The Barto could be here.
The clouds open and the tune of The Simpsons sounds in my head as I walk among the colorful buildings of “Sprayfield”, the nickname earned by the Infonavit Iztacalco colony, a multifamily unit east of Mexico City that in the Last months have been upholstered with murals of the most famous yellow family of television.
A woman crosses an alley guarded by a Gorgory Chief of spray. Rounding the corner, Professor Frink helps Homer to the Cube to recover his bidimensionality. There Roy awaits me, the creator of this graffiti, along with Marco, the creative mind behind Sprayfield and my guide on this tour of Iztacalco’s walls.
“This neighborhood belongs to us,” Belor tells me, as Marco is known in the world of graffiti. “Over the years we have seen how the walls are scratched but there is not something that we like or quality. We were struck by doing something about the Simpsons, which is one of our favorite cartoons. “
Later, in front of a mural with bullies from Springfield Elementary School, we met with Cancer and Comer1, other urban artists with whom Belor founded the Night Lords collective , which has been responsible for bringing Sprayfield to life since November 2017. The three have been scratching the walls of the city for years, and although their trajectories have always been marked by clandestinity and gang fighting, they seek to involve residents with the murals to create a community and thus recover public spaces.
“You see here all the striped walls, then people already have a prejudice and a stigma of graffiti: for them it’s a rayon,” says Marco. He explains that the scratches tend to generate a sense of dirt and insecurity in the inhabitants of the colony but with the murals of The Simpsons, instead, he has noticed that the residents feel more involved and safe in their environment.
But to convince the neighbors to let them paint murals in their homes was not easy. Comer1 -whose real name is Ivan- says that in order to paint the first murals, they went from house to house to present the project to the owners of each fence who wanted to intervene: “As people are accustomed to scratches being pure tags and bombs, then they do not like it. That’s what graffiti is for them. “
That’s why they looked for a topic that people would accept, and that’s how they came to The Simpsons : “It’s a caricature that we all like. It is easier for neighbors to accept that you paint their wall if it is something they like and with which they can relate -explains Comer1-. We proposed the theme of The Simpsons and showed them some pictures of our work so they could see how it could look. The first wall is always the watershed. Then people see it and identify you. “
Less than six months later, Infonavit Iztacalco already has 15 completed murals and five more in process. Recognized artists of the local graffiti scene have come to capture their works and the Night Lords team tells me that they have even been contacted by international graffiti artists who want to join the project.
To prove it, we walked a couple of blocks until we reached a rolling market. There, on a wall that spans a couple of houses, a huge mural of yellow hippies fighting flowers with uniformed rifles sets the scene for the iconic character of ZDEY – a French graffiti artist – to key a Mexican flag to a defeated Donald Trump.
Although the Night Lords team is in charge of negotiating with neighbors to agree on new spaces for artists to scratch, Belor says that each graffiti artist from Sprayfield is in charge of translating a chapter or a character from the cartoon into a concept, and that they are the ones who finance the operation. “Everyone has to get their cans, their paintings. That’s why the project has been paused. Sometimes the murals start and they have to stop until they collect more money for the material. “
Although it is a project that seeks to return public spaces to the inhabitants of this colony, so far they have not received support from the authorities. But the participation of the neighbors has become increasingly enthusiastic. They no longer have to knock on each door to convince residents to lend their walls: now it is they who are looking for Belor, Comer1 and Cancer to make their building part of Sprayfield. And as no artist charges residents for making the murals, some neighbors support with ladders, scaffolding and even materials.
Comer1, Belor and Roy in front of a collaborative mural in Sprayfield.
Towards the end of the route we find a huge red wall with some scratches, nothing significant. It is a primary school. Belor looks at the fence and tells me that among Sprayfield’s future plans is to reach an agreement with the school authorities to paint a mural on that wall. The goal is to make the wall more attractive and to lose the stigma of graffiti as something necessarily clandestine. “We want to cover all the walls we can, that there is a chance with the neighbors to integrate more artists who want to come here. And make things bigger than these walls; make murals of buildings or a school; paint the buildings up to make things more choncha. The same and build a Sprayfield 2 … and make projects in other areas of the city, “he concludes.
The walls of Sprayfield are as diverse as the styles of their creators. While Marco takes me to see the last mural, I can see how the neighbors greet him in the distance, others even come to talk to him. The Night Lords project is well known by all the inhabitants of the neighborhood, and even by other Infonavit colonies, Belor assures me. And not only that, but artists from all over the country continue to contact this crew to join the project. Meanwhile, they continue negotiating new spots with neighbors so that little by little the scratches become murals.
I say goodbye to Belor to finish this chapter in a neighborhood where residents are the protagonists. A caricature that replicates from Springfield to Iztacalco. It is clear to me that it is not the end of this series, but the pilot of a story that just begins in the east of Mexico City.
The Mazatlan Post