11 Bus Stops with Vibrant Mosaic Art near Vicuña

Los “Paraderos Del Viento” en Valle de Elqui, Chile

Paraderos Del Viento: Paradero 4 (a newer piece from 2013/14)

Paraderos Del Viento: Paradero 4 (a newer piece from 2013/14)

Driving from Serena up to Vicuña, in Chile, we noticed the first one of these colourful bus shelters by pure chance – it just caught our eye. One of the advantages of travelling in your own vehicle: you can stop briefly for spectacular sights like these, take them in, take a few pictures and drive off. Sometimes with amazing landscapes it doesn’t work well for lack of room to pull off the road, but every one of these bus stops has a bay to pull into which made it really easy…

The first batch of the “Paraderos Del Viento” (Bus Stops of the Wind) were created in 2009 by the artist Luis Gastélum Collantes, funded through a government grant. Initially seven major stops between Puclaro and Vicuña were created under the “Fondo Nacional de la Cultura y las Artes”. Most of these depict nature scenes with native birds as the central motif.

In 2013 the same artist was able to get more funding from “Fondart” for another four shelters to be transformed with tile mosaics. Three of these are around El Tambo, half way to Vicuña, the forth is in Varillar (east of Vicuña), where a rural motif was created involving the pupils from the local school. The three mosaics at El Tambo depict local heritage, craft, and landscape features, to connect the viewer with life in this part Chile. These are more vivid in colour, bolder in their expression, and clearly demonstrate the development of the artist.

To us, public art like these bus shelters in the Elqui valley, or the streetart we show in several other gallery posts, are significant media of artistic expression, as they add colour and joy to ordinary people’s daily life and expose them to creative art without the threshold of a gallery.

What struck us the most, when we looked at all of them, was the fact that none of these shelters were badly vandalised or covered in graffiti; you see that on almost every other such structure elsewhere beside the road, rural or urban. Only one, in a busy location outside Vicuña, had one graffiti tag, but clearly next to the tiled mosaic. This indicated to us that the public seem to value these bus shelters beyond their practical function, and respect the artist’s work. The second round of funding, for more shelters, is a clear sign of how well this project must have been received.

We only learned afterwards, through internet research, that there is a total of 11 mosaic art shelters in the Valle de Elqui – we are very happy that, through some luck and perseverance, we can show you all of them!

[I tried to keep these photos in order as you encounter the bus stops along the Ruta de las Estrellas.]

Further information [in Spanish] on this Ministry of Culture website .

What do you think? Would similarly colourful bus shelters enhance the environment in your town or city?
Do you know of similar projects to bring art into public spaces?


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24 Responses

  1. I enjoyed seeing these vibrant tile bus stops in Chile. I remember that many subway stations in Santiago had gorgeous tile work, so these bus stop make sense.

    • Juergen says:

      That’s true, the design of some Metro stations in Santiago is also quite impressive. Each and every one is different, so getting out at a new stop is some kind of exploration (and I don’t mean finding the right exit – that too).

  2. What a great idea and result and proof of the value of community art. I live in Philadelphia, a major US east coast city with all the usual problems of crime and poverty that go along with that. However, Philly has a very active mural arts program that, with community involvement in planning and painting, has put up murals on buildings all over the city, including in the so-called “worst” neighborhoods. Here, they are also largely respected by the graffiti artists.

    • Juergen says:

      I’m with you: I believe public art should involve community participation. The more intense the community involvement in the planning and execution the stronger the connection will be later on.

  3. Yes! Adding “color and joy to everyday life without the threshold of a gallery” makes the art breathe with us as we go about our days. Love this vibrancy and celebration! Why wouldn’t you want to dream of soaring like a bird or a happy encounter with a goat while you’re waiting for your ride? :)

  4. Wow I love mosaic and these are absolutely beautiful. What a great find.

    • Juergen says:

      I guess on your travels through Italy you encountered a lot of mosaics of the classical kind – not so colourful and vibrant.

  5. One hears so much about street art its wonderful to see these purposely designed street mosaics :)
    We have a large mosaic created by our local community that greets you at the ferry terminal here in the Bay off Brisbane, Qld Australia – It’s such a welcome addition to gaze at while waiting for public transport! :)

    • Juergen says:

      It is wonderful that this type of art enhances the life of people going about their everyday business. We were especially impressed that they were totally graffiti-free! And mosaic is a perfect medium – it is not damaged by any sort of weather!

  6. Susan Moore says:

    I love this type of public art – the bus shelters are there anyways so why not make them beautiful. I am a big fan of mosaic artwork – these are marvelous! i wish more cities would do these type of public art projects.

    • Juergen says:

      Yes, I agree that many cities could do more! I could even imagine that some artists would be happy to create public art in their local community for a lower than normal fee – just for the exposure and to give back…

  7. Patti Morrow says:

    Who knew waiting for a bus could be so entertaining? I love these — especially the one with the vibrant cactus! I haven’t been to Chile yet, but definitely have it on my list.

    • Juergen says:

      Patti, the Elqui Valley is certainly a worthwhile destination – not only for these bus stops! Fertile green valleys nestled between stark Andean mountains, the clearest blue skies you’ve ever seen, and many observatories taking advantage of such clear skies…

  8. I love posts like this and can only imagine how much fun you had discovering each new mosaic as well as uncovering the story behind them. Love the public art and your observation that even the people writing graffiti have left these mosaics alone is very interesting!

    • Juergen says:

      See, I promised: nothing ‘boring’ about my post on bus stops. I really believe that ugliness or ordinariness attracts the most graffiti (other than the egocentric tagging).

  9. Nancie says:

    I absolutely love these! Waiting for a bus surrounded by all this colorful art has to make people feel good. I know I’d want to take the bus just so I could admire the shelters. :)

    • Juergen says:

      You’re right: waiting at such a colourful bus shelter would probably make people feel better. Personally I would most likely inspect finer details of the mosaics.

  10. Hats off to Chile for funding such a worthwhile project and for you to have planned in advance to take photos of all mosaic art shelters in the Valle de Elqui. I wish they’d do something like this in Toronto!

    • Juergen says:

      We are often surprised at things which seem to get public funding in Chile, art or otherwise (eg Chile is also on the forefront of supporting internet start-ups). But I must correct you: the photographing wasn’t planned at all, once I noticed the first 2 bus stops I simply persevered…

  11. One of my favorite travel pictures is of a brightly painted (graffiti, really) bus stop in the Caribbean. Great photos.

  12. Hi Yasha. I have nominated you for a Liebster Award. If you would like to accept then go to this link – http://www.thetravellinglindfields.com/2015/04/liebster-award.html – for all the info. BTW – I love your blog.

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