Photo Essay: The Colours of Oaxaca

Mark Stewart Photography 4 Comments

A bright blue and yellow building on a street corner

Yellow and Blue

A pretty standard-issue paint job in central Oaxaca. The contrast of blue and yellow is one of my favourite combinations on earth. I can’t get enough of this building.

A dirty blue pickup truck sits under a green tree

Accidental Street Art

North of the city centre, near the apartment we lived in, was this seemingly forgotten truck. We passed this scene almost daily whether we were heading to the grocery store, bakery, cafe, or our favourite taco stand. The truck never moved during our entire stay.
A building covered in vines

The Living House

With all of the brightly coloured buildings throughout the city, this was the only natural one we ever encountered. I don’t know if the owners used this as a unique form of art or as a less-expensive option to refurbish the face of the stones. Whatever the reason, it works!
A cobblestone street lined with colourful buildings at sunset

Sunset Strip

If you can catch the right time of day, you can find some of the busiest streets in the city nearly deserted. If you can be so lucky, you’ll see the late-afternoon sun light up the colours in that beautiful yellow hue.
An alleyway with colourful buildings on the right, and a crumbling wall on the left

Two-Tone

An interesting thing about Oaxaca is that it’s often a complete hit and miss when it comes to the colours. Nothing is mandatory and everything seems completely unregulated. This street for example, as you see on the right, the owner has brightened up their property, while on the other side, the walls are bland and crumbling.
Bright blue window frames decorated with skeletons

Storefront of the Dead

Although the skeletons add some funky character to this building, outside of the Day of the Dead festivities, these bright aquamarine window frames remain. A perfectly simple way to brighten the entire street.
A purple and orange decorated skeleton for the day of the dead celebrations in Oaxaca

Dia de los Muertos

When we first embarked on this journey, our start date wasn’t chosen at random. We flew into Oaxaca when we did to co-align our trip with the biggest local festival of the year: the Day of the Dead. Oaxaca is known as one of the best cities to experience the festivities and displays like this were widespread throughout the city.
A bright pink and green building on a street corner

Pink and Green

Another example of the wild, bright, contrasting colours you’ll see around Oaxaca. While housed in this building is nothing more than a simple stationery shop, it’s fantastic colours can be seen from blocks away!
A bright green building with graffiti on the wall

Funky House

As far as we could determine from the surroundings and rooftop garden, this is someones house. The bright teal paint is a fairly common sight around town and due to some faded spots on the wall, this house has been the colour for some time. However, the pink and yellow festive artwork was clearly a much more recent addition. Some people take their holiday decorating quite seriously here.
A girl in traditional makeup dancing against a skeleton background

Dance of the Dead

This one was from one of our first evenings in Oaxaca. All throughout the city, different performances and events were taking place for the Day of the Dead celebrations. Here, at Plaza de la Danza, we watched several shows, including this one. Due to language barriers, we didn’t completely understand the show but it was fascinating to see the display simply for the art and costumes.
A yellow brick wall with green cacti in front

The Cactus Wall

Kylee actually pointed it out one day as we were checking out some unexplored streets in our neighbourhood. Between the contrasting colours and all of the not-quite-perfect lines, this is my absolute favourite photo from Oaxaca. It might even be my favourite from our entire time in Mexico.
A dark blue and bright white building with red flowers on a tree overhanging

Red, White and Blue

This building is one of the brightest ones in Oaxaca, it must have been painted quite recently as the white was so crisp. However, what really makes this stand out are the contrasting red flowers, from the tree hanging over the wall.
A red wall with graffiti of a child releasing birds

Free the Birds

While often graffiti is in the form of bright, complex murals; other times they’re quite basic. This piece here, near a school northeast of the centre, is one of my favourites in the whole city. It’s so beautiful yet so very simple.
A cobblestone alley with colourful graffiti on the walls

Even in the Back Streets

Often the colours of Oaxaca are clear and obvious; entire buildings painted in bright, eye-catching colours. Sometimes though, you’ll find it in less obvious places, sometimes intentional, other times a combination of elements.

 

Here on a small back street leading to a tiny morning market, a little bit of everything comes together to make a colourful scene. On the right, an intricate mural; on the left a more simple, yet colourful tag contrasting the pale yellow and orange walls. Throw in some green from the trees and purple and white from the flowers, and a rather basic back alley comes to life.

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Kylee HayesThe WinesmackerJanja Recent comment authors
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Janja
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Love all the little details and how colourful it is. Mexico is on my travel list, hopefully I will get to visit soon. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Kylee Hayes
Admin

Thank you so much for checking it out! Mexico is one of our favourite places for photography and food!!

The Winesmacker
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The Winesmacker

Brings back to best memories of our trip there! Missing pics made on the cemetary though…

Kylee Hayes
Admin

We have pictures of the cemetery but there was not street art in/on anything. Maybe it was wiped off?