Regular readers might know us well enough to understand that sometimes we go out of our way to find public art, particularly street art . So when we heard that a town in Uruguay, called San Gregorio de Polanco, has a number of murals we decided to visit. It was almost on our way from Tacuarembó (where we had visited the Gaucho Festival ) to Montevideo. I say ‘almost’ because San Gregorio is around 60 kilometres off the main highway south…
The water tower on top of the hill. This is the first public art piece you will pass when you drive into San Gregorio de Polanco in Uruguay. It’s located on the right side of the road where a triangular park separates the lanes.
I first came across the town’s name when I was trying to find out more about the various artists who contributed murals in Pan de Azúcar . In the end I didn’t find much information because San Gregorio’s murals dominated the search results. Together with 25 de Agosto, this is now the third town in Uruguay where we have found an extensive collection of public art.
Those three towns lie a fair way apart, and the style of their respective murals is quite different. In 25 de Agosto, the first place we visited, most murals look like they are influenced by traditional oil-on-canvas techniques. In Pan de Azúcar we found a number of murals along a bridging tango theme, their style often more like caricatures. And then San Gregorio really surprised us – in a good way!
A lot of the murals in this town are of a really high standard, superbly detailed and executed. Some are three-dimensional, others are bold graphic artworks. To complete the picture there are a number of interesting sculptures placed along the lake front.
San Gregorio de Polanco has several lovely sandy beaches along the shore of the lake. Many Uruguayans come here for holidays.
Yet San Gregorio de Polanco doesn’t really need public art to attract visitors. Most people come here for the fine sandy beaches and fishing along the lake front. The town caters for visitors with a large campground and a multitude of holiday lettings.
San Gregorio street art: ‘humano mamifero’, the human mammal.
Streetart on the facade of the Hotel San Gregorio. Finally you can see what a skyhook looks like. The paint drum, on the left, leaked onto the footpath. Notice the stairway to heaven!
We wandered around the sleepy streets of San Gregorio a fair bit, constantly snapping photos. Some objects were a little obscured by parked vehicles or trees lining the footpath, but I ended up with so many photos that now I have decided to split this into two gallery posts. Here are the first images from the upper part of town, beginning at the town’s entrance near the water tower. The next post will concentrate more on murals we found around the town’s central plaza.
Long before you reach the town of San Gregorio there are colourful bigfoot prints on the road guiding you in the right direction.
Playing with perspectives in this mural on a corner building. The woven ribbon from the water tower appears once again.
Two black people going about their business. This mural is just down from the corner building with perspective art.
San Gregorio street art: two pieces left and right of an entrance door.
The left side of the door: memories of water. Loosely translated “My father sent the lines to heaven and my mother laughed. From them I received the energy and art that drives and records the stories.”
Streetart in San Gregorio: a courtyard wall with a pegasus
Streetart in San Gregorio: ‘special embryos’, dedicated to the native youth. Notice the extension above the wall!
A three-dimensional ceramic wall-art piece themed for the town of San Gregorio.
Streetart on the facade of the Hotel San Gregorio. In this corner room you can find some of the concept paintings for various pieces throughout town.
Inside the hotel you can find this concept painting of the mural which covers the water tower. From older photos I get the impression that the red shade on the tower was originally stronger (but not as bright as in this painting) and has faded over the years.
Inside the hotel you can find this concept painting of the mural on the opposite wall. I wonder why the meat grinder didn’t make it into the final piece.
Streetart on a wall opposite the Hotel San Gregorio. Please compare with the concept painting.
A three-dimensional piece of wall-art on a house in San Gregorio. Part of the ship’s bow is covered with hand-made mosaic tiles.
Three-dimensional mural, with a fish in the centre, on the wall outside of the San Gregorio police station.
Mural showing a fisherman on the wall outside of the San Gregorio police station
This large horse statue stands at the shore of the lake in San Gregorio
A lovely white statue of a stylised bird at the shore of the lake in San Gregorio.
There are links to more information about the murals of San Gregorio at the bottom of our second gallery post .