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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.

 

 

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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.

2017 marks the beginning of the sixth year of this blog. And while I’ve been a bit busy with the annual holiday travelling as well as different new projects on the work front, I have been taking some shots–it’s just a matter of getting the time to sit down and organize everything into a post.

This entry is a revisit to TV Boy, whose pop art was featured in a previous entry. Some of them are returning guests, Van Gogh and Kahlo, along with two new faces, Warhol and the Pope. All of these shots were found in my neighborhood of Gràcia, the big doorway on the main thoroughfare of Carrer Verdi.

The final shot comes from the French artist Manyoly, who will feature in an upcoming post on my trip to London.

 

 

This will be one of the final posts of yet another year, and most of these shots come from a recent walk through the art-rich Born neighbourhood. One of the silver linings of having had such a busy November and December is that I haven’t had much time to wander, meaning that there were quite a few new discoveries.

Two of these images are mash-ups of Arte Es Basura and stencil artist sm 172. Whether or not the collaborations were intentional or not I’m not sure, but my guess would be that they were not an accident.

The other images are a portrait of Lauryn Hill by artist RAF Urban and, a stencil by Guate Mao, and Amy Winehouse, by B TOY.

I’ll be spending the remainder of 2016 exploring the aftermath of post-Trump victory America. The places I’ll be are generally not known for any urban art, but I’ll be sure to take a photo of any beauty I encounter in the Yuletide ruins.

Last week, while making one of my occasional pilgrimages to the Poblenou neighbourhood, I stumbled upon an open gateway, beyond which I could see some murals. It’s a spot I pass by frequently, just off the northern exit of the Parc del Centre del Poblenou. I normally take this route as there are some walls of a partially abandoned building which get painted every now and again.

I’m normally not one just to enter an open gateway uninvited (one of the myriad reasons I’ll probably never move from taking pictures and archiving to creating urban art), but this time my curiousity got the best of me and I decided to wander in.

The name on the entrance said Can Ricart, but upon entering, I checked my phone location and noticed I was in a place called Hangar.org, which describes itself as “a centre for arts production and research, offering support to artists”. The website is here and the facebook is here. And here is some info about Can Ricart.

I didn’t have a chance to chat with anyone, as most of the occupants of the space seemed hard at work, but I did manage to take a stroll around the premises and get some interesting photos, including one of the huge pillar which is visible from the street outside the walls, and which I had photographed previously from afar.