The line between street art and graffiti can be blurred for some. In some cases street art can be a thriving community project but some people can only see it as a source of vandalism with ugly tagging. Like much art, there is room for interpretation and it really depends on what artist you see and where you visit.
But there is something special about travelling, walking down a random street and seeing it colorfully painted by artists who are truly gifted. Street art often reflects social, cultural and political views and because it is inexpensive to create and view it is open to all of the people. In South America there is no shortage of talented artists and street art can be found all over the region. If you are someone who goes out of their way to find street art in a city you should consider the following areas:
The Candelaria in Bogota, Colombia
The largest and capital city of Colombia, Bogota is thriving with a rich artistic community. This is a very popular neighborhood for students and artists. A historic neighborhood that features old Spanish architecture and many of Bogota's museums, galleries and cafes. It became a popular place for backpacker hostels and along with the boom and tourism it is possible to get many different types of food including cheap pizza slices and sushi.
At one time this was not the safest neighborhood but with the introduction of hotels and hostels, the police presence has increased to ensure safety.
São Paulo, Brazil
Known to many affectionately as "Sampa," Brazil's largest city and the most populated city in South America, it can be very overwhelming for the first-time visitor as the city is massive. While the city is important as a financial and business centre, it is also important culturally for local artists. São Paulo is also known globally by street artists who come here to view and display their own artistic impression. São Paulo is known for a particular type of street art called pichação which is a series of tagging in a cryptic style. Street artists in the city appear to compete in one-one-one-upmanship of who can find the most difficult, and remote spaces. In some cases they may free climb, abseil, or rappel to the perfect canvas.
Barrio Bellavista in Santiago, Chile
Known as the bohemian neighborhood and once called "La Chimba", Barrio Bellavista is situated between the Mapocho River and San Cristóbal Hill. This colorful area is home to modern restaurants, art galleries and plenty of shopping. It is also home to one of South America's most famous poets, Pablo Neruda.
Very popular with tourists, there is plenty of nightlife here. It is easy to spend a day wandering the streets shopping, admiring the streets lined with graffiti, grabbing dinner and drinks and then dancing through the night.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
A world-class city often called the "Paris of South America" what most people do not realize is that there is a tremendous street art community in the city. In fact, the art has been elevated from a form of vandalism to being seen as an opportunity for revitalization. It is common for a paint company to sponsor a neighborhood project where run-down walls and brought back to life by local street artists using their paint.