Clay skulls in Ajijic, Mexico, commemorate the town’s dead. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

While plenty of natural beauty exists in the world, artists are contributing to the built environment via various modalities.

Something about murals especially captivate me. Perhaps it’s the large format. Maybe it’s the detail. Or it could be how the artist makes me stop in my tracks. Some works pay homage to the community they are in, or work with the architecture of the building they are painted on. Some are serious, others whimsical.

A colorful horse anchors one end of the plaza in Todos Santos, Mexico. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

On a recent trip to Mexico I was in awe of various installations—first in the Lake Chapala area and then in Todos Santos. I don’t know if in the latter I had not been paying attention before, or if there is more art today, or if it was just one of those days strolling through town on my own that I took the time to pause and appreciate what was in front of me.

Muralism is not new in Mexico. In fact, the art form has been an integral part of the country’s culture for 100 years.

Bricks cover part of a mural in Ajijic in the Lake Chapala area. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

“Mexican muralism emerged in the 1920s following the Mexican Revolution. It began as an effort by the government to unify its citizens who were living in a fractured, post-revolutionary state,” Copyright Alliance’s website says. “During this time, the Mexican government looked to restore itself by building a rich legacy of nationalism and culture through art. This movement then grew to inspire generations of artists to turn infrastructure into canvas.”

The three great Mexican artists to embrace this format include José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros.

A frog seems to leap out of the corner of a building in Ajijic, Mexico. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

While I am not one who can rattle off names of artists, I just know what I like. For public art, at least on this occasion, I was drawn to the unique and the larger works.

One in particular in the town of Ajijic on the mainland of Mexico is The Wall of the Dead on the side of a school in the center of town created by Efren Gonzalez.

The whale’s eye tells an unknown story. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Clay skulls line a wall. While this might seem morbid and off-putting, the endeavor was and is full of love. The installation is to commemorate those who have died in town. Each skull has a name of a person, with a hole under the chin where a candle is placed each November on Day of the Dead.

The large non-mural that captured me in Todos Santos was of a Pegasus horse. It seemed to be made out of scraps of metal that were somehow pieced together in a colorful array. It’s in the town’s plaza facing the church.

Two murals side-by-side in downtown Todos Santos. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The whale mural in this Baja Sur enclave got me wondering what the artist was thinking with painting in the animal’s eye an image of a girl drifting presumably in water. I’d like to know more.

That’s the thing about art—while it may not physically change, it can change based on your mood, the light, who you see it with, and a number of other factors. Art seems to always be evolving even as it sits stationary.

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