Art in a Traffic Jam

Traffic in San Salvador is insane.  Too many people coming into the city.  Too many people going out from the city.  We are almost always late, no matter how much extra time we estimate we will need.

There are many things you can do while sitting in traffic.  Putting on make-up:  yes, even in the back of a pick-up truck.  Purchasing bananas, quesadilla, or trash bags:  yes, if you know what corner features what items.  You can buy a paper.  Heck, you can read the paper.  You can also read the billboards:  there are many new, flashy, bright electronic billboards that scroll through a dozen advertisements from cheap flights to the US, to the best paint, to the political candidates of your choice.  You can usually get through the whole batch of ads two or three times before the traffic moves.

And then there is art.  Many of San Salvador's traffic circles and plazas feature art installations:  statues, fountains, modern sculptures and beautiful plantings.  Murals are everywhere!  Columns supporting bridges are wrapped in murals.  Light poles are decorated with the national bird or bright flowers.  And every stretch of wall seems to call out to the Salvadorans for paint.  In the past, walls were boldly festooned with the colors of the major political parties (often morphing from one color scheme to another over night), but that practice has been outlawed.  Still, from gang tags to street art to geometric patterns to Mayan deities to bucolic scenes...wall art is everywhere.

A few months ago, as traffic slowed to a halt on 59th Avenue South, we noticed artists at work.  They had begun sketching out a sizable mural featuring children at play and Salvadoran national symbols.  Painted lettering at the top indicates that the mural is being created with the help of a grant from USAID.  Now, before you ponder whether or not this is a good use of US funds, I will heartily say YES IT IS.  Beautiful art can transform a neighborhood, and the creation of art is uniting, peaceful and therapeutic.  Art is also respected.  Beautiful works are rarely defaced with tags or graffiti. 

The 59th Avenue mural is not yet complete, and photos are tricky to capture given all that traffic, yet, I think you will be able to see that this mural is lively, positive and beautiful.

The first panels to be completed

Painting and sketching in progress

Project Solutions USAID (notice the ES is both the plural on solution
and stands for El Salvador  - clever!)  Check out Cipitio and the torogoz.


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