These days, the old port area of Rio de Janeiro is packed with visitors enjoying a new public space called the “Boulevard." The Boulevard area is a pathway that passes by the Museum of Tomorrow and Rio de Janeiro Museum of Art. Yet despite all the amazing art behind the doors of these museums, it's possible to see great art without stepping inside.
The once-dilapidated and largely unused port area has been transformed into an outdoor art gallery. And some of Brazil's top artists have contributed to the scene. A dedicated Instagram account, @InstawalkRio, helps visitors and locals navigate the dazzling public installation.
Here are some of the highlights of what you'll see in the streets in Rio and other parts of Brazil during the Games:
São Paulo graffiti artist Eduardo Kobra took street art to another level for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Along the Boulevard, Kobra has painted a massive mural in pursuit of the Guinness World Record for largest public mural. A blast of colors nearly 3,000 square meters large, and 190 meters long, the piece is called Etnias, which means “ethnicities" in Portuguese. In his trademark colorblock style, Kobra painted five large faces on the wall, each representing an indigenous culture from a different continent, a nod to the global scale of the Olympics (see above).
Brazilian artist Rita Wainer has made her mark, as well, and on a large scale. On the side of a large parking garage, whose lettering has dropped off, she has painted the image of a woman with long black hair that seems to blow across the garage's walls (pictured above).
Vik Muniz created an art piece called Rumpled Uniform that resembles wrinkled paper covering the side of a building. Muniz is most famous in Brazil for an artpiece he did on Rio's trash pickers, which turned into a documentary film titled Wasteland.
The street art in Rio's port area is not strictly static. Paulinho Sacramento has designed a projected video art piece, which appears every night after sunset on a large building overlooking the Praça Maua, beside the Boulevard. The 3D images draw in viewers night after night.
Beyond the Boulevard area, French artist JR installed a massive image of a 27-year-old Suydanese high jumper amid scaffolding atop a building in the residential neighborhood of Flamengo. The black-and-white image appears 3-D and cooly competes with the Christ statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro. And near the beach of Barra de Tijuca, where the Olympic Park is located, JR has installed another massive black and white image on scaffolding, this one depicting an athlete diving into the ocean.
Along the Boulevard, JR also made his mark for the Games. There, alongside Kobra's work, he has layered a wall and a plaza with blown-up black and white photographs of hundreds of Brazilians. These Brazilians waited in line for hours to have their photograph taken; they're now rewarded with seeing thousands of Olympic visitors pass by, and even step on their photographed faces everyday.
American sculptor Anthony Howe has captured fans' hearts with his spiraling wind sculpture in front of Candelaria church near downtown Rio. Reflecting gold against the sun's rays, the kinetic sculpture mesmerizes and somehow seems to make time slow down for the viewer. You probably saw Howe's work during the opening ceremony, when it appeared behind the Olympic torch cauldron, reflecting the flame in spirals.
Artists have even installed public art works outside of Rio for the Olympics. Japanese artist Mariko Mori went deep into the forests of Brazil's “Green Coast", which runs between São Paulo and Rio. There, atop a large waterfall, he has constructed a blue ring, meant to symbolize the connection between Rio and future Olympic host city Tokyo.
And though they weren't built for the Olympic Games, there are two iconic public art spaces you shouldn't miss if you are in São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. In São Paulo, the Beco do Batman is an alleyway covered in high quality graffiti art, and in Rio, the Selaron staircase (pictured above) is a colorfully tiles climb up Rio's hills that shouldn't be missed.