On Jan. 10, artist Jorge Selarón was discovered dead not far from the Rio de Janeiro stairs that had become an environmental masterpiece he has been working on for the past two decades.
According to the Associated Press by way of ABC News, the installation is located in the artsy Brazilian neighborhood of Lapa in which Jorge lived. Because of his creativity, this work of art has turned into a vibrant Brazil landmark for which the artist, who originally hails from Chile, put in endless hard work while adding in his skilled touch, causing the 215 steps and their immediate surroundings to be transformed into a place of timeless beauty.
Although the iconic stairway and associated alley were in devastating disrepair when discovered by Selarón, this particular backdrop was said to be the canvas for this talent's life's work.
Sadly, according to the AP, local Brazilian police found his body "in front of his house." The news source described that abode as "one of the humble colonials that flank the staircase as it ascends into the St. Teresa Convent above."
On Thursday, the stunning art piece that doubles as a stairway known as the Lapa stairs, has turned into a massive memorial.
Since discovering the beloved artist who wore signature mutton chops had passed away, locals and visitors alike have reportedly dropped by to leave mementos of remembrance, including flowers. These same people have also been doing their best to light candles in memory of Jorge Selarón but keeping them lit has been challenging since Rio has been experiencing rain and wind ever since Jorge Selarón's body was discovered.
By way of background, the very place where his admirers morn the artists' loss was turned into a city landmark about eight years ago when Jorge was dubbed an honorary Carioca, the common name for a Rio local.
Selarón started to create his masterpiece back in 1990 when he put porcelain bathtubs along the stairs' edges to be used as decorative planters. He also installed thousands of colorful tiles on the steps to spruce them up. This took time, not only because the project was laborious but also because Jorge Selarón was lacking resources.
To help, one man would supply tiles when he traveled, bringing back contributions from Spain and Holland to give to Selarón for his project. Later, as the environmental installation started to take shape, visitors to this artistic shrine would contribute whatever they could to the effort. Today, the stairway contains all sorts of tiles that depict everything from a Buddha to Bob Marley.
Some contributors to this impressive effort were complete strangers who supported the work of this great talent who, sadly, was found dead in Rio near the stairs he had creatively transformed into a huge work of tantalizing art. More details on the passing of Jorge Selarón, who was born in 1947, are forthcoming as cause of death, although seemingly suspicious, has not been released.