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Interesting article about graffiti in Buenos Aires

West Hollywood...
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Interesting article about graffiti in Buenos Aires

I haven't been on the forum for a while due to travels and a hectic schedule, but I came across an interesting article in The Nation that I wanted to share. All major cities have graffiti, and its interesting on the author's take on BsAs's own 'style' or purposes driving the graffiti 'artists' and their messaging. For those who have been to the city, (and speak/read Spanish), this will be very familiar territory. For those doing their research for an upcoming trip, I think you'll get a perspective on the graffiti you'll encounter as you roam the city and the meanings behind the messages - I have hundreds of photos of various graffiti from the city from my travels there over the years and have always enjoyed (or have at least been curious about) the political discourse. And, you'll also get a bit of a history and sociology lesson to gain some perspective regarding the passion of the people and what keeps many of us coming back year after year.

thenation.com/blog/173477/photoessay-walls-s…

Oh, and kudos to Marnie - I see you are now a DE! Sweet. I'll be catching up on all of your current trip's postings later today. I'll be taking notes, as we're looking into another hiking excursion in SA this year, which will necessitate a swing into town - and you always explore and find new and interesting things to see and do.

I also see that the Saint is back in town. Nice. Looking forward to restaurant reviews and you're take on what's up with what around and about town. Hope you get a chance to eat at Tarquino's - we have similar tastes in restaurants, so it'll be interesting to get your take on what I consider to be among the best dining experiences I've ever had in the city.

And, finally, I see that Scarlett is moving back to the U.S. (That post caught my eye!) Say it ain't so! I sure hope you continue as a DE on this forum - even from a distance you can continue to give solid advise, the kind that makes this a favorite for newcomers and frequent visitors alike.

Cheers!

New Jersey
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1. Re: Interesting article about graffiti in Buenos Aires

Interesting reading. Thanks for sharing. I will be in BA in two weeks.

Gbow

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2. Re: Interesting article about graffiti in Buenos Aires

As a first-time visitor, I was surprised by the amount of visual pollution in this beautiful city, and especially in the subtle. Reminds me of New York in the '70s. Political graffiti is understandable, but the rest of it sends a clear message of its own - lawlessness.

San Diego...
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3. Re: Interesting article about graffiti in Buenos Aires

Elf Doug,

Good to see your post and you will laugh at this but my wife and I have reservations for Tarquinos tomorrow night!! And I promise we have had the reservation a few days now. Yes, we DO have the same taste in restaurants.

We just had an AMAZING dinner at Amici Miei Ristorante in San Telmo. Boy do those people know GREAT Italian..... I'll post a review tomorrow. Looking forward to trying Tarquinos tomorrow night! And we're headed to I Latina next week. Busy busy.

San Diego...
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4. Re: Interesting article about graffiti in Buenos Aires

Also, on the actual topic of graffiti, I WILL say that I find a LOT more of it my last few trips. Especially over in Palermo and Palermo Soho. For a while a few years ago it was improving with building owners even taking the time and expense to paint over it and people seeming to have a bit more pride.

But these last few trips and especially this one I've noticed a huge amount of graffiti. One of my good friends/clients owns a gorgeous house on Gorriti near Serrano and I went over for a dinner party the other night and it was so sad to see her beautiful house all spray painted. Definitely I'm seeing more of it now vs. before.

Inflation definitely is seen but the value of the blue market "informal" peso/dollar exchange rate MORE than makes up for the local inflation. It actually is feeling affordable again. It hasn't felt that way in a while but at 8.50 pesos to $1 US.... things become more affordable.

Italy
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5. Re: Interesting article about graffiti in Buenos Aires

We were surprised by the amount of graffiti and really thought it gave BA a very run down impression especially in some areas.

West Hollywood...
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6. Re: Interesting article about graffiti in Buenos Aires

Saint - have fun at Tarquino and looking forward to getting your impression. Will keep an eye out for I Latina, as I haven't eaten there. Absolutely, Amici Miei is fantastic.

I agree with you, Chrella and GNomad that the graffiti presents an eyesore for the city - we have a ton of graffiti here in Los Angeles, but it has 'evolved' over the years - from protest messages and willful defilement of upper class homes and businesses, to uninspired tagging, to something now that is much more artistic. In fact, there are many businesses who encourage graffiti artist to paint a side of a building or vacant walls in parking lots, etc. with elaborate wall-size murals. I think people realized it is better to give the artists an outlet instead of trying to paint over their work. Perhaps the city and local businesses in BsAs can adopt a similar strategy.

San Diego...
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7. Re: Interesting article about graffiti in Buenos Aires

Thanks Doug. I'll post a restaurant review and repost here as well. I've heard great things about it so I'm sure if it has your seal of approval it must be fabulous. I've agreed with every post/review you've made when it comes to food!

I really should post a separate thread on some of my observations since arriving. I will try once I get home. But in a nutshell I noticed these things below:

- I see MUCH less tourists in the restaurants and the street in general. Tourism is definitely down. Even on the plane ride down previously it was mostly full of tourists and I'd hear English all around me in the plane. Especially when I fly in First or Business class it was mostly businessmen coming down or Americans. This last trip in October 2012 I noticed that it was almost ALL Porteños speaking Spanish.

This time as well in the plane it was almost all Porteños coming back home.

- In the restaurants we go to usually we see tons of tourists but again in places like Sottovoce, Sucre, Don Julios, M, Amici Miei, and several others it's almost ALL Porteños dining out. While there is turmoil with the economy, those Porteños with US dollars are in an even better position because they seem to be exchanging for "blue dollars" and getting more of a bang for their buck.

- Before when I lived in Buenos Aires for 8 years I'd rarely see so many families buying Ralph Lauren Polo for young babies and kids. Our kids mostly wear Polo clothes as we love the quality and really wonderful that looks good and great quality. Yeah, it's more expensive but we find it worth it.

Well in the street, in the mall, on the many playgrounds we've taken our kids to it's FULL of kids wearing Ralph Lauren Polo and other name brand American expensive brands. I've never seen so many young kids wearing designer clothes before! But that just shows me just how many locals are flying to the USA and abroad on shopping sprees. EVEN with the 20% tax they are getting hit by the government, they are still coming out way ahead so they are shopping like crazy!

Speaking to many of my friends they are flying to Miami more and going shopping. Several are having kids and spending a small fortune on baby clothes and kids clothes. The quality of kids clothing absolutely is HORRIBLE in Argentina and horribly expensive. So this is VERY clear to see.

- For all the talk by my local friends of the increase in petty crime, I haven't felt it at all. In fact, never have I seen more locals using Iphones than now! I have been going to the Park with my kids and many many of the mothers are using iPhones. Most of my friends as well are using them. I've been using mine all over and no problems at all. If there is an increase in petty crime I can't see or feel it.

- Graffiti is way up all over the city, especially Palermo. So sad to see that. Some friends say their buildings don't even want to spend the money cleaning it as it will just get vandalized again. I mentioned above my friend's house. I own some properties in Palermo and they haven't been affected but they all have 24/7 security guards.

- Taxis are still all over the place but it feels like there are less available. I'm no expert on it but it feels like there are less taxis. Maybe with the inflation and the constant prices some taxistas are getting out of the business?? I'm not sure but it feels like there are less. Still MANY more than most cities around the world.

I'm still taking taxis like crazy. Taxi from Puerto Madero to Recoleta was 40 pesos. With the "informal" rates things seem affordable again. I got 8.5 to $1 US the other day. (Please don't PM me for a referral as I don't refer people that I don't know personally). It's not too difficult to get the informal rates asking around to your hotel or apartment rental company.

- Going to the grocery store is still painful. It's VERY slow full of lines and almost no efficiency.

We're having a wonderful time and the weather has been great!

WDC
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8. Re: Interesting article about graffiti in Buenos Aires

Thanks for the article, ElfDoug, I answered Saint's other post before seeing this. Adds to the perspective.

And of restaurants (not to highjack this thread) we had a dinner for 4 at 4141 on Honduras, do you know of it ? I would really like to have your take (even just what you've heard ?) on it - we were sorely disappointed, although some of the dishes were fabulous. The beef continues to be a challenge for restaurants - so inconsistent, even in the same place over a short period of time....it's those Feedlots, I think...but I'm not actually a rancher.

Nice, France
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9. Re: Interesting article about graffiti in Buenos Aires

ElfDoug,

How nice it is that you've droppped in! I've just read your review of your time in Amsterdam on that forum. It makes me want to follow your "barrio and restaurant" leads there as I've enjoyed doing several times in BA.

The tagging that spoils buildings around BA is so dense on some - the Ministry of Education building on Callao near Corrientes or Cordoba, for example - that it's hard to even know which architural style it is. I wondered how and why the graffiti had not been stopped for so long.

On the other hand, the urban/street artists' wall murals in BA are the most exciting and beautiful art I've seen this past decade. Street art is legal in BA as a form of free expression but only if the property owner first consented to or commissioned the art being done. Since it's legal to paint, BA artists have been able to work openly in daytime and so develop more complex art than urban artists elsewhere. They work individually or collaboratively on a project. They almost never paint over one another's work.

Saintba,

I'm glad you're enjoyijng your visit to BA.

How horrible that taggers ruined your friend's home with graffiti. Is there nothing that can be done?

My former Canadian city orders the property owner to have graffiti removed by a deadline or it bills the owner for its removing it. That seems so unfair. Have you heard of this being done in other cities where graffiti is illegal?

Also, since graffiti is legal in BA, I imagine that portenos aren't ordered to have it removed. But I don't know.

San Diego...
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10. Re: Interesting article about graffiti in Buenos Aires

Hey ElfDoug,

I just responded about Tarquino in my Trip Report so if you can respond there that's great so we can have all the responses in one thread. It was FABULOUS! We DO have the same taste in restaurants.

Sockhopper,

Nope, there isn't really anything that can be done when taggers vandalize buildings. It's just so sad because there are some gorgeous buildings/houses being damaged. It's fairly expensive to remove it. Previously things were getting better. Back when I was doing a lot of developments/renovations/land purchases in Palermo Soho/Hollywood things were improving. Buildings and owners and stores would clean up and it would stay away for a while. People seemed to have more pride in their community but now I'm told when people clean it up it just gets tagged again so it's almost not worth the expense/time/trouble removing it.

Although that house of my friend isn't mine. I have a lot of pride in it as she hired me to completely gut it and renovate it so I did all the work on it. It was a great passion of mine to get it to the point it is and just horrible to see a gorgeous house like that tagged.

Nope. I can't see the city ever forcing owners to clean it up on any timetable. I guess that's only fair as the government isn't expected to clean up their "mess" in any set timetable. LOL.