Both of these shots were found in Gràcia and my way toward the city centre. The one of Tony Perkins, better known as Norman Bates, currently adorns the inside of a parking garage on a side street between the Plaça de Vila de Gràcia and the Gran de Gràcia. The other can be found just a bit further down on another easily-missed street just before Gràcia gives way to the modernist paradise known as the Eixample. It reminds me a bit of the old double exposure trick photography.
The majority of today’s shots come as a result of an initiative by the Barcelona local government and artists to create a space where street art would be allowed to flourish within the bounds of the law. The project is known as Murs Lliures, or free walls. I imagine the free walls are an attempt to reconcile the huge treasure trove of urban creativity we have here in Barcelona with an image-obsessed city council’s desire to be seen as zero tolerance toward vandalism. Whatever the political motivations, the result has indeed been some colourful concentrations of some of the city’s most talented artists. Although I do wonder if it makes it a bit too easy for those of us who spend our free time “hunting” great street art…
My new job post takes me twice weekly to the UPC (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya) campus in nearby Castelldefels, a small city nestled snugly between a long beach and the airport. The highway that runs between Barcelona and Castelldefels was once famous for its roadside prostitution (the workers are easily recognisable for their plastic chairs and beach umbrellas set up just a few metres from passing traffic) and the city itself was once a hotbed of brothels, known in Spanish as “PutiClubs” or prostíbulos. The Puti is for puta, which is Spanish for prostitute and Club because they are set up as what some American cities would call a gentleman’s club, with a less-than-discreet happy ending included in the price. In fact, a few years back there was a huge scandal involving high-level Catalan Police (Mossos d’Esquadra) taking kickbacks from some of the more lucrative clubs.
On a more positive note, Castelldefels is also home to one of the few shopping malls which is open every day of the year, and the area surrounding the city’s train station plays host to some interesting street art. I’ve posted one of my favourites here.
While checking my statistics the other day, I noticed a new referrer website. Some of them are spam clicks, one recent link was a Filipino nude livechat and others are to some email server. The one I clicked yesterday however was to a real website, called One Travel which seems to be a site dedicated to everything related to global travel. It seems you can also make flight and hotel reservations from the homepage. I didn’t have any prior warning that I would be listed, but of course I’m delighted to once again be named one of Barcelona’s best blogs. Thanks, One Travel. If you have a chance, check out the link, and the rest of the page here.
While this entry’s images are not street art in the strict sense, I do think they deserve some attention. With all the hoopla over Halloween, it’s quite easy to forget another tradition from Mexico which I find infinitely more fascinating. This tradition is the Dia de los muertos, when the spirits of the departed return to enjoy some fine food and drink with those they’ve left behind. What we see in the pictures are the altars that are constructed to honor the dead relatives along with food and drink, as they’ve built up quite an appetite spending the year roaming the other side. These creations come to us courtesy of the Cantina Machito, one of a handful of great little Mexican restaurants on the carrer Torrijos here in Gràcia. I originally stumbled upon these altars coming home from work, when there were also some musicians serenading the terrace diners. The altars are already gone, but I look forward to seeing them again next year.
You may remember the posts (both 1 and 2) that I had dedicated to the shutter-painting festival at my local market here in Gràcia. The paintings have held up surprisingly well, though there are a few blemishes to be found–a normal part of the evolution of exposed art. I did notice, walking along the far side of the building this past Sunday, that there were a few shots which I missed the first time round. So here I present, before they disappear, a few more snapshots of l’Abaceria.
This image comes from my most recent trip through the Raval-Ciutat Vella and includes a stencil by artist SM 172, a regular on this blog. Above we can also find two images which bear a striking resemblance to the famous 60s-70s model, Twiggy. Not sure if it’s actually her, but it certainly did bring back memories of my very early childhood when she was considered the (extremely skinny) peak of feminine beauty. Finally, a red, stenciled hand (or splotch?) seems to punctuate the entire scene pointing to something just off frame, as Twiggy stares up and off into the sky, which is quite difficult to see from these narrow Raval side streets…
After nearly three months free, I’ve recently returned back to my normal schedule of classes, translations and whatever other interesting projects I can pick up in between. Of course, this means that the blog-posting regularity has suffered somewhat. I have a feeling once I’ve settled into the routine of the new schools and new administrative procedures, etc, I will be able to get back to the important things. In the meantime, I leave you this image from the artist Stein, who’s already made two previous appearances on this blog. This pic, from a side street in the Raval, captures perfectly my feelings this week, including the phrase “Cats are beautiful” scrawled in the corner of the frame.
While browsing facebook back in July, I came across a few a few photos from a place called La Escocesa, which is a visual arts space that occupies an old factory building in the Sant Adrià de Besós zone of Barcelona. I sent them a message expressing my interest in snapping a few photos, and they invited me to come to their mural painting festival in late September. Due to work issues, I was only able to stop by on the final day of the festival, and just before 7 in the afternoon. As it’s late September, the light was beginning to dwindle by the time I had arrived, so I was frantically snapping away, not paying as much attention to the framing of the photos as I would have liked. In addition, many of the murals are of a much larger scale than the images I’m used to capturing on the Barcelona side streets, so it was often a struggle to fit everything I wanted into the frame. Nonetheless, I did manage to get nearly 200 photos, which I consider a pretty good number in such a short time. Here in this entry you’ll find the best of what I was able to capture. I’ll definitely plan better for the next festival.
Last month, I had the privilege of speaking to the French street art legend C215. He is most famous for his stencil paintings of different faces all over the world. (English is not his first language, so there was a bit of a language barrier.)
Where were you born and raised? How old were you when you first painted on a wall?