ArteBA vs. Street ArteBA

ArteBA is Latin America’s largest art fair, an extravagant (and extravagantly priced) five-day showcase of Latin American art held at the iconic La Rural exhibition center. My Juanele press pass got me into last night’s not-actually-from-Champagne-drenched preview party. It was, predictably, more a see-and-be-seen social affair than an opportunity to take in the tens of thousands of square meters of art on offer. Arriving late, I spent most of what little time I had in “Barrio Joven,” the “young” part of ArteBA where, Juanele editor Rick tells me, booths still rent for US$10,000 apiece. It was all pretty glamorous, but not really my scene. Juanele’s Axel Byrfors captures the opening night onda perfectly in this video shot mostly in Barrio Joven (I’d watch it full screen, and don’t worry, the Spanish ends around 0:50):

Street ArteBA is an almost-sort-of-official street art spinoff/open studio, through Saturday in an old oxygen tank factory in never-going-to-be-glamorous Once. I liked it an awful lot more. I’ll be heading back to both (and writing more about them for Juanele) in the coming days, but in the meantime, below is a quick first impression I posted on Juanele’s blog.

A study in contrasts:

Yesterday night, the ArteBA preview at La Rural. Champagne flutes, jeans with blazers, a few artists and journalists among hoards of overdressed socialites more interested in the free-flowing Chandon than in the art around them.

This evening, a bunch of street artists at work transforming an old oxygen tank factory in Once. Homemade pizza, paint-stained T-shirts, some thirty art makers laying stencils, crafting murals, and dropping graffiti. All of them eager to explain and debate their visions for their own few square feet of this amazing space.

It shouldn’t be hard to figure out which I preferred.

As ArteBA gulps down media attention like it’s imitation champagne, across town, Street ArteBA is bringing together street artists of all sorts and from all over, to share in the transformation of a space crying to be spraypainted. It’s sort of connected to ArteBA—it’s mentioned in the official program—but it’s very much its own thing. Katrin Richter came up with the idea for this large-scale open studio, brought Fundación Rozenblum on board, and together with her boyfriend Fede (also known as Bla Bla Buto) put together a slate of 36 street artists, some established, others hardly known, and invited them to stake out some space and do with it what they would.

Though my initial impression was that Street ArteBA was less a public event than an opportunity to build bonds and promote exchange among the street artists themselves, a few hours talking with Kat and some other artists convinced me that this old factory’s doors really are open to anyone. The artists will be working from 11am until 6pm on Friday, May 20 and from 11am until 5pm Saturday, May 21; they’re a fascinating and friendly bunch, as much fun to talk to as to watch. Truck on over to Once and check it out for yourself!

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