Superb Public Art in San Gregorio de Polanco [Part 1]

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…

There are 3 towns in Uruguay, which are renowned for their murals. The final one on our list, San Gregorio de Polanco, really surprised us with its number of murals and the high standard of their execution. To complete the picture this town has beautiful sandy beaches on the lake, some of which are lined with interesting sculptures.
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.

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 wouldn't even need street art to attract visitors. It has several lovely sandy beaches along the shore of the lake. Many Uruguayans come here for holidays.

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.

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 leaked onto the footpath.

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.

There are links to more information about the murals of San Gregorio at the bottom of our second gallery post .

Juergen

webmaster, main photographer & driver, second cook and only husband at dare2go.com. Freelance web designer with nearly 20 years of experience at webbeetle.com.au

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8 Responses

  1. Ruth says:

    Wow! The murals are great. You guys have a talent for finding really cool places. Not sure if you noticed but some of the murals in here look like paintings of Joaquin Torres Garcia, one of Uruguay’s most famous painters (or at least are done in his characteristic style). I visited his museum in Montevideo many years ago. I was elated to find his painting in the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid.

    • Juergen says:

      Thanks for enlightening us on Joaquin Torres Garcia! I really didn’t know about him – and you’re right: several of these murals are reminiscent of his style. This will show more so in our second upcoming post!

  2. Katy says:

    Wow! Love this art. My hometown Melbourne is famous for it and I too like to discover the street scene wherever we travel. What always amazes me is not only the quality of the art but how it is maintained in extremely challenging physical conditions – like that water tower.

  3. That’s some awesome street art! We’ve been known to drive a few hundred kilometers out of the way for all kinds of things not nearly as interesting as these murals.

    • Juergen says:

      It truly is! …and nothing more satisfying than being rewarded for your detour. Waterfalls are another of our small passions and we have gone out of our way several times – only to find a small dribble of a fall.

  4. Like you, we also go out of our way to find street art. Just love that you found these wonderful pieces that make the urban so much more appealing; even if San Gregorio is not typically urban.

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