Wednesday, May 29, 2013

El Ancla - The Anchor

Ruta de la Amistad

Station # 2
El Ancla - Switzerland

Willi Gutmann: 1927-

The second installment of the Route of Friendship is The Anchor.  It is 7.5 meters tall.  Originally it was painted purple with green highlights.  In 1997, the artist asked for the color to be changed to blue in order to blend in the completely transformed surroundings from what it was like in 1968.  

Driving past it, I recall liking the shape and how it resembled interlocking puzzle pieces.  I did not like the original colors, though.  I do think it looks better in blue.  But then again, blue is a color I tend to prefer.  Sometimes I thought it looked like some sort of cartoonish character.  Other times I thought it looked like a snail.  

Friday, May 03, 2013


Ruta de la Amistad

Station # 1
Señales - México

Ángela Gurría - 1929-

The first installation in the Route is a 18 meter high sculpture made up of two horn shapes colored black and white.  The colors alluded to the fact that the 1968 Olympics were the first to feature the broad participation of countries from Africa.  

This was the sculpture I saw most frequently, almost every Sunday when we went to my grandparents house.  It was placed on the overpass where we would get off the motorway.  Seeing it meant that we were close to our destination.  At the time, I did not know the name or the meaning of the sculpture, but I would try to figure it out.
Sometimes it looked like horns, at others it looked like teeth.  A few times I saw something resembling a bird.  I found it interesting how the sculpture looked very different depending on the angle you looked at it.  


Thursday, May 02, 2013

Ruta de la Amistad

In my last post, I recalled my journeys from my family's home to my grandparents' house on the other side of Mexico City.  I also have been reminiscing about my memories of the public art in Mexico.

As a child, I particularly liked driving to my aunt's house that was further south from my grandparents' house because we drove along la Ruta de la Amistad:  a large scale public art project along a 17 km route that followed the ring expressway along the southern perimeter of the city.  The project was part of the celebration of the 1968 Olympic games being held in Mexico City, where the notion of including a Cultural Olympiad along with the sporting one was put forth.  As part of the project, nineteen large artistic pieces designed and built by renown artist from around the world and measuring from 7 to 22 meters in height were placed along the route every one and a half kilometers.  These large sculptures were to be placed either on the lava beds or in the agricultural fields that are found in the area - this part of the city was not developed at that time.  Three other installations were to be placed at specific sporting venues, including the nearby Olympic Stadium and the Azteca Soccer Stadium.

When we would drive by these in the 1970s, the city had begun to expand into this area, but still seemed to be on the fringes of the urban center.  Nonetheless, I loved spotting each sculpture, seeing the small sphere that identified the country from which the artist came from, and trying to make sense of the abstract art.

Over time, these sculptures were neglected and were not cared for.  They were vandalized and eroded by the elements.  Recently, there have been efforts to restore them by having business, non-profit, and diplomatic entities "adopt" each and fund their rehabilitation.

Over then next few days I will be posting pictures of each and my memories of them.