivera studied art at his new school in 1913-1917. He drew inspiration from Paul Cezanne’s work and began focusing on post-impressionism which was pure art forms with bright colors. The bold step started getting him noticed. He was able to show several of them in various exhibitions.

Rivera died in 1957 November 24, still an atheist. He said that he found religion to be a form of collective neurosis. His atheist nature came into question when his Mural, Dreams of a Sunday in the Alameda had Ignacio Ramirez holding a sign that stated God does not exist. The sign became an issue, but Rivera stood his ground and refused to remove the sign. Diego’s painting was kept out of any exhibitions or public showings until he finally removed the sign which was nine years later.

Diego Rivera Career in Mexico

During the Mexican Revolution, when the government began calling back artists to work on Murals depicting Mexican culture, Diego was among the chosen artists. In 1920, he traveled from Paris to Mexico through Italy where he made a quick stop to learn their art. He arrived in Mexico in 1921 and became part of the mural movement together with the two other members of Los tres grande and other artists.

Palacio_de_Bellas_Artes_-_Mural_El_Hombre_in_cruce_de_caminos_Rivera_3

In 1922, he experimented with encaustic, his first mural of significance in the Bolivar Auditorium in the National Preparatory School, Mexico. He was guarding himself with a pistol during the work from the right wing students. In the same year, he took part in starting the Revolutionary Union of Technical Workers, Painters, and Sculptors. He also joined the Communist party in 1922.

He did his murals using the fresco technique more and more, and he centered his works on the Mexican society and the revolution that had taken place. He grew his unique style complete with bold colors and Aztec influence. Murals in the secretariat of public education had the Aztec influence evident on them.

His art was on the walls of universities, schools and even public buildings. In 1923 and 1927, he was working on Tierra Fecundada, meaning fertile land in Chapingo Universty. The mural shows the struggles and pains of the lower class and the working class. The mural also had his then wife Guadalupe as a fertile, naked goddess together with their daughter Guadalupe as a cherub. An earthquake damaged the painting, but after renovation, it was better.

AMORC Membership

AMORC (Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis) was a cult whose founder was Harvey Spencer Lewis. Diego joined the cult in 1926 and was among its founders. AMORC Mexico City Lodge, known as Quetzalcoatl began and he painted an image of the lodge for the local temple.

His support of Trotsky had seen him tossed out of the communist party. He tried to rejoin the party in 1954 where he had to explain his involvement with AMORC. The party turned him away, and he became a full member of the cult.

After Mexico

Diego worked in many regions of the world. He, in fact, traveled to Moscow in 1927 where he took part in the celebrations for the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution. Rivera met Alfred Barr Jr in Russia, and soon became his mentor and friend. He was also the director of the Museum of Modern Art.

1024px-Diego_Rivera_-_Street_in_Ávila_(Ávila_Landscape)_-_Google_Art_Project

Diego received orders from the Russian government to paint a mural for the Red Army. It was because he had gotten entangled in anti-Soviet politics. He returned to Mexico in 1929. The same year, the first English language book in Mexico was about Diego was published in New York. It was titled the frescoes of Diego Rivera.

He accepted a job by the American ambassador to Mexico to paint murals in the Palace of Cortes in Cuernavaca. Shortly after, in 1930, he accepted an invitation from an architect Timothy L to paint in San Francisco. He arrived in the US with his then wife Kahlo, and he painted a mural for the City Club for $2500. He made a fresco for the California school of fine art that later became the Diego Rivera gallery.

In 1931 November, Diego and his wife were at the museum of modern art where Diego’s works were on display. In 1932-1933, he was able to complete his very famous series of 27 fresco panels that were called Detroit Industry.

He began working on Man at the crossroads in 1933 for the Rockefeller Center in New York. The painting brought controversy and saw to Diego’s return to Mexico the same year. He repainted the man at the crossroads. In 1940 June, Pflueger invited Diego back, and he came back to the US for the last time. He got the task of painting a ten-panel mural for the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco.

bonampak mural room

Mexican Muralism

Mexican muralism was promoting mural painting. It was during the early 1920s, and it was through social and political messages. It was in an attempt to reunify the Mexico after the Mexican Revolution. The Mexican muralism was by Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. They were the biggest and most known painters in Mexico.

From the inception of Mexican muralism, 1920-1970 saw the painting of very many murals that had nationalistic messages in them. Drawings of social and political messages on public buildings also took root. The Mexican muralism began a tradition that is still present to date.

It has had an effect on other parts of Americas, including the US. It was the inspiration for the Chicano art movement. The importance and influence of this tradition final felt all over Mexico and other parts of the world.

The honored tradition of painting murals in Mexico began with the Olmec civilization. Mural paintings were mostly evangelical and insisted on Christian teachings during the pre-Hispanic and colonial period. In the 19th century, the social and political mural painting began to take root.

Juan Cordero was the first painter to use a philosophical theme in his wall painting in the mid-19th century. Most of his works had religious affiliations like the cupola of the Santa Teresa Church; he did a secular art on request from Gabino Barreda.

The 19th century became the Porfirio Diaz regime. The government initialized cultural development in the country by funding the study of artists abroad. The intention was good and pure, but there was no promotion of the Mexican culture. That is when Gerald Murillo stepped in and brought about the idea that the paintings should reflect the Mexican way of life for cultural promotion and preservation.

murales rivera Markt in Tlatelolco 3

Being the first modern muralist to get recognition, he was able to get the government to change their line of art promotion and allow muralists to paint on public building walls. He also put together an exhibition of native Mexicans where they could showcase their art.

The first mural by Gerald was female nudes that had Atl-color, a color he came up with from his famous nickname Dr. Atl. Since the government’s art promotion program had given emphasis to European art, Jose Guadalupe Posada through his graphic work made cartoons to mock the European style using social and political themes.

The Mexican revolution came about in rejection of the Porfirio Diaz. A group of intellects that gave emphasis to populist philosophy came together with Gerald and Posada; they had a shared vision that gave way to the next generation of painters to adopt the social and political themes. Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros followed the populist path.

The ideas and visions of the group became famous and influential that the Diaz regime came to an end. The defeat only took a year, but decades late, the struggle for power was still evident. There was a constant change in governments because of the extreme number of assassinations.

One party leadership under Alvaro Obregon in the 1920s saw to the end of the era, and his leadership began the Partido Revolucionario Institucional regime. Gerald was able to support the works of Diego Rivera, Alfaro and Clemente by supporting the Carranza faction. They later became the founders of the muralism movement in Mexico.

Mural movement

After the revolution, a time when most Mexicans were illiterate, Jose Vasconcelos became the head of education, and he came up with an idea for the government to back the mural program. He wanted the murals to be for social and cultural promotion. The government got the best artists to paint murals.

The muralists had their differences, but they all had one believe, that art was a great way of educating the public. The first project that the government took part in was on three levels at the Jesuit institution. The painting was on the inside of the institution.

hoy tamay

The first project opened up the way for more murals on the interior walls of several buildings. From 1920 to 1950, the painting movement was at its peak strongest point and took part in the transformation of the people to literacy. During the time, the murals were a way of getting art to be seen by everyone not just the rich and also a way of ensuring that artists had freedom to express themselves through art.

The movement took place in steps that are, the heroic phase that was in the 1920s, this stage gave way to the statist phase that began in 1930. Leonard Folgarait gave a description that 1940 was the era of rebirth for the mural movement. The big three, Diego, Clemente and Alfaro spent the post-revolution era developing their work. The government took a step back from mural painting, and the mural movement became private. The sponsors for the murals now became banks, theaters, and hotels.

Los tres grande

The big three is the name that best describes the most influential and remarkable muralists from the 20th century. They defined the muralist movement and proved that art could be the highest form of human expression. Each of them was different in their style and way of expression, they all made a very significant impact.

Diego’s style was more utopian and idealist, Clemente had critical and pessimistic works while Alfaro had the most original paintings of all. Their experiences affected their styles, and that’s why they each had their unique style. Rivera mostly drew from European modernism and traditional art styles. He had Mexican themes that he got from typical real life scenarios.

Clemente in his early works had a European style but then later evolved to angry and depictions of human suffering and fear of technology. He is the one artist who did not praise the Mexican revolution. He had been in the middle of the revolution and decided to share the horrors of the revolution through his art.

Siqueiros joined the army when he was eighteen and was the youngest of the three. He was also the most radical one since he experienced the revolution from the front lines. He used modern enamel in his work. He was fascinated with technology. He did most of his work in South America because his radicalism had seen him banned from Mexico and the US.

a view of the exterior of bonampak site, an ancient and majestic temple is visible

Bonampak – Temple of Murals

Bonampak is the temple of murals. It is an ancient Maya archaeological site in Chiapas, Mexico. The Bonampak was dependent on the Yaxchilan which is only 30 kilometers away. The site is not a unique site regarding architecture, but it has claimed its place through the murals in the three rooms of the Bonampak.

The site’s construction occurred in the late classic period (500 AD – 800 AD). It is home to the Maya murals that have high-quality preservation. The Bonampak murals set the record straight on the assumption that the Maya were a peaceful culture. The paintings depict war and human sacrifice among the Maya.

The first non-Mayans to see the site saw it in 1946. No accurate information on who was the first there. Speculations dominate on who was. First, some of the most know speculations are that it was two American travelers or photographers. The Americans got to the site through the guidance of a Mayan who paid visits to the ancient temples to pray. The photographer was the first to see the paintings that cover the walls on one of the rooms. The murals show war and victory.

a view of the bonampak murals looking at ceiling area of temple room

History of Bonampak

Bonampak and Yaxchilan leaders fought for supremacy. Bird Jaguar from Bonampak and K’inich Skull from Yaxchilan were in a battle in the 5th century that Bird lost. By 600 CE Bonampak was a part of Yaxchilan. During this time that Yaxchilan had Bonampak in its wraps, the commissioning of the murals took place. The king of Yaxchilan has Yaxchilan artists put up the structure in 790 CE. In the 9th century, Bonampak broke free from Yaxchilan.

The structures at Bonampak

Structure one at Bonampak was at the end of the eight century. It is 16 meters long, four meters thick and seven meters tall. It is on a T-shape platform, and speculations state that it had a roof comb. The structure has three rooms that each has murals with details on the ascension to power of Chooj, the son of the Bonampak ruler Yajaw Muwan.

There have been disputes as to the order of events, but most people just opt to view it in chronological order. You begin in the first room and end with the third room. The first room contains a sense of tribute, dressing, dance and musical performances. The second room depicts conflict, torture in the company of great members of court and echelons of the victorious. The third room has dance scenes, observers, and performance of rituals.

There are 281 human representations in the rooms. Most of them have captions, 1/3 have names while most the rest of them contain no titles. Theories are trying to explain why more than half have no captions while others have.

a view of the walls in the bonampak temple, figures are visible painted on the walls

One of the theories is deaths or due to change in politics. The Bonampak murals are not from one mind but a team of experts who put to work to realize these murals. Every person involved possessing a unique set of skills that brought about the realization of the walls in structure one.

The outside of the structure does not enjoy as much preservation as the rooms. It once had great color, hues of Maya blue, red and green. In 1996, a team of Yale University students led by their lecturer Mary Miller made the Bonampak Documentation where they studied the Bonampak murals even more.

Each of the rooms is a unique story that is rich in detail for those keen in observing. To understand the Bonampak murals, one needs to take the time to study each one in the believed chronological order. The history of Maya is extensively on the walls. They must have taken a chance to put up, but the expertise has seen to their presence centuries later.

intricate carvings into the wall adorn the bonampak temple

Room 1

The first room is where the opening scene is. There is an ongoing event acknowledging the right of Chooj to rule. There are visitors’ present and influential people in the land. The representation of the meeting is 77 human figures who are all carrying their particular functions in the event. The ruling class is clearly shown with the dressing that they have on and where they sit.

There is evidence of dancers and instrumentalists on the south wall towards the east wall. There is an assortment of entertainers visible and one of the figures depicts that of a modern day smoker. He holds a cigarette and shows a lack of interest or boredom in the event at hand. There are extensive details on the meeting in the first room.

Room 2

The second room shows the greatest battle ever shown in Maya art. It is the largest room and has 139 human figure, more than any other room. At first glance, you meet the south wall that has soldiers in battle. There are blasting trumpets as the actions pick pace. The wall brings to perspective one of the great Maya beliefs that is, being left hand is a sign of weakness. The warriors who loose are left hand users, and others stripped naked.

Every inch of the wall has a recap of the battle in detail and shows the power of the right hand as the ruler holds up a spear covered in jaguar skin with his right hand to show authority and victory. Some of the defeated soldiers are even shown to have two left hands.

Room 3

Here, in this room, there is a kind of celebration. It is a ritual celebration of being victorious in battle. There is blood spilling by the nobles. There are 65 human figures in this room. The first and most noticeable figures are the three individuals standing together.

The ruler’s son is seen kneeling, holding an ax in his right hand and what the heart of the sacrificial victim on his left hand. The heart is said to have been a still beating heart. The ritual ceremony also has dancers.

The Bonampak is the temple of murals that detail the lives of the Mayas and show an extended form of war, victory and human sacrifice among the Maya. To understand the details on the art, there have been publications on the murals that explain more detail the contents.

photograph of diego rivera

Artist Profile: Diego Rivera

While many people will point to Frida Kahlo as Mexico’s most famous artist, the impact of Diego Rivera on murals, both in his home country of Mexico and around the world, is still felt today. Known for his particularly large frescoes, his work helped to establish the Mexican Mural Movement in Mexican art.

Rivera grew up in Mexico and studied art from a young age. His studies would eventually take him to France and Italy, where he learned from such artists as Eduardo Chicharro, Ilya Ehrenburg, Chaim Soutine, and Amedeo Modigliani. While in Europe, Rivera witnessed firsthand the growing popularity of cubism and his own work saw a heavy cubist influence in those early days. He gradually shifted towards post-impressionism a few years later before coming back to Mexico at the request of Mexican officials. It was during this period that he and two other artists, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, started painting frescos and murals for the Mexican government.

Artwork by Diego Rivera, c.1916, Maternidad

Diego Rivera, c.1916, Maternidad

Rivera’s mural style became and important moment in Mexican history, not simply because of their political messages (much of his work dealt with Mexican history and its major revolution in 1910) but because of their incorporation of Mexican art styles. While trained mostly in Europe, Rivera used “large, simplified figures and bold colors with an Aztec influence.” His frescos also took storytelling techniques from the Maya, and many of his larger pieces tell entire stories. Combining his technical training from Europe with his Mexican heritage, his work became widely renowned and continues as an example of Mexican art to this day.

artwork titled flower carrier painted by diego rivera in 1935

Diego Rivers, c.1935, “Flower Carrier”

Diego Rivera is one of Mexico’s most famous and most notorious painters, mostly due to his volatile relationship with Frida Kahlo. Rivera met Kahlo while he was still married to his second wife, Guadalupe Marín. They met at a party hosted by a mutual acquaintance, Tina Modotti, where Kahlo asked for Rivera’s opinion about her paintings. Later, Rivero was quoted as saying Kahlo’s art had “an unusual energy of expression, precise delineation of character, and true severity … They had a fundamental plastic honesty, and an artistic personality of their own … It was obvious to me that this girl was an authentic artist.”

picture of renouned mexican artists diego rivera and frido kahlo taken in 1932

Frida Kahlo with Diego Rivera, c.1932

Despite being 20 years her senior, and being a noted womanizer, the two married in a civil ceremony at the town hall of Coyoacán on August 21, 1929. They remained married for ten years but divorced due to “their mutual infidelities and his violent temper.” The divorce was short-lived, however, and they remarried in 1940, staying together until her death in 1954.

Diego Rivera is often eclipsed by his wife and life, but his art remains an important moment for muralists and street art. Despite sharing a close relationship with the Mexican government, his ability to weave a distinctly Mexican style into his work helped pave the way for a national character of art. Other countries, such as Brazil, has made similar steps, drawing on the skills of muralists around the world and infusing them with a nationalistic flavour. His work, while largely lost now, is a testament to the importance of producing and supporting local artists.

huge mural in pachuca, mexico

The Biggest Mural in Pachuca, Mexico

If there’s one thing that’s true about street art, it’s that it’s getting bigger. Sometimes that means it’s getting more recognition, being displayed in more and more places, or the artists themselves are enjoying more and more attention, and hopefully compensation, for their work. But if you’re in Pachuca, Mexico, when you say that street art’s getting bigger, you’re probably referring to size over anything else.

The reason that you’d immediately think of a big, sizeable mural over the recognition or traction street art is gaining is probably because you’ve walked by the neighbourhood of Palmitas. This neighbourhood, just like the many colourful residential neighbourhoods, has plenty of fun houses made with different hues and tones, but there’s a key difference: Palmitas wasn’t the result of cheap paint or building supplies, it was done by professional muralists and local people through a government grant.

Palmitas, like many places in Mexico, is a nice neighbourhood that needing some sprucing up. The area was suffering in many different ways, from street violence and poverty to larger issues like unemployment and a lack of funds for neighbourhood problems. So the Mexican government decided to intervene and help out the neighbourhood. In the process, they managed to land the little place on the world stage.

Starting out as a grant, the Mexican government envisioned a mural project that could improve the area. The goal of the project, however, was not just to beautify the area, but to give it a facelift in all areas, and to give the people something to be proud of. For expert advice and project leaders, the government turned to the German collective, a group of designers and artists who set about planning the project.

Once it was down on paper, the project was massive. Over 20,000 square feet of walls needed to be painted, stretching across over 200 homes in the neighbourhood, all of which were settled up a small hill above a main road. Bright colours were chosen for the mural, with bold patterns that could be easily painted across the facades. With such a large project, the German collective couldn’t do it themselves, so they enlisted the help of locals, giving them work to do in the year that the project took to be completed.

The project was a resounding success. According to Street Art News, the the project brought immediate results, improving the lives of many of the residents pretty much from the seond paint hit the walls. “On top of beautifying the neighbourhood, the project has been a tool of social transformation,” the magazine reported, “During the process, the violence amongst younger people has been entirely eradicated and several jobs created.” While there may have been only 209 houses filled with 452 families, the results were felt by a much larger amount of people, starting the the town of Pachuca and rippling out across the world.