While down in Puerto Rico this past fall for the Los Muros Hablan festival, I met a number of local artists – new to me – whose work intrigued me. Among these was Philip Cruz aka Pun18 whose surreal images fuse elements of comic, graffiti and pop art. These are two recent works Pun18 shared with me.
The exterior surfaces of many of San Juan’s decayed and abandoned buildings – along with the concrete walls found largely in its public housing projects – have become canvases for some of the most vibrant graffiti and alluring street art that I’ve seen anywhere. Here is a sampling of what we saw on our recent visit:
Bad, a member of the HD crew, escorted us to walls we never would have found on our own, while delivering cans of spray paint to just about every artist getting up in town. Curious about it all, we had the chance to ask him some questions on a brief coffee break:
Tell us about all these cans of spray paint that travel with you. What exactly is your role here?
I represent Montana Colors in the Caribbean. I am its sole distributor.
How did that come to be?
I saw that there was a need here for quality spray paints. Too many graff artists were using cheap paints. When I began getting up in 2002, I used to have to get mine from the States. And this way I am doing a service for the artists, and I am also making money.
How has this job affected your life?
It is my life. I know at least one graff writer in every country. I have a home anywhere I travel. It’s the best life!
How does the graff here in Puerto Rico differ from what you’ve seen elsewhere?
Our styles are more distinct and more varied than most of what I see elsewhere.
Certainly more so than we see back in NYC. How has the graff scene in Puerto Rico changed since you began getting up over 10 years ago?
Back then, most of the writers came from the lower class. That’s not the case anymore. The scene has also been going in cycles. It was huge at the beginning of the century. We hit a low in 2005, and in 2010 it began, once again, to boom.
Any favorite artists?
There are many. Among them: Os Gemeos, the Mac from Germany, Celso here in Puerto Rico…
How do you feel about graff artists exhibiting their work in galleries?
I respect both the artists who promote themselves and the galleries who support them.
How do you feel about the role of the internet in all of this?
It’s definitely been a positive force. I remember when all we had were magazines and photos of our pieces that we mailed back and forth. The internet is a much easier and speedier way for us to share our work.
What do you see as the future of graffiti and street art here in the Caribbean?
You’re here for our first international street art festival that has brought some of the world’s most renowned street artists — including Roa, Ever, Sego and Jaz — to Puerto Rico. This is just the beginning. And in a few weeks, we have a major graffiti jam happening in the Dominican Republic. It just keeps on getting bigger — both here and across the globe.
Photos by Lenny Collado, Dani Mozeson & Lois Stavsky
During our brief visit to Puerto Rico, we had the chance to view Jaz — one of our favorite artists — at work and discover the enchanting aesthetics of Mexican artist Eyel and local artists Pun18 and Tony Rodriguez, Josue Oquendo, Aslan Uno, and Esteban Ruiz of the Puerto Rican arts collective, Hello Again. Here are some more images:
Photo credits: Jaz and Hello Again by Lois Stavsky; Eyel by Dani Mozeson; Pun18 in progress by Lenny Collado and close-up courtesy of the artist
As the walls continue to speak in the Santurce district of San Juan, Puerto Rico, they have begun to attract increasing attention and admiration from passersby. We even noticed a group of students speaking with Mexican artist, Neuzz. Here are a few images of works in progress by: Sego, also from Mexico, Rimx & the Puerto Rican El Coro collective, Ever from Argentina, and Neuzz from the Carribean’s first international urban arts festival:
The walls are talking in Puerto Rico, as over a dozen first-rate artists are busy gracing the walls of the Santurce district of San Juan. Organized by local artists Celso Gonzalez and Alexis Diaz of La Pandilla, along with Emil Medina of Buena Vibra, “Los Muros Hablan” marks the Carribean’s largest urban arts festival. Not only are we seeing some of our favorite artists at work, but we are also meeting many whose works is new to us. Here are just a few images we took today — many more to come:
Sponsored by Coor Light, “Los Muros Hablan” continues through the 14th.
Photos of Roa by Lois Stavsky; photo of Aryz by Dani Mozeson and of Bik-Ismo by Lenny Collado