Heading to Rio? Try The City’s Newest — And Most Dangerous — Art Gallery!

Vila Cruzeiro is a dangerous shanty town (or favela) in the heart Rio. How dangerous is it? Recently, military policemen launched an assault on the favela, killing at least 6 “suspects” and wounding several civilians. Teens roam the area with grenades hanging from their shorts. In 2002, the favela saw a Brazilian journalist get dismembered and incinerated by local drug traffickers. The area isn’t nice.

However, the area is getting prettier, thanks to Jeroen Koolhaas — a Dutch illustrator — and Dre Urhahn — an art director from Amsterdam. Together with several local residents, they’ve recently completed the first “installation” associated with their Favela Painting Project. Ultimately, Koolhaas and Urhahn (who hope to attract other muralists from around the world) will design and implement what promises to be one of the world’s largest, and most unique, outdoor “organic museums.” The best part: free admission!

According to Koolhaus, “By making huge paintings in the favelas we hope to inspire the kids … to pursue a career in a creative field… Our final goal is to paint a whole hillside favela depicting one single image.” Imagine: rather than a hillside of dull corrugated aluminum, there will be a hillside of vivid colors and never-ending possibilities. If you want to learn more about Rio’s favelas, check out the Koolhaas- and Urhahn-produced video after the jump.