Spring semester schedule changes have made it more difficult for me to post this month, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still on the lookout. I captured these two images here in Gràcia. One of them, as the title suggests has been around for a few years now, and is continuing to survive, despite the harshest of the elements, the test of time.
Cities are often referred to as concrete jungles and the metaphor isn’t entirely inaccurate, as the winding streets and sometimes wild, unpredictability of the urban landscape can sometimes feel like the amazon. In Barcelona, most of the street art that’s left can be found in the old city centre, which I would refer to as a cobblestone jungle, a gridless, touristy labyrinth of the few old-time business mixed in with the overpriced boutiques and occasional chain shops. It’s here that I’ve found some of the more interesting beasts that I post on this blog. While today’s image by C215 comes from Gràcia, there is no shortage of feline-themed art to be found hiding in the cobblestone jungle.
Fresh from my trip to the East Coast of the USA, I wanted to make a short run down to the centre of Barcelona to see if there was anything new on the downtown walls. I inadvertently chose the first day of “rebaixes” (Catalan for “sales), which also coincided with the final days before the 6th of January, the Epiphany, or better known here as King’s day, when the three kings, instead of Santa Claus bring children their most anticipated Christmas gifts. As a result, I spent a bit less time wandering the unusually crowded streets than usual.
I was, however, able to find these three shots: the first one of what seems to be a child soldier framed within an Iphone, with a web address which leads to this website. The other image is of a woman who might be posing as a fashion model in a rather monstrous shade of green. Finally, the other is a colourful cartoon bird.
My annual trip to NYC this year left me little time to snoop around for interesting street shots as my hotel was in the financial district and I had cut my stay back by one day compared to last year. I spent most of my time rediscovering the streets of lower, lower Manhattan which I had only visited a handful of times in my years living there. I hit Wall St., dodged gawking tour groups and vendors hawking homemade memorial booklets near the 911 memorial pools and had some good old American Chinese at one of my all time favourites, Wo Hop. I also took detour down Mulberry Street, the so-called Little Italy, where I weaved between waiters standing outside the mediocre restaurants trying to entice hungry tourists, pastry shops with petrified cannoli proudly on display and the odd Italian-themed New York (read Guido/Jersey Shore) souvenir stands. An all-around festival of tackiness. But among the ruins, I was able to find some interesting murals, including a larger-than-life Audrey Hepburn and a door-sized work from Alice Pasquini. The title of this post is of course a tribute to one of the first books I was read, and later read, as a child, a great poem by Dr. Seuss which details a little boy’s fantastic walk down a rather ordinary street.
The image of this entry was found in the heart of the Born which during the spring and summer months is overflowing with tourists experiencing the pleasure of getting lost (and hopefully not robbed) in the shady medieval maze which crisscrosses throughout the area between the Via Laetana and carrer Comerç, just before arriving to Ciutadella park. These days, I find fairly little new work on these streets, having lost myself in these streets hundreds of times over the last few years. At the end of October however, I stumbled upon this pasteup, which seems to be inspired by the work of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. In it, we find a panicked woman, her face in a pair of beastly blue hands saying “Güelcom guiris, bye bye Barcelona”, which is a Spanish-ization of the words Welcome and “guiri” which is how the locals refer to the foreign tourists who descend upon the “ciutat comtal” in ever greater numbers every high season. The word “guiri” itself is supposedly a Spanish-ization of the words “where is…” which is a common phrase heard by locals when stopped by foreigners in search of Gaudí, Picasso, or the beach. Bye bye Barcelona seems to be a reference to a documentary of the same name, which criticises the management of tourism in Barcelona in which local culture, businesses and residents are taking a backseat to visitors and their money.
I’d also like to extend my gratitude to two other blogs in which I am listed, Devour Barcelona Food Tours, and Velvet Compass. Both of these blogs should appeal to anyone interested in exploration and travel and are definitely worth a look.
I recently made a journey back to one of the city’s “free walls” projects near the Torre Agbar and was rather surprised to see it nearly three-quarters of the way demolished. I’m not sure whether it will be coming back or if it will be making way for yet another high-rise hotel. There are also a few shots from the surrounding area, including the huge mural with the clown. I think this mural may have been placed by “okupas”.
This pasteup of a group of older women confronting a policeman is up in a few places around Gràcia, and I suspect it’s related to recent demonstrations of support for the Banc Expropriat. I chose to post this particular version as it was well-placed, just below the high electrical tension warning sign.
Whether the message was a coincidence, tensions indeed are running high these days due to the recent November 9 vote in which 2 million people here in Catalonia defied the Spanish government and went ahead with an informal vote on their independence. The “double yes” enjoyed a resounding victory, much to the delight of many in Madrid.
There is also renewed tension springing from some residents’ disapproval of the presence of so many hostels and tourist accommodations in the village-like neighbourhood.
Whatever the source of the unease on the streets, the next year or so should prove quite interesting indeed and provide more than a few opportunities for artists to express themselves on the streets.
On my way back from checking out a work in progress at the Tres Xemeneies near Paral·lel, I stumbled upon this cat by stencil artist C215 in, as the title would suggest, a small alley. Unfortunately, while I have an internal street map pretty much engraved on the inside of my skull, I neglected to label them. But then again, the hunt is half the fun.
This year’s teaching timetable brings me to the neighbouring city of Badalona, a 20-minute metro journey from the Sagrada Familia. I had only ever passed through on the train, which doesn’t provide a very good view of this huge suburb. Even now, the place where I have my evening classes takes me nowhere near the Badalona waterfront, where one can now find a statue which pays tribute to the Anís del Mono (Monkey brand anisette), one of Badalona’s most famous exports. Despite the lack of maritime views, I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few painted walls in the area surrounding the Pep Ventura metro station. It’s an otherwise unremarkable zone, a typical residential neighbourhood that can be found througout the Barcelona metropolitan area, but definitely worth a trip if you’re running out of things to photograph in the usual places.
These shots come from a small space in Gràcia called the Jardí del Silenci (the garden of silence). This “garden” is an empty lot, where there once stood a convent. The space has now been converted into a small garden, cafe and performance space. I was lucky enough to have been brought there during the annual Festes de Gràcia, and indeed it was a nice bit of (relative) peace and quiet during the otherwise frenetic vibe that overtakes the neighbourhood during the street festivals. These are some shots from the walls of the space, which have been decorated by some artists whose work can be found all over the streets of Barcelona.