A pandemic of new murals all over San Miguel de Allende, many with iconic images from pop culture and high art, carry a simple message: Put on a mask.
If Frida, Vincent van Gogh, Vermeer’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” Klimt’s stylish “Lady in Gold,” and da Vinci’s mysterious “Mona Lisa” and her Botero-esque alter-ego can put on masks — and look fabulous — so can we.
That’s the hope, anyway, of the city’s Directorate for Culture and Tradition which has sponsored the creation of the 10 murals.
Besides retaining some of the region’s finest muralists and providing them employment, the Directorate also engaged a dozen aspiring young artists, between ages 14 and 25, to apprentice with the masters.
Murals are notoriously short-lived. The apprenticeships will ensure the artistry lives on.
While some of the murals are far-removed from the city center, they make for a wonderful excuse to walk about in the city, probably into neighborhoods you barely knew existed.
Understand, collecting all 10 murals in a single day is a feat best left to the very young and most physically fit. But why not break them up into two or three comfortable walks.
Or think about driving. You can see all 10 murals and improve your urban driving skills in one fell swoop.
Here then, is a brief introduction to each mural with maps pinpointing each location. You can click on the map for a larger version and also get specific directions from your own location.
I’ll leave the hunting-and-gathering up to you.
MURAL #1 — VAN GOGH and MURAL # 2 — MONA LISA
Location: Purisima #39, Colonia Cuevitas.
Artist: Persak (Daniel Carrillo)
Apprentices: Edwin (Bl), José Jesús (Bif), Jesús Baeza, Yalit (Prv)
Notes: Van Gogh and Mona Lisa are side-by-side, on a white brick wall just off Canal (or Extension) and not far from the bus terminal. Both were executed by the talented Pesak, a name attached to many stunning murals around San Miguel.
I started here because these are the two most stunning examples of the public service art — easily recognizable icons wearing masks! It is also a great place to start your tour because it is like the bottom of a necklace. You can loop up from here in two directions.
MURAL #3 — FRIDA KAHLO
Location: Calle 28 de Abril #16, Colonia San Antonio. (One block south of Orizaba)
Artist: Persak (Daniel Carrillo).
Apprentices: Aaron (Cka), Adrián, Néstor (Nekzo).
Notes: See? Persak again. This time he tackles Mexico’s most prominent and prevalent icons but, somehow, turning Frida into a public service message just seems to work. Although, I’m sure her masks would have carried her own image on them …
MURAL #4 MUSICA
Location: Calle Sterling Dickinson, between Calle Portrero and Casa Virreyes.
Artist: Ekzaone (Daniel Illezcas)
Apprentice: Daniela (Mckill)
Notes: There is so much going on here. Street musicians, street life, street food, fireworks. The calaka holding the tequila bottle and shot glass clearly enjoyed life. All the color flows from the shot of tequila — and maybe that is a metaphor for wearing a face mask? I don’t know.
At least, the lady walking by has one on.
The “space alien” to the right salutes the slogan “no tengas miedo abre tu mente” — don’t be afraid to open your mind.
Ekzaone owns this whole block. His stunning graphic history of Mexico stretches all the way up to the Ancha and it is as profound as it is beautiful.
MURAL #5 GUSTAV KLIMT’S “THE LADY IN GOLD”
Location: Avenida 5 de Mayo #2, Colonia Allende (across from Escuela Preparatoria El Pipila)
Artist: Juice (Jesús Valenzuela)
Apprentices: Adrián, Néstor (Nekso)
Notes: Klimt painted this portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer between 1903-07. If you could look under her mask, you would see lips as full and beguiling as her eyes. This was the last painting in Klimt’s “Golden Phase,” in which gold leaf and gold paint dominated his art.
MURAL # 6 MONA LISA BOTERO
Location: Calle Cienfuegos, Colonia Ignacio Ramirez
Artist: (HUSNEK) Carlos Gonzalez
Apprentices: Pablo Molina, Alma Roja, Carlos Villegas, Ian Barbosa, and Brayan Aguilar.
Notes: This mural is on a wall right behind the Tuesday Market site, part of Estadio de Football Capi Correa. You can’t miss it! It is one of three in Colonia Ignacio Ramirez, too.
There is no mistaking a painting or sculpture from the Colombian artist Fernando Botero Angulo. His balloon-like bodies even have a name, “Boterismo.” Gonzalez’s hommage is dead-on. And the full, rounded face is perfect for wearing a mask. I think the 88-year-old artist would be very pleased.
MURAL #7 VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE (EN PROCESO), PRIMER MURAL DE PRÁCTICA AMATEUR
Location: Calle 20 de Noviembre #21, Fracc. El Deportivo, Colonia Ignacio Ramirez.
Artist: Sabotaje Espectro Aaron
Notes: This is the first opportunity for the apprentices to stretch their creativity with a wall of their own. The location is on the opposite side of the football stadium and fields from the Mona Lisa Botero. It is still a work in progress,
MURAL #8 LA FLOR DEL BAJIO (The Flower of Bajio)
Location: 1 de Mayo #62, Colonia Ignacio Ramirez
Artist: Juice (Jesús Valenzuela)
Notes: This is the only mural you will find with a cloth mask attached to the figure. That is because this mural will remain up long after the Covid pandemic passes. Amen to that!
The woman is gorgeous and I’m sure that there is a wonderful story to accompany this image. (Share it with me if you know!)
Easy to find: Opposite the General Hospital at the roundabout. She brightens the intersection like no other.
MURAL # 9 LA CHICA DE LA PERLA (The Girl with a Pearl Earring)
Location: Privada de San Alejandro #11B, Colonia Bellavista.
Artist: Boomzer (Omar Alejandro Cortes).
Apprentices: Daniela Cruz, Allegra Cepeda, Lionel Ramirez, Sergio Aron, and Fernanda Cortes.
Notes: The original “Girl With A Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer is dated around 1665 has been deemed the “most-beautiful painting in the Netherlands” by the Dutch.
And you know what? She doesn’t lose a thing with her mask on. It is all in the eyes and the earring!
The mural is located up in Colonia San Luis Rey, not far from the Ventana golf course.
MURAL #10 EL TRIUNFO DE LA SOCIEDAD Y EL TRABAJO SOBRE UNA PANDEMIA (The Triumph of Society and Work over a Pandemic)
Location: Calle Tatanacho #9B, esquina con Cri Cri, Colonia Guadalupe (Corredor de Murales).
Artist: Juice (Jesús Valenzuela)
Apprentices: Aaron, Leonel, David, and Adrián
Notes: The word “epic” comes to mind — and not just because of the mural’s size (about 6 by 7 meters). As the title suggests, the artist took on a big message. Workers, first responders, medical professionals, artists all working together to knock down the killer virus.
There is a lot going on here and it is worth taking some time to appreciate the many directions from which this message can reach you.
The cross street with Tatanacho is Cri-Cri, in the area known as the Corridor of Murals. There are so many spectacular murals in the Guadalupe neighborhood, you could spend days walking around and taking them all in.
Special thanks to Paulina Cadena, director of San Miguel’s Directorate of Culture and Traditions for all her assistance.