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Cultural exchange unites street artists from Buenos Aires and Baltimore

Cultural exchange unites street artists from Buenos Aires and Baltimore
Artists Pablo Machioli, left, and Alfredo Segatori during a break from painting a mural in Woodberry (Matt Fox-Tucker/BA Street Art)

Baltimore's street art scene is even more vibrant than usual this week.

A cultural exchange called "Roots/Raices" has brought together local and Latin American street artists to explore social and racial issues. The most visible component is a big, bold mural by Argentine Alfredo Segatori and Uruguayan-born, Baltimore-based Pablo Machioli on the wall of a former tire factory in the Woodberry neighborhood along the Jones Falls.

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"Roots/Raices" was conceived by Matt Fox-Tucker of Buenos Aires Street Art and Richard Best of Section1, a Baltimore-based organization that supports urban art projects. Gallery 788 is also a participant in the project.

"What interests me in particular with street art in Baltimore is that it feels really connected to the community," Fox-Tucker said. "It is a form of protest, if you like, but it's also about trying to bring communities together. Street artists in Buenos Aires can relate to what's happening here. There were lots of situations in the past in Argentina with discrimination against indigenous tribes, and it's still happening."

The new mural, which took three days to paint and was finished Monday, depicts a rendering of the recently unearthed species of early human, "Homo naledi."

"Alfredo Segatori felt pretty strongly about expressing what's going on in society," Fox-Tucker said.

In a statement, Segatori said he considered the mural "like a mirror to look back at our roots, where we came from," as well as "to show the reality of the society that we live in," a world where "there is still a lot of violence and intolerance."

Complementing the mural is an indoor exhibit of new pieces by Baltimore artists Gaia, Billy Mode, Nether and Lee Nowell-Wilson. In addition to Segatori, who is credited with painting the largest street mural in Latin America, Argentine artists in the exhibit include Nazza Stencil, El Marian (represented by a Freddie Gray-related painting of a Baltimore police fan in flames) and Maxi Bagnasco.

If all goes well, a second cultural exchange next year will find Baltimore street artists creating art on buildings in Buenos Aires and exhibiting works in a gallery.

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