Just yesterday, the annual Festa Major of Gràcia came to a fiery end with the Correfocs (fire runners) spreading sparks through the narrow streets of the neighborhood. The sea (including lots and lots of my favorite animal, the jellyfish) was a recurring theme in the decorated streets this year. Indeed, this year’s first prize winner was a brilliant under-the-sea motif featuring a giant fisherman, whose feet became the victims of vandals later in the week. In case you’re curious, here is a list of this year’s winners (in Catalan). Worth noting is that habitual winner Verdi has fallen to 7th position, with a California/Holywood-themed decor. Other themes included theatre, birthday party, a fantasy plant world, a commemoration of 20 years of participation, and women’s history.

Without further ado, here is the first installment of shots from this year’s grand festival.

Having a dog is a great excuse to get out and explore new areas of the city. My latest trips have taken me uphill, where the views of the city and the sea are marvelous, and there is also some nice street art hiding in the steep hills above the city.

The first few pictures come from the area near the Bunkers del Carmel, which served as the city’s defenses from fascist aerial attacks during the Spanish Civil War. The views are spectacular, and if you go during the week, you might be able to recapture some of the secluded off-the-beaten-track appeal. At the top of the hill you can find some walls which are painted with some murals, including one of the famous literary figure Don Quixote.

The rest of the photos are from the Vallcarca neighbourhood, which lies just next to Park Güell. This area is worth exploring as there are some interesting buildings and plazas, as well as some spectacular views of Barcelona spreading out toward the Mediterranean.

The dog days of summer are probably not the best time to explore this area as the sun seems to beat down a bit harder the higher you get, but a cloudy day in early autumn would be perfect for a climb, and besides, the pictures come out shadow-free on cloudy days.

Post number two of my NYC trip is dedicated to the street art tour I decided to take on a chilly Saturday morning. The tour was run by an outfit called Free Tours By Foot, and they run tours on all different types of themes in cities all over.

It definitely felt a bit odd, to be walking with a tour group in a city which I had called home for so many years. But considering that my interest in street art didn’t start until well after I had left NYC, it was a really great way see the city for the first time. The tour guide was a great source of information, being an artist himself, and put a lot of time and research to make the tour as educational as possible. I definitely learned a lot, and don’t feel quite so much as a layman as I did before.

The tour took us through SoHo, Little Italy, Chinatown, and scraped the Lower East Side, all areas which were a part of my regular stomping grounds when I lived there, so it was a great experience to see such familiar streets from a different point of view. The tour finishes off on Mulberry street in the slightly tacky heart of Little Italy, so I didn’t linger around for too long. Though I couldn’t resist grabbing a cannoli before moving on.

Needless to say, I definitely recommend this tour next time you’re in NYC. There are also tours of Bushwick, Astoria, and Williamsburg available. Here’s the link.

Today’s shots come from the free walls at Tres Xemeneies, near Avinguda Paral·lel, some random wanderings through the neighbouring Raval, and a new location (at least for me): the Jardins de Walter Benjamin, which are just near the Port, and mark the last frontier before the city gives way to Montjuic Park. As suggested in the title, the “gardens” themselves are nothing to marvel at, but the walls, which separate them from the playground of a local school, are the main attraction.

The Raval was full of tributes to famous faces, among them Debbie Harry, Kafka, Dennis Rodman, the late Prince, Jesus Christ (by artist sm172), and Football Club Barcelona’s favourite tax-dodging wunderkind, Neymar Jr.

As my geo-tagging feature on my camera app has become a bit unpredictable with the latest android update, my locations aren’t quite a precise as before. That said, a good wander round the Raval/Poble Sec area does a body good!

 

For my second May post (which is actually hitting in June) I’ve decided to return to Gràcia, as I haven’t posted much from the surrounding area lately. Most of these shots come from strolls around the vila over the last three or four weeks. As suggested in the title, one of the more interesting ones is a portrait of tourists as paella-wielding, selfie-sticked zombie hordes who come to invade our quiet little neighbourhood nearly year-round. This sentiment can be seen in occasional graffiti which read “tourists go home”. As a foreigner who first came as a tourist, I’m a bit torn; while I recognize that tourism is vital to our local economy, and that a good majority of tourists are well-behaved and civilized, I also know as a resident what a putada it can be having the area so constantly crowded. On balance, I’m in favour of tourism, but I think that we need to start moving toward a more sustainable model. This is what the current city administration (in theory) is going for–a city planned and built for its residents, but also welcoming for tourists. A difficult happy medium to achieve, but a noble objective, in my humble opinion.

The other shots are rather random and generally political in nature, along with some anthropomorphized popsicles from konair, and some paste ups which have been appearing with increasing frequency.

Today’s post features just a single image–well, two views of a single image–which I captured while wandering the streets of Bushwick, which has become one of the hippest neighborhoods in the hippest borough of New York City. Indeed, the streets of 2016 Bushwick were a stark contrast to the Bushwick I first encountered in 1995, when I was offered a small, ground-floor studio apartment. Had you told me then, when I paid for my soda and chips through a plexi-glass partition at the bodega that these same streets would one day be home to gastropub-cinemas and sidewalk cafés offering fair trade lattés and vegan pastries, I would have spit my Mountain Dew all over the potholed street.

Bushwick has also become well-known as a haven for some fantastic street art, which will be featured in a future post.

Today’s image is a pasteup of a young boy with his hands up, and below him the caption “don’t shoot”. It seems to be a reference to the phrase “hands up, don’t shoot”, which has become the mantra of many protests by groups such as  the Black Lives Matter movement. It is perhaps for this reason it quickly became the first photo ever on my Instagram feed to reach 100 likes. I consider this quite a milestone, as I’ve had the Instagram account for around the same amount of time as I’ve been keeping this blog, for just over 4 years.

Speaking of my instagram account, it’s a great place to check out some of the street shots that didn’t make it on to the blog, along with other non-street art related images I find along the way. My instagram name is @tbri001. Be sure to check it out!

As promised, in this post, I’ll show you the differences I found between the same spots, with a three month break in between.

The only difference is that the final photos in this post are taken from one of the Murs Lliures, which can be found on an entire city block, bordered by the streets Veneçuela, Agricultura, Josep Pla, and Pallars, a bit closer to the Selva de Mar metro station on the yellow line. Many of these pictures seem to follow the theme of climate change, and its effects on the arctic ecosystems, as the hashtags suggest. One of the principal artists involved in the effort is Pau Lopez, whose facebook page can be found here. And here is an interesting article  on the initiative from our friends at Brooklyn Street Art.

 

Back in January, I took a short trip to the Poble Nou area, which is one of the hotter spots for street art in Barcelona, due to its past as one of the city’s industrial centres: wide streets, open lots and plenty of walls for the painting. The first few photos come from a corner just north of the Parc del Centre del Poblenou, a triangular park quite close to the Poblenou metro station of the yellow metro line. The park itself is quite modern, though you can still find one of the old smokestacks which once dotted this area of the city, which has been left as a reminder of the past.

The first pictures were taken just north of the park, at the intersection of the streets Espronceda and Marroc. This looks like the shell of a building, which has been left to the mercy of painters. Don’t forget to step back and see the Roman column that was painted on the side of the neighbouring building.

The next pictures were taken at another set of walls nearby, at the crossing of the streets Selva de Mar and Peru.

In the next post, you’ll see the same areas, but three months later.

As a teacher here in Barcelona, I generally get holidays around the same time as schools and universities. One of the more important ones is the Holy Week break, which is basically spring break, culminating in Easter. This year I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and book a short trip to my old stomping ground, New York City. I had a few bureaucratic issues to take care of, but I was also quite interested in rediscovering and reconnecting with the place I had called home for so long. My departure from NYC predates my interest in street art, so exploring the streets of Gotham became one of my main objectives. I was able to snap nearly 800 shots, way too much to put into a single post.

Instead, I’ll be spreading it out over a series of posts.

This first one will be rather small, and just a small teaser.

These first shots of the late Amy Winehouse and the great Jerry Seinfeld were both found on the same East Village alleyway, while the larger than life mural in memory of David Bowie was found on Kenmare Street, on the Lower East Side.These photos are quite special to me as they highlight one of the peculiarities of living in New York: the possibility of seeing some of the most famous faces in the world going about their daily business. Any true New Yorker, outwardly, wouldn’t bat an eye at sharing an aisle at Whole Foods with Madonna, but of course we all notice, and tell our friends about it later. I suspect with the advent of mobile technology some will even dare a discreet photo.

The other three photos are also quite significant as they are two political figures which have managed to inspire more passion and engaged more people politically than I can remember. The figures are Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Both very different ideologically, but equally passion-inspiring to their followers (and detractors). Which one do I prefer? Shouldn’t be too difficult to guess…

PS: check the captions for locations

Artist credits:

Amy Winehouse and Jerry Seinfeld by SacSix

Trump the turd by hansky

David Bowie the graffiti room

 

Longtime readers may remember a post from just over two years ago which featured an outdoor public art installation called the Galeria de la Magda. It wasfound just at the end of the Via Laetana at the corner of an empty lot. As rumors of a new real estate/property bubble loom and rents being to rise once again, the walls of this lot have been fenced off by what looks like the typical materials of a construction project. It is in a prime area of town, just between the old city centre and the beach, so I’m actually quite surprised the lot remained empty for as long as it did. A bit sad, but in a vibrant, international city like Barcelona, the only thing that’s really constant is change.  There was a bit of wall left outside the fenced-in area where artists such as sm 172 have used the space to artistically air their grievances.

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