Urban art comes in all kinds of forms, whether they be installations that harness the power of nature or interventions that beautify the city. Large-scale murals may the most visible of this broad genre, but even these are quite diverse -- some are inspired by traditional craft cultures, while others pay homage to weeds, modern bird families or encourage us to act on climate change.
Spanish artistic duo María López and Javier de Riba of Reskate Studio take the mural to another level: not only are their huge works seen during the day, but at night, they reveal yet another hidden, glow-in-the-dark layer of meaning. Their latest is "Hizkuntza," which depicts a simple-looking whale during the day, but as night falls, one can see another ghostly image emerge, one of sailors inside the creature. Located in Patxa Plaza in Baiona, France, the mural points to the area's historic links to whaling:
The commercial extinction of the Eubalena Glacialis whale in the Cantabrian Sea made the Basque sail to new destinations, which created new languages such as Basque-Icelandic and Algonquin-Basque. [This] intervention [is] in Patxa Place, where locals and visitors gather, celebrate and promote Basque culture.
The pair often integrate elements of local lore into their works, using photo-luminescent paints that can retain their glow for up to 12 hours. This one, titled "Chili Queen," was inspired by the history of Tex-Mex food:
From the 1860s until the late 1930s, one of the primary amusements of both visitors and locals was the food and entertainment offered in the plazas of San Antonio by the Chili Queens. These women set up tables at twilight to serve chili con carne and other Mexican American delicacies all night long. Soldiers, tourists, cattlemen, troubadours and people from diverse social backgrounds felt enchanted by these women’s charm and their spicy dishes. Over the years, the Chili Queens became the forerunners of today’s nationwide Tex-Mex food industry.
Located in Olot, Spain, this mural speaks to a local research project that led to the reintroduction of otters into the river:
After past errors that affected the environment, nature comes back to life. Thanks to the deep study "Project Otter" by Dr. Deli Saavedra about the recovery of environment this fact took place. In 1998 otters were reintroduced. The specimen liberated in the section of river Fluvià that goes by Olot was named Llum (Light).
This curious work, also in the province of Girona, Catalonia, Spain, refers to the local legend of the flies that repelled an invasion:
The most well-known legend in Girona (Catalonia) is that of the flies of Sant Narcís. The French troops laid siege to the city several times throughout history. In the incursion of 1286 they profaned the sepulchre of Sant Narcís releasing numerous flies that attacked and expelled both French soldiers and their horses. In successive sieges the flies reappeared to defend Girona. Whereas the legends of other cities feature dragons or lions, people from Girona have glorified this little and apparently insignificant being that manages to confront their invading forces.