When Joana called me saying Elsa Poderosa was painting a mural in the city where I live, she almost had no time to finish questioning “Do you want to go there and ask her what is it all about?”. Before she knew it I was saying “Of course!”.
By the way, if you don’t know Elsa’s incredible work, you have to go check it NOW!
So, one day I went there and Elsa told me everything about this amazing project in Amadora (a city in the outskirts of Lisbon), called “Conversas na Rua” which promotes urban art and new artists inviting them to paint public buildings or spaces. 2016 marks the second year this project takes place and it’s part of the celebrations of the city’s birthday. This is also the second year Elsa is invited to participate with Ana Dias. Both artists aren’t totally connected with urban art (as Elsa is an illustrator and Ana works with visual arts) but that’s probably why they were chosen again, right? Last year the two artists painted the backwall of Casa Roque Gameiro.
So this year Elsa and her “partner in painting-murals-crime” were invited again and this time they were given the front road of the House – a tunnel that leads visitors to it. They decided that each one would paint a wall and they immediatly drew some connecting dots: the geometry of the House, the tiles and its most common colours, and also flowers because there’s a garden right next to the tunnel and just before people go inside.
I didn’t leave the place before checking Elsa’s last year’s mural and when I was looking at it, that was when it hit me: I have been seeing paintings like those a lot in my city for the past year… In fact, they were all over it! This “Conversas na Rua” project that I thought I was just discovering was in fact the one that was responsible for two of the most beautiful murals I had ever seen: Carlos Paredes and Amalia (two very known Portuguese music artists that passed away) in two buildings near a metro station.
I want you to understand this: many years ago, Amadora’s people didn’t have a wide range of options when it comes to arts & culture and when those options appeared, most people couldn’t afford it, which eventually led to a lack of interest. I’m not talking about me or even most of my friends from that time – I’m talking about people who fled their countries to try to live a less poorer life, women who at that time had a 2 or 3 hours journey to work as housekeepers in Lisbon, men who were not aware for the importance of educating their children through arts. Nowadays people in charge of my city have made an effort to bring art much closer to its inhabitants, whether its music, theatre, workshop for all ages… or simply a painting on a wall! Most things promoted by the city are free or really cheap and affordable.
I myself have been promoting art in Amadora for quite some time now (something like more than 10 years!), but I’ve always felt that people are much more aware for it in big cities (even if they live in the suburbs). There may be tons of reasons for that to happen, but my point is: cities around the big ones (whether we’re talking about Lisbon, Porto or Coimbra, in Portugal’s case) are making an honorable effort to bring art to everyone. And not just some art – really good artists with lots of talent!
Those thoughts made me realize that even with me being a city’s artist, I did not stop a second to search for the origin of those murals that amazed me so much every time I drove near them. So I left Elsa full hands on her piece of art and said goodbye. On my way home I stopped near every mural I passed by and really took the time to appreciate them.