Rome Travel Guide

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Friday, November 4, 2016

Quadraro: Street Art Center of Rome's Southeast

In the piece above, street artist Mauro Maupal depicts an unhappy she-wolf, biting her tail over the departure of her adopted children, Romulus and Remus--the mythic founders of Rome--each with a roller-bag, headed for what they imagine to be cities of greater opportunity, or perhaps more cultural depth: Berlin, Dublin, London, and Paris.  (The title "esodati" suggests the artist's own, somewhat different interpretation; it refers to workers penalized by the 2011 Italian pension reform, here seeking cheaper European destinations).

Buff baby with Mickey, by Ron English
We wouldn't begrudge anyone an artistic residency in Berlin, especially, but Rome has recently become a world center of wall-size street art, and Quadraro, incredibly, is one of its key nodes.  The Romulus and Remus piece is just one of many (at least 15, as many as 30) street art productions in this near-in suburb just southeast  of the city, with a small-town feel, that spans both sides of the busy Via Tuscolana,  Most, though not all, of Quadraro's open-air art collection is located on the east side of that major thoroughfare, and a substantial portion is concentrated within a few blocks.  You'll see a lot in half an hour and feel more than satisfied after just an hour of strolling.

We would begin with the short tunnel that goes under Via Tuscolana between Via Decio Mure (on the west) and Via Lentuli (on the east).  The west end features a big mouth, teeth and all, sucking in street signs, plants, umbrellas, dishes, whatever--into what used to be blackness (the interior of the tunnel is now white, perhaps to encourage pedestrians, who might otherwise be intimidated by the darkness).  The artist is Mr. Thoms.  The other side of the tunnel isn't quite so powerful.
Tunnel attracts locals
Now on the east side of the highway, the supporting wall for Via Tuscolana offers an array of worthy art.  Dilko's girl--the one with mini-mouse ears--attracted our attention.  Colors go in one ear, black and white (and hardware of various kinds) out the other.  She 's got something in her hand that she seems to be cranking, but what it is we don't know.  We also liked one of the minor pieces, a rough-cut look at a mouse and the hole he lives in--just to the Dilko girl's right.  .

Channeling Modigliani 
The neighborhood in back is full of surprises, all within a few blocks, including Jim Avignon's sensuous, and mostly undressed, woman done in 1930 style (on Via Dei Pisoni); a bulked-up, ripped, green baby surrounded by popular culture icons, including Mickey in a gas mask; and some frogs gorging themselves on what appear to be glass beads but may have some link to computer programming, given the ones and zeros on the banner above; a lovely new-age design, anchored by a tree; and "The Departure of Romulus and Remus," with which we opened this post.  .

Somewhere on our trek (wish we could remember where!) we came across a large map--once apparently distributed--with locations and artists of some of the works.  For what it's worth, here it is. The Xs mark the location of art works.  You can also locate the works using the app: streetartroma (also listed in the app store as Streetart Rome).   The app is much better than the web site, and you can use the app is quite understandable as a map - and it's in English.

Street artist Alessandro Sardella decorated the facade of an automobile repair shop.

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