11 Bus Stops with Vibrant Mosaic Art near Vicuña
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!