Saturday, December 10, 2011


I am in the city of Curitba, which is part of the southern end of Brazil. I haven't been this far south since I was in Australia some 15 or more years ago. Looking at the map, it appears that I am at about the latitude of the city of Brisbane, Australia, where I spent a month waiting for some ribs to knit back together.

This is actually an apt analogy- not because of the ribs, but rather because of Brisbane. Brisbane is the home of Ironlak, a brand of spray paint that has gone global over the past couple years and recently arrived in Brazil. I sell it in my shop, and I was invited to come down for an event they held here yesterday.

The invitation came a couple months ago, and up until a few days ago I wasn't even sure I was going to go at all. But it came through- I got a free trip and a room to myself paid for by the company. I was supposed to return home today, but I had asked a favor that they let me stay the weekend and go home on Monday, seeing as how I have never been to this end of Brazil and I wanted to see a bit of the city. So now I find myself in a hostel, checked into a dorm, having left my cozy little euro-style room in the hotel. Haven't stayed in a hostel in quite some time.

The event was very interesting. A van picked us up and drove us from the city center to the middle of nowhere in the suburbs of Curitiba, to a warehouse where the event was held. We picked up a bunch of local graffiti artists en route, who were all very friendly and welcoming. The first thing we saw was a Gaucho style barbecue going on - a side of beef surrounded by a fire. The warehouse itself was quite bizarre - filled with all sorts of strange things including a formula 1 race car made entirely of wood (two actually), a climbing wall, and a large number of bicycles hooked up to generators. A large steel structure, recently painted, dominated the center of the space. Of more interest to us were the walls, which were all free game.

The reason for the warehouse soon became clear - it turns out that Curitiba is nicknamed Crueltiba due to the frequent rains, and we were treated to plenty of that. The weather is much more temperate than in Salvador, and I'm thankful that I had the foresight to pack a fleece sweatshirt, which I have worn almost continuously since I arrived here. I didn't much like the idea of a dozen or more graffiterios painting in an enclosed space, seeing as I hadn't packed my respirator, but I got over it. I also didn't have the foresight to pack any painting clothes, which I am now regretting.

There were four of us shop owners flown in for the event. They quickly formed a little clique of their own, or rather three of them did, I didn't really click with the clique although I liked them well enough. None of them seemed inclined to paint anything, and I figured I wouldn't paint either, but at the encouragement of the other writers I finally decided to jump in. It was hard to resist - there were hundreds and hundreds of cans of paint made available to us to paint the space. We could have painted five or six warehouses with all that paint. I've never had the opportunity to just grab as much paint as I wanted and go nuts (although I could, any day of the week, considering I run a store of my own- although that would probably not be a wise business decision). As a result my left index finger, the spraying one, is quite sore today. I could barely move it yesterday.

As the event wound down and people started packing up, they really started packing up. Everyone had a backpack, or two, and suddenly these packs were getting filled up with cans. Everybody took as much as they could, and there was still a huge mountain of cans when all was said and done. I myself have a box of 12 cans that I need to use up before I go home. Apparently there is another event tomorrow, I plan to attend and use up as much as I can.

Enough words. And I have other things to do. Have a look at some pictures.

The churrasco gaucho. 'Churrasco' being 'barbecue', and 'Gaucho' being a term for folks in Southern Brazil and Argentina, sometimes used to refer to South American cowboys.

The wooden car. They take their formula 1 very seriously here in Brazil.

The bank of power-generating bicycles, which can drive a projector, and a dvd, and some other stuff. The owner of the space told me a single bike can generate about 100 watts. These can all be folded up and towed around, it is set up on a trailer.

The paint! Ah, I think I've died and gone to heaven.

The artists at work. This was the best wall.

Two Aussies representing Ironlak. Nice guys, as most Australians are. They arrived, painted their pieces, had some food, and split. They are now in Argentina.

A view of the same wall, completed.

An excellent multi-layered stencil

My wall, in collaboration with Japem, a local graffiteiro and all around nice guy. I am a graffiti hack!

If I though I was in heaven, imagine these kids. I was torn between thinking how much Lucas would have loved to have been there, and also how I would have not wanted him there with all the nasty chemicals in the air. The masks they are wearing do not provide adequate protection.

The van to take us back was very late, so some of us went out and bombed an empty lot. This was one of my contributions.


Anonymous said...

I think we may have met... I'm Christian's wife. Just found your blog; I had no idea you were a grafiteiro, but love your art!

markuza said...

Aha! We have met. I have a gift for you still from the wedding we unfortunately didn't attend. Thanks for the kudos, fellow expat!

fabiobossard said...

I saw the pictures on Flikr. Very nice! It seems you had a good time. It's always good having the opportunity to travel to different places, right? I am glad they paid for the trip.

About the gaucho term, it's used for people from Rio Grande do Sul and Argentina (Maybe uruguayans too). I don't recall people from Curitiba being called gauchos.

markuza said...

Thanks Fábio - I think you're right. Thanks for clarifying that! I sure do like traveling to other places, something I haven't done for some time. Nowadays all my trips are back home to the States, which is great, but it's nice to see something new. Especially if it's on someone else's dime (that's a good one for your blog!)

Jennifer Souza said...

What an interesting trip....I hope I can travel on someone else's dime soon!

Pedra said...

Sounds like a fun trip! I took a 3 week adventure to the south of Brazil during my first 6 months in Salvador and loved it. And they do know how to cook some meat down there :)

markuza said...

Jennifer: hope you get the chance as well!

Cheryl: it has been fun! I owe you an email.