“What beauty can possibly be found under umbrellas/ in a quasi-chic Chilango watering hole sidewalk café?” Mexican poet Luis Cotto-Vasallo asks at the beginning of his poem “Bistro Bard.”
Sidewalk cafés do seem to be unlikely places to harbor beauty. But so, too, do alleyways overflowing with rotting garbage; sidewalks cracked and broken and neglected; abandoned buildings sagging on their foundations; and miles and miles of crumbling brick or adobe walls.
How can beauty flourish in improbable places?
Ask the artists of Guadalajara. Better yet, watch them emblazon neglected walls with murals, thus defying the grit and clutter and chaos of the city, and coaxing beauty out of brokenness.
Even in the old murals whose paint is fading and peeling after years of being exposed to the elements, there’s a certain understated charm.
A city without art is a city without soul, but judging by the number and quality of murals in Mexico’s second-largest city, Guadalajara is still in firm possession of its soul.
Little brown sparrow,
how long have you been searching
for a crumb of bread?
Text and photo © 2017 by Mark M. Redfearn, all rights reserved