LIKE ‘ÉM OR HATE ÉM, Panama’s Diablos Rojos have played a role in the county’s cultural history, and are on the brink of being immortalized in the world’s biggest street art museum.
The recycled U.S. school buses were introduced to Panama by General Oma Torrijos, to break up the existing transport monopolies and to give small businessmen the opportunity to compete.
They became the prime means of public transit linking Panama to Colon and Chorrera and all stops in between.
They provided not only a means of transportation for workers and the occasional adventurous tourist, but a mobile canvas for artists hired by enthusiastic owners seeking not only to outpace, but outshine competitors.
Locally trained artists like Andres Salazar Oscar Melgar. Jesus Javier Jaime, Monchi Hormi, Rolando Gonzalez, Justin Fernandez Victor Reyes, Cesar Cordoba and Danillo Villarrue proudly displayed their signatures on their works on the traveling art shows.
The buses became a promotional tool for the tourism board and targets for local and visiting camera buffs.
The artists used themes featuring religious images, pop and Hollywood stars, local culture, and even political hero’s to create mobile art galleries often enhanced by flashing lights and dangling baubles.
But Amsterdam plans to perpetuate their memory in the Steet Art Museum and is looking for a suitable vehicle ideally by the grand master Salazar.
He worked on creating and applying designs for over 40 years after graduating from art college. He died a year ago.
The Museum i s being developed on the NDSM-wharf in the north of Amsterdam.
With 6500 square meters it will be the biggest Street Art Museum in the world.
Artists from around the globe are arriving to paint enormous canvasses ranging from 10 square meters up to 160 square meters.
“Street artists create the most amazing and refined pieces of art which are subject to transience and the museum brings some permanence in this volatility. says spokesperson Ilja de Leeuw.
“And just like street art it isn’t confined to walls, our collection includes more than canvasses,”
“We want to include a Diablo Rojo, ideally painted by Andres Salazar in the collection because we believe it to be a street art jewel and see it as our duty to conserve one of these endangered pieces of art.
“Please help us find an original Salazar!”
De Leeuw discovered the work of Salazar via a short documentary which was first shown at the appropriately named gallery cum eatery in Casco Viejo. Diablo Rosso,
The film was made by a London ad agency creative director, Foin McLaughlin from Wexford (Ireland).
Meanwhile the search is on. If you see a diablo rojo that you might think qualify for shipment to Holland, or better still one with a Salazar signature, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org