Sojourn – Xalapa Street Art – Mexico

Right now, travelling through Eastern Europe, Mexico and Central America seems a world away – with so much heavy travel, I’ve been a bit behind on my travel blogs, but I have some downtime here in Lithuania so I’m going to try and do a bit of catch up.

After a couple of days (and food poisoning) in Mexico City (DF) I headed down to the city of Xalapa in Mexico to check out some street art. Xalapa (or Jalapa as its also known) isn’t really hugely on the "tourist route", and every time I told someone at the hostel I was heading down to Xalapa they’d say "where?" – but it does have one thing that makes it pretty important – it is one of the main University towns in Mexico. Therefore, there are a lot of students in the city – which makes Xalapa street art central!

When I arrived in Xalapa, I was greeted by local artist Obake – who graciously offered to show me around the city to spot the sites.

After a good dose of Mexican coffee, we started wandering the streets of Xalapa, spotting all kinds of cool work around the place. Obake showed me some of her favourite spots, and some of the work that she’d put up.

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We then wandered down to a small store in the backstreets to meet a good friend of Obake, Mister Trauma. This shop, Trauma Studios (located at Belisario Domínguez 55)  is a must-see if you are visiting Xalapa. Stickers, magazine, and artwork adorn the walls, and its great to see such an independent shop getting work out there and promoting the local artists.

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Communicating with my absolutely shitty non-existent Spanish, Mister then asked if I wanted to go out and have a quick paint – well, I’m always up for a paint, and though completely unprepared we headed off to find a cab to head to the outskirts of the city and a wall that had out there. I wasn’t entirely sure at the time what the fuck was happening – you know, spontaneously jumping into a cab with complete strangers to go to the outskirts of a town in Veracruz, Mexico – but it was fkn cool fun.

A couple of Mister and Obakes friends showed up at the wall, and as late as it was and with the sun setting, we painted until late into the night – sipping on beautiful bottles of what was to become my favourite Mexican beer – Leon!

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The next day, I took a walk through the central part of Xalapa, and got a bunch more shots. Walking up the main "market alleyway" – Callejón del Diamante (Diamond Alley). Sure, theres a lot of tourist shit up there, but I also spotted a bunch of independent artists selling artwork right on the street – one in particular grabbed my attention – ESV Mounstrotopia.

Not far up from where he was selling his art, I found another really cool shop that seemed to specialise in pushy toys of small monsters and the like – Marabunta Tienda, it was really pretty cool, and worth checking out for its range of independent toys and design laden stuff.

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Later that night, we went off to grab a few beers and take a look around the city by night – lead in tow by Obake we did a good bit of paintspotting.

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As I was planning on painting before leaving Xalapa, one question I had was "Where do I buy spraypaint in Xalapa?" – and Obake kindly advised me that there was a store up the top of Callejón del Diamante where I could get some. Though I didn’t see a name on it, it was to the right as you reached the top of the alley, in the corner – the front of the shop is actually filled with … well, Halloween shit and Hot Topic-esque bits and pieces, but behind all of that, on the counter, was a good deal of paint to be had. The only two brands I saw there were the usual Mexican brands – Arte Xpress and 360.

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The next day, Obake and I headed down to where we were going to paint for the day – El Cafe De Nadie. I’d spotted this place a day before, with a huge and amazing Quetzalcoatl mural on the side of it. This was one of my favourite spots in Xalapa, a really cool cafe and place to hang out – great brownies!

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Struggling a bit using the high pressure 360 paint (I haven’t used high pressure paint since my much younger bombing days) we knocked it all out and I was pretty happy with the whole thing – Obakes piece was, as always, very fkn cool.

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After finishing up late in the evening, it was time to go and catch an overnight bus down to the Yucatan – stinking of paint and sweat, and more than a little chromed out, I made the bus in time and promptly passed out on the journey to my next destination …

Xalapa was my first real introduction to the street art scene in Mexico, and it was a fantastic stay. The artists in Xalapa are, as always, stuggling to get their work up in the face of government adversity, but they are really making a scene of it all. I wouldn’t be surprised if Xalapa turned into one of the real street art capitals of Mexico over the next few years, there’s certainly enough talent in the city to make it so. Big thanks to all the crew, especially Obake and Mister Trauma, for helping me out and showing me around whilst I was there.

Check out a whole bunch more photos below from my visit to Xalapa!

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For the past ten years, Fletcher Andersen (Facter) has cut his teeth writing for a variety of street press and music magazines. Drawing on his years of writing experience, and as an artist himself, Facter founded Invurt with the aim of promoting artistic events, and the established and emerging Australasian urban, street, illustrative, underground and low brow artists that partake in them. Follow him on Instagram @facter, or go like his facebook page, and check out his website, Irikanji.

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