Roaming through the busy streets of Bogota, Colombia, your eyes are bound to come across some dope street art – from murals to graffiti, the city has become a hub for urban art, and a new art gallery in the city has given street artists a place to call home.
In the city´s popular La Candalaria section, filled with niche craft shops, cultural relics and colorful buildings, the all new DIBS by Colombia Culture Shock gallery, has created a unique space to house and validate the works usually canvassed on the city’s landscape.
Owner, music lover, and art advocate, Rey Garcia, was born in Buenaventura, Colombia yet raised in the U.S. only to return to Colombia years later to find a home in Bogota. His love and enthusiasm for hip hop culture and graffiti inspired his his decision to open up the two-month old gallery. More than a place for unique artwork, he wants the gallery to be a space that promotes positive social change through art as well.
After attending the World Summit on Arts and Culture for Peace in April – where he served as the personal translator for Afrika Bambaataa – Garcia was touched by the discussions on the role that art plays in conflict resolution and peace. So instead of opening a gallery for people to simply walk through and admire the creativity, he wanted the DIBS to promote community enrichment through hosting workshops, competitions, and youth programs to bring awareness to many of the social messages in the art and to allow youth in the city an artistic outlet.
In my recent visit to Bogota, I had the chance to visit the gallery, and was impressed by the diverse body of works on display, featuring messages of resistance, pain, and artistic freedom wrapped into the cultural language of Colombia. The space had a warm and inviting energy in contrast to the stereotypically stiff environment of traditional galleries. And while graffiti art has become almost more cliche than avant garde – the genuine passion of the staff proved how significant the form still is for the city’s arts scene.What I took away from the visit was not only do we have to create spaces for diverse types of art, but we also have to a duty utilize the power that art has in improving our communities.