Graffiti artists help decorate for Christmas
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
The huge gift boxes at the base of the Christmas tree in the Jardín were spray-painted by local graffiti artists, who used their skills to decorate these “presents” rather than the façades of buildings.
On December 6, downtown San Miguel was filled with light and color when thousands of lights were turned on in the historic center and a giant Christmas tree made by local artisans was set up. The base of the Christmas tree is decorated with huge boxes designed by local graffiti artists. At the soccer court of the Municipal DIF, the graffiti masters worked full-force to finish the decorations so they would be done on time. While working, they took a break and talked to Atención about the their paintings.
The artists commented that they prefer to create legal graffiti. Some of them have been in jail for vandalism, and now they are helping other children and young people improve their painting techniques through different workshops.
Francisco Vega started doing graffiti in 2002. About the decoration of the giant gift boxes he said, “I could express my feelings, thoughts and ideas with a Christmas decoration. My decorated box has on one side a Christmas tree, which represents for me the family union and the treasured moments that we will remember forever. On another side, I painted a piñata; even though it has its obvious meaning, for me it represents the joy and happiness of when I was a child happily collecting the fallen candies from the piñata. The box also has a simple nativity scene that represents love, and finally I painted the Parroquia, which represents the faith of an entire city.”
Jesús Valenzuela is a 23-year-old sanmiguelense who lives in Centro and started painting graffiti on façades when he was a teenager. He explained that his box represents a gift that has been opened from behind in order to steal the caramels within, and for that reason there is a Christmas duck trying to protect it and scare away those who want to approach the box. The box also is decorated with two painted cookies. Currently Valenzuela participates in a program called Rescate de Espacios Públicos (Recovering Public Spaces) run by the Social Development Department. Through this program, Jesús teaches children and teenagers how to improve their techniques and trains them to paint legal graffiti through different government programs. He has 20 students in his group.
Marco David Rico Reyes lives in el Malanquín. He painted a Christmas penguin leaving its house. He said he has been involved with graffiti since he was a child and qualified his work as “well-done art.” In his neighborhood, he owns a small workshop where he paints in oils and watercolors. In the same space, he teaches children from el Malanquín the art of graffiti and helps them avoid engaging in acts of vandalism and going to jail. On the boxes Méndez painted a sleigh loaded with gifts that appears to be in motion.