Archives for category: catalunya

The artist Joel Arroyo has been decorating surfaces around my neighborhood of Gràcia (see the Frida Kahlo entry below) for nearly a year now, and just a few weeks back he painted the shutters of the “co-working” which is on the bottom floor of my building, and occupies the corner of Bruniquer and Montmany streets. The portraits are of Mandela, and two women, and appears to be a nod to activism, refugees and first nations/indigenous peoples. The other image is a bit more satirical in nature and is of ousted, disgraced Spanish president Mariano Rajoy with a clown nose, which was also found here in Gràcia, on Llibertat street. This one appeared not even a week after Rajoy lost a no-confidence vote provoked by innumerable corruption scandals and was forced to leave office by opposition parties in Congress, much to the delight of probably my entire neighborhood, which is decidedly left-leaning.

On another note, this blog was once again listed by the travel website Spotted by Locals as one of the best Barcelona blogs for 2018. Here is a link to the article.

In addition, Spotted by Locals has also developed an app, which puts their fantastic, tourist-trap free travel guides to various cities in your pocket. Here’s how to get hold of them.

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May has been an exciting and busy time for the last couple of years, as it coincides with some of the busy exam seasons at the various schools where I work, as well as my annual trip back to the US for family reunion, and some days in New York City, which is where I am writing from now.

The photos from my trip here will be spread over a few posts, as there are various places I have visited and plan to visit before I head back across the ocean.

In the meantime, here are some photos from my latest trip to the art areas in Poblenou, with some interesting large-scale portraits, similar to the entry from 30 March, as well as some cartoon characters, and some wide-angle shots. I have to say, I’m really happy with the quality of photos from the new galaxy phone, though I have limited experience with other phones such as the Iphone and Pixel.

 

I’ve been toying with the idea of trying to make videos for quite a while, and I decided that my recent phone upgrade to a Galaxy S9 was the perfect opportunity. Perfect opportunity, but far from perfect video. I’m happy with the resolution, however I don’t think the video would be watchable for people who suffer from severe motion sensitivity. So, it looks like the next investment, should I decide to continue dabble in videos, I think my next investment will be a gimbal. However, as they seem to run for, minimum, a few hundred dollars, I may wait just a bit. In any case, here is the link to the video, in case you’re interested.

As for the shots in this post, they come from a city about 10 minutes outside Barcelona, called Mollet del Vallès. It was found on the walls of a secondary school on the Rambla de Balmes, while I was on my way to one of my rent-paying gigs, working as a Cambridge English assessor, which often takes me outside the city. If you’re interested in seeing these, here is a link to the location.

The other shot comes from none other than TV Boy, and features an impossible kiss between two arch-rivals from the world of European football, Pep Guardiola (with the yellow ribbon) and Jose Mourinho. While the two have moved on from the posts where their rivalry was most heated, as managers of Barça and Real Madrd, respectively, the memory of their entertaining jabs at one another lives on.

In the heart of Gràcia, on the corner of Verdi and Asturies streets, you can find the Pastisseria Verdi, a pastry shop which is quite popular with locals, known for its red exteriors and delicious, sweet baked goods.

Recently, the Catalan artist Rice has installed a new project on the red exterior of the corner bakery. All of the work are portraits on which there is a baked good somewhere on the faces of the subjects. Interestingly, there is also a QR code which takes you to a site where each work is accompanied by a text. Here is the link, in case your QR code readers are not cooperating.

I’d like to start this post by giving a shoutout (do people still use that term? Is there an emoji for that?) to Barcelona Segway Tours, who have recently included this blog in the rankings of the best Barcelona travel blogs in English. Be sure to check out the link here, as I am in some fantastic company!

As for today’s images, they come from an artist who makes regular appearances here, none other than TVBoy. Whether it was intentional or not, the Italian artist this time seems to prove the multiple intelligence theory posed by Howard Gardner in his 1983 book. Without getting into too much detail and the debate which accompanies any theory of intelligence and learning (read more here), the two most recent works here in Barcelona, of Antoni Gaudí and Lionel Messi, show two examples of two very distinct types of genius. According to Gardner, Messi would probably be considered a genius in the body-kinesthetic type intelligence, which governs movement and agility. On the other hand, Gaudí would probably fit into the visual-spatial intelligence type, if his masterpieces that punctuate the Catalan capital’s landscape are any indicator. That’s not to say that Messi may not be a great painter, or that Gaudí couldn’t have scored a few goals in his time, but it does show that there can be more than one definition of genius. I have yet to find mine. Have you discovered yours?

As the title suggests, my featured shot for this entry is a work in progress which is being painted on the doors of a street-level parking facility on Ros de Olano street just a few blocks from my home. The artist has also painted another gate on my street, but I’m including this one, as the subject is more exciting to me: the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

The other shots are from various gates, a large mural of a baby from the Vallcarca neighbourhood, a pasteup criticizing the selfie culture, and two large pasted up murals which I think come from the same artist, and can also be found here in Gràcia.

My last set of shots for 2017 here in Barcelona came near the Three Chimneys Park just off Paral·lel, which hosts the “free walls” graffiti project. Be sure to check this article from July, via fellow blogger Barcelona Lowdown. The other photos are from just across the street at the (relatively) new Arnau Gallery, the open-air mural project which has a rotating schedule of public exhibitions. The one in this post was replaced about two weeks ago, but it’s definitely worth the trip if you’re in town. Here is a link to the facebook page with some past work, and some interesting videos.

Tomorrow, the 21st of December is the day that Catalans go to the polls in one of the tensest, most polarized election cycles since Spain’s return to democracy in the late 70’s. There are various parties involved, but really there are only two blocs: the independence bloc, and the so-called constitutionalist bloc, which consists of parties who in one way or another supported the Madrid central government’s seizing control of the Catalan regional government, dissolving the parliament, and calling snap elections. The idea behind the elections would be for non-independence forces to win and form pacts in order to, as Spanish president Rajoy put it, “restore normalcy”. Polls seem neck in neck, and debates have been tense, and no one really seems sure of what will happen, from the paid experts to the man (or woman) on the street.

Italian artist TVBoy has risen to the challenge and during the night slapped up some work which portrays the politicians from the pro-union parties engaged in passionate embraces, which would symbolize the post-election pact magic they would need in order to restore that holy grail of Madrid-style “normalcy”. I rushed downtown as soon as I heard about them, as such political art would likely become victim of the city cleaning squads, or angry citizens who feel their political idols are being mocked.

Added bonus: a rare selfie of your favorite blogger!

 

While the political chaos swirls around me, and daily life gets into the mix, it’s easy to forget that the show most certainly does go one. And street art is no exception.

I was reminded of this just a few days ago when I received, via twitter, the news that Spotted by locals, a website and app that serves as a guide to more than 65 cities worldwide, had chosen this blog to be on their list of the best of Barcelona. Be sure to take a look at the list here, as I’m in some excellent company.

As for the photos in this post, they range pretty much from the middle of July to just last week, and are from various locations, hence the title of this post. Many of them are from the murs lliures project in Poblenou, and have probably been replaced a few times over. Others are small shots from here in Gràcia, or the old city center. I have a small hunting expedition planned for the bank holiday coming up this week, so expect more in the next week or two!

The last few months have been turbulent ones here in Catalonia, and it’s been nearly impossible not to get caught up in the action, hence the lack of publications during this time.

While the independence issue has been at the forefront for the last 7 years or so, since the Spanish government moved to decimate the “estatut” agreement which gave the Catalans more autonomy, and recognition of their cultural identity, it’s only this summer that things really began to heat up.

The president of Catalonia since 2015, Carles Puigdemont is a lifelong believer in the independence movement, in contrast to his predecessor Artur Mas, who was a fairly recent convert. In June, Puigdemont and the independence-minded majority of the Parliament decided to fulfill their election promise and call a binding referendum on the declaration of an independent Catalan Republic. There had been a vote in November of 2014, but it was largely symbolic, and mostly ignored by Madrid. This time, however, Madrid started using every weapon in its arsenal to prevent the referendum, which was slated for the 1st of October.

Over the summer, there was much back-and-forth between Madrid and Barcelona, which culminated in Spanish Civil Guard (paramilitary police, which evoke images for the Franco dictatorship for many) forcing their way into various Catalan government offices, in search of referendum-related materials. This was accompanied by the takedown (and re-birth) of referendum websites, the prohibition of referendum advertising on Catalan public media. There was also police intervention in public meetings to discuss the referendum. Needless to say, none of this sat well with the Catalan people, and massive street demonstrations, beginning on the 20th of September resulted in the imprisonment, without bail or trial, of two leading independence activists known as the “Jordis” for their share first name, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez.

Adding more fuel to the fire, the Spanish government decided to deploy 18,000 National riot police officers and Civil Guard, who were put up in cruise ships near the port.

The days leading up to the referendum were about as tense as I can remember having experienced since coming to live here, with all manner of threats being lobbed from Madrid toward Catalan leaders, citizens and media. The evening before the vote, people occupied the schools where the voting was to take place, organizing games, classes, workshops, and other activities to pass the time, and protect their polling places. The morning of the 1st was a rainy one, but people began to gather outside polling stations before sunrise, waiting to cast their votes, under the constant threat that the police moored at the port could appear at any time. The police did appear at some polling places, and exercised the restraint one would expect from a saber-rattling Madrid–some reports cite nearly 1000 injured, while others claim numbers in the single digits. The photo and video evidence which is abundant online seems to support the former numbers.

During these last few months, the citizen mobilization in the streets has been an impressive exercise in democracy which, whatever one’s feelings might be on the independence issue, has been unique for its lack of violence. A big part of those mobilizations has been the amount of postering and wheatpasting that has been done all over the city. As a street art blog, I felt it necessary to document some of it for you.