Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rio de Janeiro... A Visual Treat Walking Through Santa Teresa

The Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) statue overlooks the entire city of Rio de Janeiro. From the favelas (slums) to fancy skyscrapers. Under the watchful view of the Cristo is the artsy neighborhood of Santa Teresa.
Santa Teresa is nestled on a hillside. To the south is the Zona Sul.
To the north is the bridge to Niteroi.
To the east is the Centro (Center).
To get around Santa Teresa, there is a street tram (currently under renovation).
But I thought the best way to get around the neighborhood would be to walk along the cobblestone road.
 There were all kinds of interesting buidings in the area.
 Intricate workmanship.
 Large houses.
 Small houses.
Gateways.
 With amazing surprises inside.
 Walk up this staircase.
And you will come across the workshop Atelier Chamego Bonzolandia.
 It might look a little bit messy at first glance.
But if you look at it with the eyes of a child.
 You might think that it is pure genius.
 It just takes a little imagination to see the beauty.
A common doorway.
 With uncommon detailed tile work.
 There were some classic neighborhood botecos (bars) like this one called Bar do Gomez.
They served a variety of local beers, spirits and wine to quench one's thirst.
And there was a selection of salgados (appetizers) to satisfy one's appetite.
But people really come to botecos just to talk and spend time with one another.
A beer and some banter.
 A traditional setting.
 The door is always open.
 There were some cultural centers in the neighborhood.
 And some museums.
 Santa Teresa was a crossroads of people, architecture and art.
 Lots to look at.
 Even if it is just the local police doing what they do.
Catching up with the news.
There were some old churches.
An old movie theatre.
Some whimsical sculptures made of junk.
Pieces of iron and steel assembled into art.
Lifelike.
Two figures.
Perhaps telling us which way the wind blows.
 There was an old tram station painted with graffiti.
One artist's interpretation.
As I descended the hill from Santa Teresa, I walked down this staircase. At first glance, one might think that it was just a normal staircase.
But if you look at it from a different perspective you will be provided with a treat. This is the Escadaria Selaron.
Colorful tile work on a common staircase.
 That curves around and down.
 Look closely.
 There is so much detail.
 So much to see.
This is the work of an artist... the art of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón... who claimed it as "my tribute to the Brazilian people".
I sat down and contemplated a little bit. I just spent an afternoon walking within, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Rio.
However, in front of me was a reminder of what Rio de Janeiro faces. In 2014 the Copa do Mundo de Futsal (World Cup of Football/Soccer) will take place in Rio. There is a great deal of preparation and promotion for the event. But in front of the hype... there are some real serious social issues that confront Rio. What will the future bring?