There’s been a bit of radio silence on the blog lately, but between the beginning of course, having fallen down the rabbit hole of blockchain technology, and of course the current political situation, I’ve been neglecting the writing. I’m working on a piece on the Catalonia situation, which changes by the hour, as well as a recap of random shots I’ve taken over the past few months. In the meantime, I leave you with a pasteup I stumbled upon on the 1 of October, the tumultuous referendum day.

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Most of my search for interesting photos of street art take place off the beaten path, on small side streets, abandoned spaces, places that don’t (or didn’t use to) show up on the tourist maps. Add to this the fact that I live my day to day, my commutes, my trips to the supermarket, my dog walks in this city, and my view of Barcelona is literally quite limited.

I am usually only reminded of the true magnificence of the “Ciutat Comtal” when I am departing or returning via air, when the aircraft makes its customary circle around the coast, and pitches slightly from one side to another, allowing occupants of window seats to see the entire city from above.

Because Barcelona is tucked between the mountains and the sea, it’s possibilities for LA, or Madrid-style sprawl are limited, so it’s possible to see the highest point of Tibidabo, and the twin Mapfre towers which dot the coast in one glance. It’s possible to appreciate the peculiar order of the Eixample (Catalan for “extension) district, the expansion that took place once building was permitted outside the old city walls in the 19th century. It is this district with its cornerless city blocks which became a playground for the architects of the Modernist movement.

All of this was only visible to me, generally, the three or four occasions a year when I needed to fly. Or perhaps from a travel blog in my social media feeds.

Now, with Modern Map Art, I’m able to look up from my work and catch a glimpse of my adopted hometown, in all its oddly shaped, organically-expanded glory. It is incredibly detailed; I can see every winding street, every orderly block, and the way that Diagonal (Barcelona’s Broadway) cuts a well, diagonal, line through the city.

Modern Maps can be found here, and the list of cities continues to grow. Perhaps your favorite city, or your hometown (if they are different) are there. I’d definitely recommend it.

 

 

The annual Festa Major de Gràcia, which takes place in mid-August, began as all the others I’ve witnessed here over the years: the week or two of frenetic preparations, the blocking of streets, the quiet buzz before the tsunami of tourists and locals that would descend upon our normally tranquil little village. However, on the 17th, which was the third day of festivities, the Rambla attacks took place, and cast a shadow on the remaining days of the festival. The Spanish president declared three days of mourning, and all the more raucous night time activities, such as concerts, were cancelled. The decorations stayed up, and the daytime, family-oriented activities continued as usual, but from Thursday evening on, there was an eerie calm in the crowds.

People still came, but the crowds were noticeably thinner, though as the initial shock wore off, more people began to make their way up.

The themes this year were varied, from the Petit Principe, to demons and devils, to rock and roll, to The Neverending Story, Ghostbusters, and the Bolshevik Revolution, to my personal favorite of any theme so far, John Waters’ Pink Flamingos, complete with a giant figure of Divine as herself, the “Filthiest Person Alive”.

This year’s winning entry was themed after a ski resort in the Pyrenees, complete with falling snow.

 

I had originally intended for this month’s second post to be dedicated to the Gràcia neighborhood festivals, highlighting the decorated streets as I do every year. Those plans were interrupted by the terrorist attacks which shook the city’s central pedestrian artery, the Ramblas. For this post, I have decided instead to post some photos I took of the makeshift memorials constructed on the Ramblas which followed the van’s deadly path down the busy sidewalks. Some of the smaller bundles of flowers mark the fallen. The memorials remind me of the ones I saw nearly 16 years ago in Union Square just after the September 11th attacks. Also included is a mural that popped up in Gràcia after the attacks.

The memorial continued to swell and grow over the two weeks following the tragedy, until they nearly overtook the wide street. My photos mark the first day and the last days, after the city sent archivists to collect and store the materials left by the thousands paying their respects.

The festivals of Gràcia continued, though with a decidedly more somber note, with many of the rowdier night activities cancelled. I managed to get some photos, which I’ll be posting in the next week or so.

Just an explanatory note about the title. The phrase “no tenim por” means “we are not afraid” in Catalan, and has become a rallying cry in the days following the attacks, being chanted in the streets.

When heading down Carrer Marina toward the sea, just across the street from the (thankfully) now-defunct Monumental bullfighting arena, you can dip into a small plaza with some basketball courts and benches called the Jardins Interior d’illa de Clotilde Cerdà. On the walls of these “gardens” you’ll find an eclectic collection of mosaic art, created by students from the escola Massana, and originate from student work which dealt with the theme of multiculturalism.

While this isn’t the typical street art, it’s a great little trip off-off the beaten track if you decide to take the hike from the Sagrada Familia down to the sea.

Italian artist TVBoy, who has gained notoriety for portraits of the Pope and Donald Trump, Messi and Cristiano, and just yesterday an embrace between deadlocked politicians Mariano Rajoy and Carles Puigdemont. My shots are decidedly less contraversial in nature, portraits of modernized masters Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso, reimagined as street artists. I’ve also decided to include two photos of myself with the masters. This dynamic duo (minus me) can be found on the Carrer de Santa Tecla, near Corsega, in Gràcia.

For those of you who watch the series Mr Robot, you might remember the season 1 finale in parking lot. A friend of mine and I were strolling down 6th Avenue in Chelsea while catching up and happened upon this familiar sight. I managed to get a few shots, but I thought this rare shot of myself below the mural would be a nice way to kick off the summer, when hopefully I’ll be posting a bit more regularly.2017-05-30 16.13.09

Last week, I made one of my twice-yearly trips to the US, with a focus on NYC and later heading to Westchester in order to attend my 20th university reunion. I stayed in my usual area, that is to say Chinatown/LES, but the walking tour I decided to try was the Williamsburg Street Art Tour, given by the great organization Free Tours by Foot. Due to the overcast, chilly weather, and the fact that the L train was unexpectedly out of service, our group was fairly small, less than 10, and usually-bustling streets of Williamsburg were relatively quiet. This made the tour better, as overcast days, in my opinion, make for better amateur picture-taking, and less activity on the streets meant we weren’t in everyone’s way as we listened to our guide.

The tour was also an interesting lesson in the history of the area, from its humble, industrial origins to the hip, gentrified neighbourhood that it is today. This is my second year in a row taking a tour with this company, and I would definitely recommend them, as the guide also gave us some pointers on other places to find interesting art Brooklyn, NYC’s biggest borough.

Just after the point where my street changes names from Bruniquer to Terol–it actually does so 4 times before finally ending–there is a dead end street/alleyway where you can find a blue doorway which has been decorated, and over-decorated constantly during the time I’ve had this blog. Saturday morning, I noticed that the artist TVboy had pasted up a giant image of Frida Kahlo dressed as a tourist, complete with an I ♥ BCN t-shirt. I snapped a quick photo, but as is often the case in sunny Barcelona, the time of day left a heavy shadow. On my way back home just two hours later, the sun had changed position , and I was hoping to get a better shadow-free shot. It wasn’t to be, however, as someone had come by and sprayed an orange cover over Frida, leaving just her eyes free. While I was a bit dismayed at not having been able to get my photo, I don’t personally see this as an act of destruction. I prefer to see it as part of the natural process, albeit quite accelerated, of what happens to art that is in the street, unprotected by vigilant museum security, alarms, glass casing, or velvet ropes.

Something similar happened to another piece by TvBoy which gained international media attention. The artist had pasted up an image of international football superstars Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo locked in a passionate kiss, just before one of the famous “Clasico” matches that take place between eternal rivals Barça and Real Madrid. It was near Plaça Catalunya, one of the most highly-traversed points in the Catalan capital. I won’t include a photo here, as my personal policy for this blog is that all photos must be taken by me, and in this case, I missed my opportunity, as not only did someone remove the image, but the entire abandoned petrol kiosk which hosted the image was removed. A bit overdramatic, in my opinion. In any case, here is a link to the Ronaldo-Messi photo, and another that was placed in Italy near the Vatican just this week of  Pope Francis and US President Donald Trump.

frida before after

Just off the Avenue Paral·lel, and very close to the free wall project Tres Xemeneies, a new project has been launched with the blog Street Art Barcelona, called Arnau Gallery. The project consists of a 15×2 metre mural space, which will be decorated by various artists. The project is named after the Arnau theatre which went through various incarnations from its opening in 1894 to its closing in 2004. Here you can find a video detailing the mural which you’ll find in the photos below, and an article from Street Art Barcelona. Here is a map link to the location.