Los Muros Hablan NYC

I first met Viajero this past summer while he was fashioning a mural on East 111 Street for Los Muros Hablan NYC. I became an instant fan of his distinct aesthetic. A few months later, I caught up with him at the Julia De Burgos Cultural Center for its Dia De Los Muertos 2013 art exhibit.

"Adrian Viajero Roman"

When I came upon you at work on your mural for Los Muros Hablan, you mentioned that it was your first time painting in the streets. What was it like? Would you do it again?

It was a great experience. I loved working in a public space where I could interact with folks who passed by.  Some stopped simply to observe, and others asked questions. And it was wonderful to have the opportunity to bring my vision to the streets of East Harlem – where my grandparents lived when they came from Puerto Rico. And, yes, I would love to do it again.

Could you tell us something about the Diaspora Mural? Who does it depict? What does it represent?

The subject of the mural is a young boy from Puerto Rico.  The traditional mask that he is wearing symbolizes his cultural roots. Although I grew up here in NYC, I’m particularly interested in the immigrant experience and the notion of identity.

"The Diaspora Mural"

Your work is quite amazing. Do you have a formal art education?

When I was 12, I began taking specialized lessons at the Pratt Institute. I attended the Arts Students League of New York at age 18.  I then earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the New World School of Art in Miami, Florida and a second BFA in Graphic Design from the New York Institute of Technology here in NYC.

Was all this formal training worthwhile?

I would say so.  I have my own distinct style, but the art education I received drew it out of me and helped me refine it. Yes, my formal training was worthwhile.

Have any particular folks inspired you?

My grandfather was a painter. I have great admiration for him. He taught himself how to read and write in three different languages.  My brother is a sculptor, and my uncle is an architect. I grew up among folks who inspired me.

"Adrian Viajero Roman"

What about cultures?  What are some of the cultures that have influenced you?

I’ve traveled extensively through Africa, the Caribbean and Central America. I feel most connected to culture when spending time in countries and cities that hold onto their indigenous traditions. It is these indigenous cultures that have been my primary influence. I acknowledge and honor my indigenous roots in my artwork.

Have you exhibited your work in gallery settings?

Yes. I’ve shown my work in solo and group shows in the United States and in Puerto Rico.

How has the “art world” responded to you? Has it been receptive to your vision? 

It has been. I feel that I’ve been able to find my own corner.

"Adrian Viajero Roman"

Any favorite artists?

My grandfather. He used to paint on coconuts falling from trees.  Swoon is a particular favorite among street artists. And I love Whittfield Lovell – his portraits and his installations.

How has your work evolved — particularly in the past few years?

I’ve become increasingly engaged with the community.

Have you any particular theme that you attempt to convey in your work?

I’m interested in memory — in preserving it — especially in relation to our struggles. I like giving new life to found objects that embody cultural memory.

What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

For myself as an artist – it is to offer experiences to people that take them out of their comfort zone. I want folks to think and not blindly follow trends.

And we certainly look forward to seeing your vision on our streets again! 

Interview by Lois Stavsky; photo of Viajero on East 111 Street by Dani Reyes Mozeson; photo of completed Diaspora Mural courtesy of the artist; final two photos of artwork at the Julia De Burgos Cultural Center by Lois Stavsky


Based in Córdoba, Argentina, Elian fashions mesmerizing abstract compositions on huge walls. In late summer, Los Muros Hablan brought Elian and his sumptuous style to the South Bronx. While he was here in NYC, we had the opportunity to meet up.

When and where did you first get up?

Ten years ago. I was 15 when I started tagging and bombing in Córdoba.

What inspired you at the time?

My friends were doing it, and so I tried it.  I’m dyslexic, and I had always struggled with writing. But with a spray can in hand, it felt right. It was the first time I ever felt at home writing.


How does your family feel about what you’re doing?

Everyone is supportive. My mother bought me my first spray can.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

All of it.

Do you have a formal art education?

I studied graphic design. But I don’t like “institutions.”

Do you work with a sketch in hand, or just let it flow?

I always work with a sketch in hand.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?



How has your art evolved through the years?

It evolved from 3d graffiti to flat images. One can go only so far with graffiti.

When you look back at what you did two years ago, how do you feel about it?

It was too limited. There wasn’t enough concept behind it.

What other cities have you painted in besides those in Argentina?

I’ve painted in Berlin, Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Santiago and Lima. And in the U. S. in Miami, Atlanta, and here in New York City.

Have you a favorite city?

Lima. I loved the food and the people.


What is the riskiest thing you ever did?

Painting trains, climbing heights and living every day.

What inspires you these days?

City life. Everything I see. The garbage, broken pavement…NYC is amazing!

Are there any particular cultures or movements that have influenced your aesthetic?

Pop-art, Russian constructivism, neo-plasticism, minimalism.

Have you any favorite artists?

Among my favorite artists who paint in public spaces are MOMO, Jaz, and El Tono. Other artists I love include Sol LeWitt, Mondrian and Pablo Siquier.


How do you feel about the role of the Internet in this movement?

It’s a necessary tool, as it allows us to see what others are doing, and it gives me an opportunity to get my work out to a larger audience.

What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

I think of the artist as a cultural engine, an agent for change. The artist initiates a dialogue between the city’s walls and its inhabitants.

How do you feel about the role of the photographer and blogger in all this?

I like it. It creates additional opportunities for artists to reach people. It is necessary for our culture.


How does the street art culture here in NYC differ from the one back home in Buenos Aires 

Back home, you generally don’t need permission to paint. People are grateful to you for sharing your talents with them. Here everything is a business. Back home, people are more interested in ideas.

How do you feel about the movement of street art to galleries and museums?

I’m not sure how I feel. My gallery is the city. And it is the most democratic place for me to share my work.

What’s ahead?

Working hard at my craft, engaging in huge public projects and giving back to the community.

Interview by Lois Stavsky; photos courtesy of the artist

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From August 19 – August 25, Los Muros Hablan, an international urban arts festival, gave a voice to silent, empty walls in East Harlem and the South Bronx. Presented by La Repuesta, a leading Puerto Rican cultural space, Los Muros Hablan NYC, featured a wonderfully eclectic group of global artists.

Axel Void, 201 East 103rd Street in East Harlem

Axel Void

Pastel, 138 Street & Grand Concourse in the South Bronx — close-up from huge mural captured via instagram


Celso Gonzalez and Roberto Biaggi, 54 East 116th Street in East Harlem

Celso Gonzales and Roberto Biaggi

Viajero, 2022 Third Avenue in East Harlem



Rimx,154 East 100th Street, as seen in progress last week


Betsy Casañas, 1664 Park Avenue in East Harlem

Betsy Casanas

LNY, 195 East 100th Street in East Harlem


Jufe, 2018 Third Avenue in East Harlem


Elian138 Street & Grand Concourse in the South Bronx


Photos by Dani Mozeson & Lois Stavsky; keep posted to our Facebook page for more images of the completed murals from this week-long Los Muros Hablan NYC event presented in collaboration with Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito and El Museo del Barrio.