Cuenca Street Art

(Last Updated On: July 21, 2017)

Graffiti is ubiquitous. You’ve seen it.  Crude public bathroom scratchings, quickly sprayed tags on underpasses, scrawled political slogans suggesting revolt and revolution, artistic but quickly applied stencils and posters, and elaborate multi-colored murals.We’ve seen it in every city we’ve visited: covering the trains in Naples, Italy; on the outer walls of Rome; throughout the San Telmo area in Buenos Aires; and, perhaps most sadly, too often on beautifully-preserved historical architecture.

Long an underground industry, most graffiti art was traditionally painted under the cover of night, often involving illegally-obtained supplies and a healthy dose of trespassing. In recent years, graffiti art has entered the mainstream, embraced by the hip-hop community and even showcased in museums of modern art. Perhaps the most famous (or infamous) street artist, Banksy, has had his work sold for millions of dollars. Of course, this new acceptance has done nothing to dissuade budding street artists from honing their craft on every available wall in their neighborhoods.

For years, cities around the world have waged war against graffiti and the individuals who deface public and private property. Perhaps most famously, New York City has since the 1980’s chased a graffiti-free goal on its subway cars, spending millions of dollars to eradicate any hint of spraypaint.

More and more, however, cities around the world are trying a different approach – working with groups of street artists or graffiti gangs to attempt to ensure a level of quality of art and prevent vandalism. Rome, who’s history with scrawled messages on walls dates back to Pompeii, has begun to provide legal spaces for street art.

Similarly,  Cuenca, Ecuador  enacted an ordinance regarding street art in 2013.  The city, working with approximately 60 street artists looking for an outlet for their craft, agreed to sanction the artist’s murals and even supply the paint to create them.  The artists agreed to assist the City with covering unsanctioned street art also with paint supplied by the City.

Cuenca Artist at Work
Cuenca Artist at Work

Cuenca Artist at Work


Cuenca Street Art
Finished Similar Piece – Cuenca Street Art

A meandering walk through Cuenca will present you with an amazing array of street art (certainly not all of it legal, but most with redeeming qualities). The gallery below includes a sampling of the favorites we’ve seen:


So what do you think? Is graffiti simply vandalism, or street art? Leave a comment!

Here are some related articles about travel in Ecuador that you might enjoy:

Things we love about Cuenca, Ecuador

Whitewater Rafting in Banos, Ecuador

Banos Ecuador Active Volcano and Hot Spring Spas

Cuenca Ecuador Side Trip – El Cajas National Park

Free Walking Tour of Quito – Start Your Visit Here

14 thoughts on “Cuenca Street Art”

  1. The art is breathtaking. The story you told of how the work of graffiti artists is being observed across the world is very captivating. Some of the street art I have seen in my life I would consider vandalism for sure, but always the assessment is based on the quality of the work. Otherwise, like the work you have shown, the street art is breathtaking and would only add character to its surrounding environment. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I still view graffiti as art as long as they don’t do it on places that have huge historical value because then that’s just disrespectful — hence in my book, vandalism. Haha! Anyhow, I love watching street artists do their art from start to finish. Great shots!

  3. That street art is quite striking! It certainly strikes a chord and I can only imagine how much that is amplified in person! πŸ™‚

  4. Seems to me that as long as it is sanctioned by the local authority, it’s street art. Otherwise it’s simply vandalism; although some graffiti are better than supposedly some street arts that I’ve seen. But then again, art is very subjective πŸ™‚

  5. I just absolutely love street art, I would literally look for them no matter where I go. I think it is a great way for people to connect with the artists through their beautiful work. I would love to see them in action though, it would be amazing to see the process

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