Gay Nagle Myers
Gay Nagle Myers

I'm a fan of island art and love browsing in the shops and markets for small drawings, painted shells, watercolor prints, posters and wooden masks and sculptures.

My chats with street artists usually result in new friendships and a purchase from their table of wares.

Promoting local art and artists could be a bonanza for a destination: An opportunity to showcase another aspect of island life and help visitors feel a connection with the place.

Puerto Rico's newest initiative fits that bill.

Discover Puerto Rico, the island's destination marketing organization, in partnership with the local art community, is calling out to global artists to add to the island's booming art scene.

The Blank Canvas Initiative, a first-of-its-kind program for the country, has invited muralists from around the world to showcase their talent alongside the island's street artists on the exterior walls of buildings all over Puerto Rico, including on the island of Culebra.

Puerto Rican artist Alexis Bousquet, the founder of the annual Santurce es Ley cultural festival, alongside local artists Celso Gonzalez, Vero Rivera and Bob Snow, identified walls that could serve as huge blank canvases. "Reserved" signs painted on buildings already indicate where these murals will eventually go.

"As artists, we believe in expression, and I hope that my fellow artists around the world see this opportunity to express themselves while being a force for good," said Bousquet.

"We welcome them to our island, to take part in the art scene and to explore a place that will surely capture their hearts."

The artwork will be showcased in time for Puerto Rico's holiday season and will serve as a focal point of street festivals and the MECA Art Fair Nov. 21 through 24. After that, they'll remain in place indefinitely.

The murals will not be under wraps while the artists are working. Travelers and locals will be able to see the progress of the paintings as they evolve.

"Some areas of Puerto Rico are a true haven for mural art, yet we're not a destination typically visited for that," said Brad Dean, the CEO of Discover Puerto Rico. "Our island offers many options for travelers looking for arts and culture, from our muralists and street artists to our museums, galleries and art fairs."

Puerto Rico has more than 70 museums and 50 galleries that contain works ranging from indigenous and African to Baroque, Victorian and contemporary works of art, according to Dean.

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