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Seeing art in Tenerife through fresh eyes and a new view of graffiti 

I’ve moved about 20 times in my life.

When I move to a new place, for the first year or two, I have tourist eyes, looking all around, observing and enjoying everything. Then after a while, I get into a routine. The tunnel vision comes, I forget to look around, and eventually I start thinking about a new place to move to.

It’s not the place. It’s me. So how to get those tourist eyes back?

Here’s a great way: take a new look at Tenerife as a giant museum, full of great art. First visit tenerifes-treetart.org. It has a map. Pick a town like Santa Cruz. You’ve been there a few times, but what have you missed? Go there, take out your cell phone, open the map, zoom in, and find the hidden treasures shown on the map.

Do this a few times: go to Puerto de la Cruz, La Laguna, Bajamar . . . pretty soon you’ve got your eyes trained. You’re looking around for the treasures wherever you are.

You may start to re-think the question: what is good graffiti, what is bad graffiti. There are the artists, and then there are the “taggers”, who put the same scrawl wherever they can.

But it was actually this bad graffiti, the taggers of the 60s in Philadelphia and New York that got the movement started, leading to more artistic output in order to stand out in the crowd.

In the 80s, twenty-year-old Europeans with a close eye to what’s going on in African-American culture, began creating (the newly labelled) “street art”. In the 2000s, City Halls around the world discovered that it’s more worthwhile to channel this artistic energy than condemn it.

They also discovered that murals can attract tourists, So now street art festivals are blossoming, such as “Puerto Street Art”, bringing art back to the people. The more I dig, the more I realise it’s a true revolution in art. It’s no longer rectangles in the Louvre. The world is our museum now and the tickets are free.

Some of the highlights on the Tenerife map include a ruin “re/formation” by German artist Eberhard Bosslet way back in the 80s, the blossoming of urban knitting in both Santa Cruz and Puerto de la Cruz, Anoniman’s weekly words of wisdom on the highway outside Puerto de la Cruz, a colossal ruin — Hotel Neptuno — in Bajamar, and Stoiko Gagamov’s “The 100 faces of the auditorium”, and of course ongoing mural pro-jects in both Puerto de la Cruz and Santa Cruz (don’t miss the arches under the bridge).

You’ll invariably find a work by Sabotaje al Montaje at just about every Cultural Space on the island. And no one should miss Feoflip’s mural hallucinations all over La Laguna. The first mural of 2016 is huge: Iker Muro and 3ttman’s work at Pilar 45 in Santa Cruz.

So I’ll stay in Tenerife at least a few more years. I can’t leave until Santa Cruz’s two great cylinders are painted: El Tanque and the Plaza de Toros.

by Tom Strong

www.tenerifestreetart.org