A neighborhood covered in street art
Graffiti is a thing in Rome. Everyone asks me about it and my response is that Romans have been scribbling on walls since antiquity. But is it an art form? I think so. I love street art, and when I need a bit of the present while in the Eternal City, I like to walk around Quadraro, a neighborhood in Rome’s southeast.
Quadraro, an old working class enclave embedded between ancient and modern history– aqueducts, Roman villas, case popolari and Cinecittà, is a kind of micro-state with an independent personality, in part due to its location (south-east periphery) and history- a pre-WWII boom thanks to movie making followed by a brutal decimation in April 1944, when more than 2000 people were rounded up and deported in the Nazi-led “Operation Whale”. Quadraro kept going, and something happened. Street art.
In 2011, David Vecchiato painted a wall and now Quadraro is Rome’s open-air museum, Museo Urbano di Roma, big, luscious, colourful and sometimes confounding murals by Rome-based artists like Diavu (aka Vecchiato), Alice Pasquini and Giovanna Pistone, as well as a gang of international artists including Ron English, Gary Baseman, Joe Ledbetter and Jim Avignon, and many others.
Some murals are painted on border walls of the neighborhood’s thoroughfares, others on exterior walls of shops or houses, and one in a children’s park. It doesn’t matter, what does matter is that each artist and location was specifically chosen for the neighborhood and for his/her contributions to street art, a genre that is more and more blurring the lines between between renegade and fine artist.
It is these kind of spaces, colours, moments, images that inspire me to want to hug everyone and everything around me. Street art is a fundamental part of each neighborhood and every movement. Likewise the natural order from crappy scribble to beautiful script, like Tommaso Guerra’s lovely letters. For those playing around on Instagram and in love with walls, take a look at CNN’s project #CNNMuralStories.