Paint the Town: Urban artists boost Bogotá’s street appeal

In Colombia’s buzzing capital, urban art is booming. Thanks to Bogotá’s tolerant laws and businesses that often commission works, accomplished artists, both local and global, have converged on the city, transforming its calles into bold open-air galleries that lend insight into the country’s aesthetic and soul.

“There are a host of potent issues that inspire graffiti and street art here,” says the artist Crisp, an Australian native who relocated to Bogotá in 2009 and who serves as one of the scene’s unofficial ambassadors. Consider, he says, Colombia’s long-running civil conflict and recent peace process, the war on drugs, and “so much natural beauty found in the country’s jungles, mountains, and coasts.” What’s more, he notes, the movement represents art in its most democratic form: “It’s a free space of expression, communication, and interpretation.”

Visitors to the city who want to explore its exhibits have myriad options. In fact, “it’s almost impossible to find a street in Bogotá without some form of urban art,” Crisp says. But a good place to start is with an art walk he helped launch in the creative La Candelaria district – your travel advisor can arrange the tour as part of a customized Colombia trip. Above are a few highlights found along a path where one modern masterwork follows the next.

GO BOLDLY IN BOGOTÁ
Creative ways to explore Colombia’s capital.

SHOP
Head to the Dibs by Culture Shock Colombia gallery in La Candelaria, then hop a cab to nearby Visaje Graffiti Colombia and Beta Galería, recommends Crisp. “These places help support local artists by selling their pieces and exhibiting their work.”
 
SEE
Big Five Tours & Expeditions works with your advisor to craft tailor-made Colombia experiences that include creating urban art in the capital with local grafiteros. A must for art enthusiasts: the company’s 16-day graffiti-focused journey that also visits Guatemala and Argentina.
 
STAY
Mix with city hipsters at W Bogota Hotel’s W Lounge, which serves cocktails infused with indigenous ingredients and fresh beats spun by a resident music curator. Located in the Santa Barbara business district, the 168-room hotel also features Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s greatest hits in its farm-to-table Market Kitchen. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 spa credit.
 
Sidewalk bistros and upscale shopping surround the 64-room Four Seasons Hotel Bogotá in pedestrian-friendly Zona T. Inside, an oxygen-infused fitness center helps guests acclimate to the city’s altitude – and build an appetite for Japanese dishes with a twist at Kuru (try the Bluefin tuna tostadas). “G” is for gastronomy in nearby Zona G, home to top restaurants and the 62-room Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina Bogotá, a cultural monument with a tapas bar, a leafy courtyard, and native spa treatments (think Colombian green coffee wrap). Virtuoso travelers at both hotels receive breakfast daily and a $100 hotel credit. 

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