Panama’s Street Art part II

For those of you who enjoyed my piece The Street Artists’ Revival of San Felipe, Panama City over at FatCap last week, here are a few more pics from the streets of Panama City’s old quarter for you to check out.

Purple King Crew’s contribution to the basketball court, a tribute to Panamanian folklore and culture, works around the irregular texture of the wall. Drums of Panama’s tipico music mix with letters covered in patterns found in molas (reverse-applique designs of the Kuna Amerindians), while a diablo rojo, or public bus (note the pimped out roof with its bubble skylights), emerges from behind a diablico sucio, a papier mache mask worn at folkloric fiestas in Panama’s interior.

Garbage pails in San Felipe are now destinations in themselves. This is one of many painted pails in the old quarter.

The body stencils, which may appear anywhere where a sawed off railing or pipe used to be, are the work of Klan 507. I chatted with one of the members, whose identity I have withheld, on the stoop of the house where the group squats in San Felipe. “Graffiti is like a tattoo for the city,” he told me.
The group chose the number 507 because it is the country code of Panama.

Scaffolding and construction barriers that surround renovation sites provide space for art in Panama City, albeit temporarily. The week after I took this photo along San Felipe’s Avenida Central, the barrier disappeared, revealing a freshly restored façade. Such is the inherently ephemeral nature of street art.

Stormtroopers guard the entrance to the basketball court on Calle 4ta Oeste.

Concrete posts, holding up an over-the-water building, stare back while the Pacific Ocean laps up against them.

Walls overlooking a tile-strewn lot of a recently demolished building have become another canvas for the leggy stencils of Colombian-born, Panama-based artist Jacqueline Brandwayn.

Plop! is the famous sound affect word that appears in the punch line in the panels of Condorito, a Chilean comic strip known throughout Latin America. A metal door on a narrow side street in San Felipe has become a punch line panel, complete with the obligatory victim flipping backwards in surprise.

An anonymous interpretation of a diablo rojo rolls along near the beach. The buses, having served out their first lives as American schoolbuses, were bought secondhand and shipped to Panama, where the vehicles received one-of-a-kind paint jobs and began serving as public buses. In response to the vehicles’ poor maintenance and traffic records, the government is now replacing the independently-owned diablos rojos with a fleet of modern, air-conditioned buses operated by the city. Half of the routes have already been replaced. Soon, the only diablos rojos remaining in Panama City will be on the walls as urban art.


About OmnivorousTraveler

Darrin DuFord is a travel writer, mapgazer, and jungle rodent connoisseur. His writing has won numerous awards and has appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, BBC Travel, Gastronomica, Roads & Kingdoms, Narratively, and Perceptive Travel, among other publications. He is the author of Breakfast for Alligators: Quests, Showdowns and Revelations in the Americas (released in July 2016) and Is There a Hole in the Boat? Tales of Travel in Panama without a Car, silver medalist in the 2007 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Awards.
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3 Responses to Panama’s Street Art part II

  1. Thank you for visiting my blog and “liking”. That’s how I found you, and I’m glad I did. We don’t get into the City except just passing through, so your photos and their captions are fascinating. Perhaps one day I will visit PC with the idea of getting to know it better. Your blog is a good place to start.

  2. hello am rodrigo dos santos, I painted the wall eat the image diablo rojo Casona beside the old town in panama, thanks for posting, I have a collection of paintings diablos rojos

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