By Candy Pilar Godoy, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Iconic bohemian neighborhood Santa Teresa was buzzing with activity this past weekend, as more than seventy artists of varying mediums opened their doors to the public. The annual Portas Abertas (Open Doors) festival, which kicked off on July 8th and ran through July 10th, gave artists the opportunity to mingle with the general public while showcasing their work.
The popular cultural event features an array of artwork, with everything from photography, sculpture painting, toy art, and engraving included. Spectators are able to browse a circuit of workshops, laid out in a maze throughout the neighborhood, while strolling through the charming hills and streets of Santa.
“We open our doors to show our work,” explained members of Chave Mestra, the Association of Visual Artists in Santa Teresa, “to talk about it, to share our history and let our creation process be revealed, to let others see our instruments and materials, and pry into our own space.”
Exhibitions were featured in 48 different venues including galleries, cultural centers, museums, and private homes.
“It’s great because I get to see parts of Santa Teresa, both inside and out, that I’ve never seen before,” remarked one attendee, “and artists have the ability to introduce and explain their work to me. It’s refreshing.”
The annual event aims to unite artists and the general public, while showcasing various forms of local art. Santa Teresa’s artists are given the rare opportunity to personally engage with the community and bridge the gap between creator and spectator. The art, and artist, become accessible.
“[Portas Abertas] is very democratic,” observed Carioca painter Patricia Brasil. “Galleries can be elitist…this event invites the public, and grants the artist the possibility of maintaining direct contact.”
Brasil, who is new to Portas Abertas, decided to partake because of the free form interaction afforded by open doors. Her artwork depicts scenes of the daily lives of Cariocas in colorful and bold ways. “Rio de Janeiro is a multiethnic city, full of various colors and forms, with all different types and looks of people,” she said. “Our reality is color.”
To mark the opening of the event, participating artists marched in a “Cortejo do Santo Vinho” (Procession of Holy Wine) on Thursday, July 7th. The procession, which went from Rua Felício dos Santos towards Parque das Ruínas, ended with performances and a collective installations. Artists presented songs and poetry, and distributed wine to the audience.
The idea for Portas Abertas was conjured in 1996, when a group of local artists thought of a way to culturally renovate the neighborhood while building relationships among the public. The plan evolved, and their collaborated efforts birthed Portas Abertas.
Now in its sixteenth year, the festival shows no signs of slowing down. Record numbers of people pack the streets of Santa Teresa, with more artists and more artwork than ever. Revelers were also able to enjoy crafts, traditional foods, and music splayed across the streets, with three full days of color, culture, and energy.
According to Chave Mestra, “Portas Abertas is considered a reason to love this city – the city Cariocas love to have.”