Nearing the end of my Chilean adventure, I wanted to take advantage of the culture that is so abundant here, particularly through art. As aforementioned in some of my earlier posts, art––particularly graffiti and other murals––cover the walls and buildings of Valparaíso. Walking through famous hills such as Cerro Concepción throughout the city has shown to be the most effective means of viewing this art and also doubles as a great workout. The creativity of these arts is palpable, as images depicting any scene imaginable line the buildings through Cerro Concepción and the other cerros, or hills, of the city. This rich artwork attracts people all over the world, especially those who love art.
In order to maximize my exposure to the art here, my friend and I decided to stop in nearly every shop we saw. Almost all of the businesses in Cerro Concepción are either restaurants or show off some manifestation of art, whether in the form of painting or sculpture, art or jewelry––Valpo has it all. I ended up buying a really cool sweatshirt from a local artist that depicts an ascensor running throughout the city. For those unfamiliar, an ascensor, or elevator in English, is characteristic of Valparaíso and serves as somewhat of a mini-gondola to transport people through the hills. Ascensores are widely depicted in Chilean art, so I feel lucky to have found a piece of art reflective of the culture that I can take with me wherever I go.
I also really enjoyed visiting these shops because I got to practice my Spanish skills with the artists/owners of the shops. They shared the interesting stories behind the art and what has led them to Valparaíso. It was very cool to see how many people have been attracted to the city because of its art scene, demonstrating the global impact of the work here. In fact, my friend and I visited a screen-printing shop hidden away in a small street in the hills. When we entered through the doors of her shop, we initially greeted and spoke to her in Spanish. However, once she heard her accents, she immediately said “What’s up, guys?” in perfect English. After talking to her, we learned that she is originally from Oregon and, after studying in Peru and traveling the world, moved to Valparaíso because of the opportunities surrounding art here. She has lived here for two years and seemed to love it. It was through this interaction that I truly saw the significance of the art here; Valparaíso truly is a magnet for artists and art-lovers alike!