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In between chicharra festivals, fabulous murals give Xcalachén new life

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Lee Steele
Lee Steele is the founding director of Roof Cat Media and has published Yucatán Magazine and other titles since 2012. Sign up for our weekly newsletters, so our top headlines will appear in your inbox each Monday and Thursday.

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Mérida, Yucatán — Xcalachén is a small, practically forgotten neighborhood in the south of Mérida that won over the public with a new bi-annual fair celebrating its famed fried pork rind.

And when the tents fold, there’s still a reason to explore the areas of Calle 95 and 64, south of the Centro: At least 20 fabulous large-scale murals created by 15 young artists hand-picked by the city.

Several neighbors gave their consent to turning their facades into canvases. Diario de Yucatán reports that some residents were surprised by the murals, however, thinking they were just getting a free paint job.

“I had no idea what it would be like, I thought they would come and paint it normal,” says Henry Magaña, whose facade today depicts a cardinal and a mestiza, applied with blended spray paint.

The artists are Paulette González Yáñez (“Poli”), Alejandro Cetina Tuz (“Nookye”), Jesus Ortiz Marrufo (“Mare”), Carlos Lopez (“Eskriba”), José Gaspar Herrera Campos (“Ache”), Rodrigo Leal Aguilar (“Loyal”), Rosaura Luna Herrera, Maria Adolfina Villegas May (“Finita”), Aldo Martín Cauich Uicab (“Literaldo “), Gustavo Uh Segura (“Ackon “), Joselín Carolina Caamal Álvarez (” Yoyosie “), José Guadalupe Góngora Pacheco (“Lurias”), Ricardo Abraham Santoyo Borges, Omar Alejandro Canto Reyes (“Yester”), Pablo José Moctezuma Méndez and Manuel Pérez (“Vanilla”), as well as “Adán.”

Each artist works freely, typically painting fauna, flora or images of Yucatán’s customs or mythology — from a beautiful Xtabay of Mayan legend, inspired by a cove model from a fashion magazine, to deer, jaguars, cardinals, mestizas and flowers. Another honors the movie icon Pedro Infante, who died in a plane crash in Mérida in the 1950s.

Diario says that some neighbors who refused to lend their facade now regret it. And homeowners with the paintings are proud that their residences stand out, often photographed by strangers.

“A couple of tourists went by a few days ago and stopped to take pictures, they took all the facades,” recalls Rosa Isabel Martín Yam, while preparing some turkey salbutes at a local restaurant.

“The truth is that now we see that a lot of people are passing by and taking pictures, and yes, the routine changed a little, Xcalachén is more alive than before,” says Henry Magaña.

One resident appreciated how the murals look after dark.

I do not know if it’s phosphorescent (paint), but at night the animals look better,” says Miguel Ángel Dzul May.

Source: Diario de Yucatán

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