Can stories be told on walls? Can a wall speak, scream, move us with what it says? Of course! And proof of that is what hundreds of Yucatecan hands (guided by as many brains and hearts) express regularly in Mérida’s walls through spray paint and brushes loaded with infinite colors. Today, we take you on a stroll to appreciate the walls where graffiti expresses feelings and emotions, and speaks of our culture, history, and regionalism as a means of urban art; a journey of hearts beating strong.
If there is one thing that sets the Yucatecan graffiti artists apart, it is the constant effort to share what their culture means for them. They’re proud of their land, their history, and their present; of course, they could never miss a chance to show it on the walls of Mérida and other Yucatecan municipalities.
We spoke with Datoer, a graffiti artist who has been making art on walls for almost two decades. “In Yucatán, we experience the art of graffiti as a challenge and a means of self-improvement, pouring all our hearts and our love into what we do,” he says.
He’s one of the pioneers in unleashing regional iconography on walls, telling stories of mestizas, the Yucatecan countryside, nature, unforgettable local artists, and the symbols of the Maya culture…always with a very personal touch that’s very urban too.
“Each with their own style, we all like to address traditional Yucatecan themes in our works and, in one way or another, I feel that we all paint thinking about travelers, about those who visit us. In this way, we try to show them what and who we are in Yucatán,” he shares.
Datoer’s career had a turning point that happened when COVID-19 arrived: “In the middle of the pandemic I felt the need to express what people could not say because of the confinement and the suffering due to the loss of loved ones. So I painted walls to honor all the health workers who helped us move forward. They were titans throughout all of this experience we had to endure,” the artist said.
As it happens with hip hop (a form of artistic expression which, by the way, is closely associated with graffiti all around the world) created in Yucatán, the works of Yucatecan graffiti artists are a trip to experience and enjoy the state. Their palettes, brimming with very Yucatecan colors, express the feeling of being “proudly Yucatecan”: proud of our roots, our present, and the future that’s yet to come. Here we share some iconic walls made by different artists that you’ll find in Mérida and undoubtedly enjoy:
- Surrounding the walls of the Agustín O’Horán Hospital, you’ll find one of the largest homages to health workers, heroes in this pandemic.
- Ishtabai bar (Calle 58 x 47, Centro) and Paseo 60 (Calle 60 x Avenida Colón) both feature murals by Datoer.
- The walls at restaurant-bar Bonampak (Calle 60 x 49) were all painted by talented graffiti artists – guided by rapper and artist Zar Cryptor – who decorated the spaces with regional themes, living nature, culture, and Mexican artists and wrestlers, etc.
- In Xcalachén, a neighborhood in the south of Mérida (and a perfect place to eat Chicharra), the walls also tell stories of Yucatán with our artists’ urban touch.
- Near the Barrio de Santa Rosa parrish, also on Mérida’s south side, you’ll find some other walls that speak.
- “EnamoraMérida” is another project that paints house walls with typical local sayings; you’ll find them in many places in the city, such as Calle 47 x Avenida Reforma.
- On Calle 65 x 74, Centro, you’ll see a tribute to two Yucatecan theater icons: Héctor Herrera “Cholo,” and Wilbert Herrera, by the hands and heart of graffiti artist Ache.
Editorial by Cecilia García Olivieri
Writer and reporter
Photography by Cecilia García Olivieri for use in Yucatán Today.
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