While traveling, I of course meet many other travelers. I see that many of them live from selling jewelry which they make as they go. And very often they display most unusual creations, which of course are all unique, but moreover they’re interesting concepts from beautiful minds.
Sometimes – when I squint a little – I see trace of their personality in the jewelry they make. It is as if their humor and cheer vibrates in the artwork.
I figured out that many of the street artists are actually nomads who kinda has to follow the sunny weather, because their workshop is outdoor at the curbside, preferably under the shade of a tree. In Uruguayan summer season, you’ll see street artists migrating from southern parts and northern parts of South America to Uruguay – I think because of the ideal climate here and because Uruguayan culture and government is very liberal and relaxed.
Of course the busy tourist season in Uruguay also attracts the street artist. So it looks like a pilgrimage of artist nomads returning every summer arriving here to color up the curbsides with their artwork.
The artist’s arrival in spring also makes it “high season” for me. I’m crazy about unique jewellery, so I pay close attention to the curbside of quiet streets everywhere.
I like talking with the artists and listen to their stories about the life they live and where they wish to go. Sometimes I hear stories so beautiful and so incredible that they linger in my mind for days..
Talking with the artist personally also provide a chance for me to know more about the materials they use and where they come from. I like when their artwork is made of natural materials of good quality..
Lately I noticed that suddenly more copper was being used. So I asked around to try and find out why? – and one artist let me in on a secret.
There was an old abandoned factory being torn down somewhere at a deserted industrial area.
It was commonly known to people in the street artist community, who would go scavenging hunting for interesting trinkets and old copper wire to use for their artwork.
He told me the artists also trade materials and barter amongst themselves, and that there is a certain code of solidarity between them… He said: we all need to eat and thrive – but most of the time we just try to survive as best we can.. So when I wanna find out something about and area in town, I ask the street artists… They really know the streets better than regular folks. They know, for example, where to eat cheap and where it is safe to lodge and which areas of town is more popular than others..
In Montevideo, and in many local towns in Uruguay, the public parks and squares typically offer government organized “display lots, “which the street vendors may use for a small fee… In smaller villages it is common to see the somewhat shack-ish wooden stalls that they can use. They’re usually a festive and engaging milieu to enter.
Of course the bigger cities, like Montevideo and Buenos Aires, also have organizations that collect the handmade artwork from the street artists and then feature the “products ” jointly in so-called studios. These are large indoor areas designed to present a more orderly shop looking environment – with the artwork on display behind glass and with prices marked. There is one checkout for all the products and the quality of the products is monitored and guaranteed . I think it is much less personal, but it has advantages of course.
I still favor the artists “stores” along the streets of South America. And yeah, some have a table display, but many just have a blanket or cardboard box to show you their stuff on . There are so many different artists and their unique creations to explore.
And to know a little about the person who made the jewellery adds deeper meaning to the unique piece of artwork, I think.
Also, from the perspective of my own hard earned money. It feels nice to know they are supporting the creative person who made something special for me and you.
Treat yourself to unique souvenirs from South America. And you’ll know that you have helped an artist a little further.
That should feel good right?