Pachuca Paints Itself: A barrio neighborhood becomes Mexico’s largest mural

By on August 1, 2015

We’re always on the lookout for people making an impact in their local community, and when we recently came across this colorful video and photos of Mexico’s largest mural — a nearly-completed government-sponsored project called “Pachuca Paints Itself,” in the Palmitas neighborhood of Pachuca, a city in Hildago, central Mexico — we thought it was something we’d like to share with you. You don’t get any more “street art” than this. The language spoken in the video is Spanish, of course, as is their Facebook page.

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The people responsible for the colorful transformation of Las Palmitas are an artist collective called the Germen Crew, a street art group, working hand-in-hand with residents in order to paint the facades of 200 homes bright lavender, lime green, and incandescent orange.

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The city government-sponsored project began with persuading homeowners to let their homes be painted, followed by a whitewashing of each building to symbolize that all the residents are equal. The art collective tapped locals, some of them gang members, to cover the houses with more than 5,000 gallons (20,000 liters) of paint.

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The project was created to bring the community together and rehabilitate the area, in an effort to bring the working-class “barrio” together and change its gritty image from a negative to a positive. Las Palmitas was a sketchy area where people avoided going out after dark or interacting with each other but as the project nears its final stages, people in the city have been seen out talking to each other more, and children are once again hanging out on the steep stairways that cut through the Palmitas neighborhood.

Pachuca, formally known as Pachuca de Soto, is the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Hidalgo. It is located in the south-central part of the state.

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The project was led by director Enrique Gómez, who is known as MYBE, a tattooed and goateed former gang member who turned his life around when he rededicated himself to graffiti art and muralism.

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MYBE recently revealed that it has taken the Germen Collective fourteen months to turn the hillside neighborhood of Las Palmitas into a giant, colorful mural, which is supposed to be an homage to the wind: the city of Pachuca is nicknamed “la bella airosa,” a Spanish phrase that loosely translates as “the beautiful breezy city.”

In its final stage, artists are painting more than 16,000 square feet (1,500 square meters) of murals along the narrow streets.

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Reception of the “Pachuca Paints Itself” project has been so positive that plans are in the works now to paint another poor barrio neighborhood, the nearby Cubitos.

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Photographs: Sofia Jaramillo/AP

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