La Boca and the Tango Painter

To the south of the city of Buenos Aires lies one of the most photographed neighborhoods in Argentina, La Boca. It’s brightly colored buildings are so well known that people assume all of Argentina looks that way. But in fact it’s quite unique. La Boca (the mouth) sits alongside the river and gets it’s name as its the opening of the river/harbor.

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La Boca’s paint scheme isn’t the only thing that makes this area so vibrant. It’s been home to artists and tango dancers for decades. The local artists sell their works showcasing what their most known for, the tango. Stopping by to look at watercolor paintings, an artist came up and said hello. It was the end of the day and he was beginning to pack up. The old artist had a big smile and asked where about me and my friend. The conversation led from outside into his studio. Large canvases hung on the wall, paint brushes and pallets were scattered about. Stacks of art and books covered the studio. I began looking at the posters and pictures on the wall and asked if he was the man dancing in them. He was.

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Paintings by Guillermo Alio

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Guillermo Alio then shared how he’s traveled the world teaching tango and art at prestigious universities and performing in some of the most well known theaters. His most famous work is a performance art piece where a large canvas is laid on the floor and he and a partner step in wet paint and then tango. The result is a beautiful mess of steps showing the life and creativity of the passionate dance.

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Guillermo Alio and me in La Boca

The area does feel a bit like a tourist trap as most of the shops sell the same gimmicky souvenirs and every restaurant has tango dancers for entertainment. When they aren’t performing, the men or women will greet you and ask if you’d like a photo op in a tango pose.

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This dog didn’t seem too enthusiastic about his outfit.

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Note: We were recommended by locals not to walk or ride bikes from San Telmo to La Boca and instead hail a cab.

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