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The Writing on Mexican Walls Isn't Graffiti - It's 'Vernacular Branding'

Steven Heller - The Atlantic
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August 1, 2013
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A new book documents the tradition, commerce, and politics of colorful bardas de baile (Ghost & Co.).

Mexican Wall Painting: Bardas de Baile
by Patricia Cué
Check it out on Amazon.com

In central Mexico, walls are invitations to party. Since 1960, bardas de baile (loosely translated as "music walls") have illuminated exurban and rural areas with colorful, hand-painted advertisements for music, dances, and carnivals. Although these work of homemade graphic design share some of the characteristics of graffiti, they are not tags - and they are tolerated by the authorities.

The new book Mexican Wall Painting: Bardas De Baile (Ghost & Co., New York) by Patricia Cué, a designer and design teacher at San Diego State University, examines these expressive painted letterings and the subcultures that have developed around them.

While going on car trips as a child from her hometown of Puebla (central Mexico), Cué was fascinated by the colors and the raw aesthetics of the painted wall signs that contrasted with the slick advertisements on actual billboards. Later, as an academic, she studied vernacular and traditional forms of design, deciding "to dig deep into how [the walls] were painted and by whom," she told me in an email. The project took five years to complete.

Read the rest at The Atlantic

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