I wasn’t sure if I should stop by São Paulo before starting my job in Rio—I mean, I always wanted to visit one of the greatest centers of urban art in the world, but the only contacts I had there were some artists that I had met very briefly last year at an event they were participating in in the US. Would they even remember me? But my doubts were laid to rest when they not only remembered me but ended up being the most hospitable hosts ever! They invited me to stay at their houses, took me to a poetry and music event, showed me the modern and rich city center as well as the gritty favelas, introduced me to community social projects and invited me to participate in two graffiti and street art festivals, where I painted three pieces alongside amazingly talented local artists—all in 4 days!! Nope, didn’t sleep much but I left full of inspiration! São Paulo may not have tropical beaches and beautiful views like Rio does, but it makes up for it with world-class culture everywhere you go.
One of my favorite experiences was painting with the graffiti crew OPNI, who have created an arts and social project in a favela in the São Mateus neighborhood, where they are creating an amazing “outdoor gallery” of graffiti in which all the houses in the community are being painted by local and visiting artists.