This year’s Festa Major de Gràcia featured a new entry into the decorated streets: la Plaza del Poble Rumaní, the theme of which was one of the biggest cultural contributions from Gràcia’s vibrant gypsy community: la Rumba Catalana. While the decorations themselves had a difficult time competing with the more experienced streets, one feature which stood out from the rest was a huge mural which was painted on the wall of a neighboring school.
The mural is a collaboration between local schools, the local gypsy community, and the organization acidH (Catalan Association for Integration and Human Development). The three artists who participated are well-known in the Barcelona street art scene and this blog: Xupet Negre, Caesar Baetulo (sm172), and konair.
The images on the mural are a mix of the artists’ trademark characters and icons of Catalan culture.
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.
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.
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.
As cathedrals go in Barcelona, the undisputed champion would be, of course, the Sagrada Familia. You won’t find any pictures of it here, not because I don’t love it, but because a google search will yield hundreds of thousands of photos that would be much better taken than anything I could manage with my modest mobile photography skills. But I digress…
There are a number of other cathedrals worth checking out, most notably the Cathedral of Barcelona and the bustling plaza which surrounds it. My favourite, however, is in the Born neighbourhood, and a bit closer to the sea, hence the name: Santa Maria del Mar. I won’t post any pictures either, as I would hardly do it justice–but I definitely recommend it.
While you’re there, after you’ve marveled at majestic Basilica, take a turn onto a small side street called Mirallers, marked on the map here, and start walking along this street till the end. You should also be careful not to miss the surrounding streets, especially carrer d’en Rosic and carrer de Grunyí. Be on the lookout for some of the huge, old doors that have been covered in stickers, pasteups and all different sorts of images. With all signs pointing to the disappearance of the Galeria Magdalena to make room for a new construction project, this may be one of the only outdoor galleries we have left, aside from the free walls.
These photos were taken on the 11th of September, which is the National Day of Catalunya, and the streets where I was wandering that day were abuzz with preparations for the demonstrations and celebrations of Catalan language and culture. The celebrations have become especially crowded over the last few years as the campaign for independence from Spain continues to gather steam, evident from the sea of estelades, which is the Catalan independence flag.
In order to avoid the crowds, I was trying to find some shortcuts which would take me over or under the long Avinguda Meridiana, which was the focal point of this year’s celebrations. As I was walking near the Torre Agbar, the loved/hated cucumber-shaped edifice which emerges from the urban landscape just near the the Plaça de Glories, I headed down a small hill and found an entire wall decorated with various tags and some fantastic murals. Facing the walls, on the other side of the vacant lot were a small group of chabolas, which are improvised shacks usually inhabited by Roma gypsies. Here is an example of some chabolas in Barcelona.
I was excited to find some new painted spots, as I’m finding fewer and fewer new images on my wanderings through the old city center. I hope to make a pilgrimage to this spot this week to see if there is anything new.
As the title suggests, I’ve been receiving some requests for guest blog posts and interviews over the last few months, and I’d like to give a shout out to each one of them. The first one I did is part of the blog Homage to BCN, run by Rob Dobson. The feature which I did details my perfect day in Barcelona, which includes some good restaurant recommendations, as well as some highlights from Barcelona Street Scraps. Homage is one of my favorite blogs, and definitely should become a part of any reading list for anyone interested in the Ciutat Comtal.
Over the last week or so, an army of small, simple figures have descended upon the neighbourhood of Gràcia. Many of them are decorated with hearts, ladders and euro symbols. After I placed a few of them on my instagram feed, a commentor informed me that they are the work of an Italian artist called exit enter. There isn’t much information, but after a bit of digging I managed to find a Pinterest board and a newspaper article/interview. From what I’ve been able to gather thanks to Chrome translate, the childlike simplicity of the work is far from accidental, and fits in very well with a message that seems highly critical of the frenetic, information-saturated, tech-dependent world. The balloons and ladders can provide us a means of escape to childlike lightness, an exit from the Huxley-esque dystopia of facebook feeds, twitter timelines and multi-tab web browsing.
Thanks for stopping by, Exit Enter, and I hope this isn’t your first visit to Barcelona.
Just to the north of one of my favourite squares in all of Barcelona, the plaça de la Virreina, we find this larger-than-life image of the character Walter White, the main character in the immensely popular Breaking Bad. This image is the work of axe colours. I wish i had more to say about this series that wasn’t second-hand, but I haven’t had the opportunity to see even a single episode The reason is pretty much the same as the reason I haven’t updated this blog as much as I would like over the last few months.
Changes in my work and free time habits have provoked an inexcusable neglect of my little project here, one which I’m hoping to resolve between this summer and the next academic year. I also hope to be able to catch up on films and tv series, as I’m woefully behind on that aspect of pop culture.