Soho Malaga has become a mural and graffiti hotspot.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the storied Heredia District, Málaga’s former 19th century bourgeois enclave, has emerged reborn.
It’s no secret that Wally and I both love graffiti and murals, so when our friends Jo and José proposed a visit to the Barrio de las Artes, the epicenter of Málaga’s street art scene, we both said yes.
Located south of the main Alameda thoroughfare, the triangular-shaped quarter has rebranded itself as the Soho district. This was made possible through a public arts initiative that goes by the acronym MAUS (Málaga Arte Urbano Soho), turning the surrounding streets and buildings into canvases.
The first large-scale work we encountered was an expressive black and white mural created by Belgian street artist Roa depicting wiry haired rats tumbling down the curving façade of a multistory building at the eastern end of Calle Casa de Campo.
Since we had recently indulged in a big lunch, José proposed that the four of us check out the rooftop terrace bar of the Hotel Soho Bahía. When we arrived, we found that it was closed. Perhaps an extension of the previous Labor Day holiday, perhaps not — who can say, as businesses seem to run on a different timetable in Spain.
Street artists from around the world have been invited by Fernando Francés, the director of the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo (CAC) to contribute and transform the district into an open-air gallery. Admission to the museum is free, and it’s located next to the Guadalmedina River near the city center in a building that was previously a warehouse used for Málaga’s wholesale markets.
We didn’t have time to stop inside but had fun posing with the letters (choose one that corresponds to your initials) by a mural by Boa Mistura that reads, “El poder de la imaginacion nos hace infinitos” (The power of the imagination makes us infinite).
Two of the most high-profile works loom larger than life on the façade of the Colegio García Lorca directly behind the museum — seven stories high to be exact.
To the right is Paz y Libertad (Peace and Liberty) by Shepard Fairey aka Obey. For those of you who may not be familiar with Fairey, he’s the artist responsible for creating the iconic “Hope” image depicting then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Opposite Fairey’s piece is a mural by Dean Stockton aka D*Face: a tongue-in-cheek pop art-inspired piece that declares, “I’ll put an end to those flying D*Dogs if it’s the last thing I ever do!!!” I love that the fighter pilot has one red eye and one blue.
The art-focused transformation of Málaga’s Soho district elevates the medium and was a highlight of our visit. The key is to remember to look up. –Duke