The hard-to-find street art of Cusco, Peru

Parrot mural and live donkey, San Blas, Cusco, Peru photo

A donkey ignores a mural of a haughty parrot on a crumbling wall

While nearly every block in Lima, Peru had street art in the form of stencil, a mural, or tag, in Cusco, street art is a rare thing.

Most of the town has been cleaned up for the tourists. That or all the frustrated creative types are too busy hawking the tacky paint-by-number-style “art” in Plaza de Armas to find time to spray a little color around.

Stencil of a Native American and horse, San Blas, Cusco, Peru photo

Stencil of a Native American on a horse seems to charge into Cusco from above.

But every so often, we discover a touch of color, an emotional bunch of lines, a little spark of contemporary creative energy creeping out.

Bull street art and Todd, Cusco, Peru

Todd poses with a tag of a (probably) bull in Cusco, Peru.

Street art is controversial — the debate over whether graffiti is art or nuisance, beauty or blight is one I won’t be able to resolve. Though you can easily guess where I stand from the volume of street art I photograph while I travel.

Stencil street art of Peruvian taking a tourist's photo, Cusco, Peru photo

Stencil street art of Peruvian taking a tourist’s photo

Art on the walls of a town proves to me that artists live there. The quality of the art, and what the artist is trying to convey with it, may be lacking. But street art is a sketch book open for all to see. No locked door when a gallery closes for business can keep me — or anyone — from seeing what someone thought was worth expressing.

Even if it kinda sucks.

Groove monkey mural on a van, Cusco, Peru

Groove monkey mural on a van in Cusco.