Things That Matter

How the Power of Art is Being Used to Fight Crime in Mexico

Mural Palmitas
Germen Crew

Art can be a very powerful thing. Just ask the residents of Palmitas in Pachuca, Mexico.

Palmitas is a small neighborhood with a big crime problem.

Palmitas Google Maps

Pachuca’s government has attempted to decrease violent crime in several ways.

Enter bad-ass street artists, Germen Crew.

Germen Crew

First, they painted the neighborhood white.

painting-house-white

This is what it looked like when they were done.

palmitas-white Palmitas mural Palmitas mural Pachuca

One word.

Awesome Supernatural

Now, Palmitas is home to the largest mural of its kind in Mexico.

The neighborhood’s new paint job is already being recognized around the world.

Want to see more? Here’s a video of German Crew working on the Palmitas mural.

Credit: Yoan Beltrán / YouTube

Do you think street murals can help rehab the image of a neighborhood? mitú wants to know. Let us know in the comments below!

Meet Frederico Vigil, The Creator Of The Largest Concave Fresco in North America – Mundos De Mestizaje

Culture

Meet Frederico Vigil, The Creator Of The Largest Concave Fresco in North America – Mundos De Mestizaje

Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

When visiting the National Hispanic Cultural Center campus in Albuquerque, New Mexico, it’s easy to write-off the upside-down, bucket shape form rising from the ground. It stands alone with no distinguishing marks. There are no large crowds to hint at the remarkable secret hidden inside. Visitors will know they are in the right place when the gray asphalt and concrete beneath their feet morph into red—matching the building’s exterior.

Two, towering wood doors mark the entry into the nondescript building.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

When the doors swing open, it’s impossible to avoid looking up because the vibrant colors of the ceiling act as a magnet, drawing eyes upwards. Step into the 45-foot dome-shaped structure to get a better look, and there, in the small Southwest town of less than 1 million, the largest fresco painting in North America wraps around the ceiling.

El Torreón is the name of the structure which houses Mundos de Mestizaje.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

The larger-than-the-Sistine-Chapel fresco made by Frederico Vigil. It took the Santa Fe native almost three years to have it approved and 10 years to complete it. The aerial artwork depicts thousands of years of Hispanic and pre-Hispanic history. Depending on your cultural background, some iconography is easy to spot and place in history. If you’re Mexican, La Virgen de Guadalupe, a portrait of the beloved civil rights leader Benito Juárez and the eagle, serpent, and nopal from Mexico’s coat of arms will stand out. But walk around the room, or sit in one of the lounging chairs that allow visitors to tip back and view the work at 180 degrees, and soon you’ll realize there are hidden figures among the more popular markers of Mexican and Indigenous identity.

“I’m a mixed man with many different bloodlines,” Vigil says on a phone call. “I’m mestizo. I wanted to show the history of what that means.”

For the project, Vigil consulted with seven scholars on Mesoamerican and Spanish historical culture in order to create an accurate depiction of the past.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

He says that just by looking at the Iberian Peninsula, there’s a mix of Romans, Celts, Muslims, and Phoenicians which is all tied into Spanish identity. Then, with the Americas, there’s Maya, Aztec and Toltec. The history of these lines iS not linear. They overlap, intertwine and blend together in a dizzying ride that Vigil worked to bring to life in Mundos de Mestizaje. 

The purpose is to show the viewer how interconnected and far-reaching culture is. Islamic philosopher Ibn Rushd is depicted sitting next to Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, a Medieval Torah scholar, and physician. Chacmool, the pre-Columbian sculpture found throughout Mesoamerica shares space with George Washington and an African slave. 

“There are no purebloods, we are all mixed—or perhaps the only people who can say they are of pure blood are the Amazons or indigenous tribes that have lived in isolation,” Vigil says. “When people begin to study the past, they realize we, as a society, are not genetically one thing.”

Vigil learned the art of fresco painting from Lucienne Bloch and Stephen Pope Dimitroff. The couple might not be household names outside of the art community, but their bosses were. Bloch and Dimitroff were assistants to the world-renowned Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. 

Vigil connected with the couple thanks to the Santa Fe Council for The Arts.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

The organization reached out to Vigil to gauge his interest in a scholarship learning from the pair. Now in their 70s, the two aging artists were making strides to ensure their knowledge was passed down to a new generation of creators. Art lessons were accompanied by tales of the past that included Kahlo, Rivera, and friends such as Leon Trotsky. There, he learned the complicated and time-consuming process of fresco painting.

A surface is rough plastered with a mix of lime, sand, and cement. On average, a layer takes 10-12 hours to dry. A painter can go to work an hour into the drying process and usually has between seven to nine hours of time to complete their design. The art then needs 7-10 days between coats. If the painter messes up, they have to scrape off the layers and begin again.

“I’m a procrastinator but when the wall is wet, you have to paint,” says Vigil. “Each painting is a new experience. It doesn’t get old.”

Vigil is currently working on a new 2,500-plus square foot monumental fresco at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

His new work tells the tale of New Mexico’s history as the oldest state in the U.S. to produce wine. He says the piece could take four to six years to complete. He’s currently in his second year.

The hours for the Torreón (where the fresco is housed) are Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5 p.m., plus it is open by appointment, which can be scheduled with Juanita Ramírez at Juanita.ramirez@state.nm.us or 505-383-4774. The NHCC presents concerts in the Torreón in partnership with the Pimentel & Sons Guitar Makers. The Torreón is available for rentals under certain circumstances and with some restrictions. 

READ: 20 Bizarre Nail Art Ideas That I Just Will Never Understand

Some People Are Blaming The Actions Of The Women At Mexico City’s March For The Attack On A Reporter

Things That Matter

Some People Are Blaming The Actions Of The Women At Mexico City’s March For The Attack On A Reporter

@adn40 / Twitter

Hundreds of women in Mexico took to the streets to demand justice after two teenage girls reported being raped by police officers. The protests filled Mexico City and women were not going to silent as they demanded justice. One reporter covering the protest was attacked on camera and the blame game is in full force as people try to find out who started it.

ADN40 reporter Juan Manuel Jiménez was covering the anti-rape protest in Mexico City when he was attacked by a random man.

Credit: @adn40 / Twitter

The video shows Jiménez reporting from the protest as protest participants threw glitter and other items at the reporter. The entire time, Jiménez mentioned that the women were angry at the injustice women face against Mexican police. When he mentioned going to another location to continue his reporting, that’s when a man walked behind in and sucker-punched him.

The man had spent time standing next to the reporter and was caught on camera, despite him trying to hide his face later.

Credit: @v_altamirano / Twitter

“This idiot el the coward,” tweeted @v_altamirano. “@juanmapregunta I hope they find him @SSP_CDMA @PGFJD_CDMX have his FIRST and LAST name.”

The man was seen standing near the reporter for some time as Jiménez was talking to the camera. Then, he retreated into the crowd and started talking to two people that were marching. After speaking with the two people, the attacker made his way back to the reporter and attacked him from behind.

The footage has angered people who are tired of the violence in Mexico and see the attack as lessening the protest.

Credit: dianamoon0506 / Twitter

“I am a mother, sister, and daughter and I do not approve this display, NO TO VIOLENCE,” tweeted @dianamoon0506. “The women started the violence. We will never advance humanity like this. All of my support to @juanmapregunta.”

Some women said the feminists marching defended the reporter and that it was a random man who attacked Jiménez.

Credit: @mickeydobbss / Twitter

After Jiménez was knocked to the ground, the video shows women cornering the attacker and attempting to detain the man. The man pushed the women off and ran into the crowd to get away from those pursuing him.

A lot of people are blaming the women who first started to attack Jiménez for creating the atmosphere.

Credit: @Omar_ca_P / Twitter

“They didn’t defend anyone, those who did ‘attack’ the aggressor and scream ‘it was him’ because they knew that this kind of thing damages their image and they want to distance themselves from blame,” tweeted @Omar_ca_P. “They too attacked the reporter, not with punches but they attacked.”

Another video posted showed some of the protesters stopping to care for Jiménez after he was knocked to the ground.

The people caring for Jiménez helped him wake up and are shown in the video caring for him. This all happened after he was knocked to the ground and the attacker ran away.

You can watch the full video below.

What do you think about the attack and the blame game happening with the march?

READ: Hundreds Protest After Teen Girls Accuse Mexico City Police of Rape

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