Rick Powell, Founder of the San Telmo Art Walk
What are the short-term goals for Juanele AR?
We would like to raise the profile of the San Telmo Art Walk and make sure it’s on every traveler’s short list of things to do in Buenos Aires. We’ll also continue to support artists here in whatever way we can.
We’ve just started an exciting project with Neurorama, a local artistic duo who we’ve chosen to be our artists-in-residence for the next three months. They’ll be developing a satirical, political street-sculpture intervention in multiple spots throughout the city that we’re determined will be high-profile.
We’ll continue to provide grants to street artists to paint. Besides our own headquarters, which is painted by 13 different artists, we’ve sponsored three murals on the streets of Buenos Aires so far with Corona, Poeta, and Roma.
As host to Max’s Supper Club, a closed door restaurant conceived by Dutch expat and cook Max Paarlberg, we hope to expose yet another group of folks to Argentine art and artists. In addition to sharing our cool-ass street-art painted space, each dinner is also an exhibition, usually with the artist in attendance.
Finally, we’d like to become more bilingual and publish more in castellano. Finding Argentine bloggers has proven difficult, however. It’s not a concept that’s well-understood here.
What are the long-term goals?
We’d like to bring international artists here to paint in the street, collaborate with locals and get to know a great, sometimes overlooked city. Come to Buenos Aires and paint!
I’d like to launch a blogging network that unites all of Argentina’s far-flung bloggers and blogging artists. We’ll call it Red Juanele.
We’d like to fund as many emerging artists and street artists as we can, particularly supporting projects that are multinational or multilingual and focus on collaboration.
How do you see what you’re doing as influencing and impacting the city and its artists?
At this point, I really think it’s up to someone else to assess what our impact is since we’re still a quite young organization. It’s difficult for me to see right now. I feel like our job is to serve the artists’ community here in ways that perhaps they hadn’t thought of before, in ways that only a outside eye can see.
It’s satisfying, therefore, that our most loyal readers are Argentine artists and gallery owners and the vast majority of them tell us they’re thrilled to see their work covered in English. Galleries love it because they finally have native-quality English to use for their promotional materials.
To the extent that we work on that awful word, “branding,” we want the Juanele AR brand to say: Open to anything, useful for everyone. Well, at least to those willing to work hard.
What is it about Buenos Aires that makes it such a great place to be an artist, particularly a street artist?
The Buenos Aires art scene is open in a way that I’ve never experienced before. Sure, there are insufferably stuffy pockets of establishment art but no one pays much attention to that scene at all. It’s simply dying a slow, slow death.
One of my favorite memories from one of our parties was of Cesár Menegazzo Cané, the curator and owner of Wussmann Gallery in San Telmo, running around our office with a big smile on his face taking photos of the murals on our walls. “This is great!” he said. Cesár runs one of the most beautiful, established and serious galleries in that neighborhood. He doesn’t show street art. Yet, he got it. And most in the scene here get it, too. We all believe in connections, not divisions; collaboration, not self-promotion.
Buenos Aires is probably the best city in the world to paint on the street — it’s not only not illegal, it’s encouraged — and despite the inflation, the corruption, the economy — still it’s a great time to be an artist in Argentina if you’re not trying to be a celebrity. Juanele just got lucky riding that wave.
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