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.
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.
Today’s post features just a single image–well, two views of a single image–which I captured while wandering the streets of Bushwick, which has become one of the hippest neighborhoods in the hippest borough of New York City. Indeed, the streets of 2016 Bushwick were a stark contrast to the Bushwick I first encountered in 1995, when I was offered a small, ground-floor studio apartment. Had you told me then, when I paid for my soda and chips through a plexi-glass partition at the bodega that these same streets would one day be home to gastropub-cinemas and sidewalk cafés offering fair trade lattés and vegan pastries, I would have spit my Mountain Dew all over the potholed street.
Bushwick has also become well-known as a haven for some fantastic street art, which will be featured in a future post.
Today’s image is a pasteup of a young boy with his hands up, and below him the caption “don’t shoot”. It seems to be a reference to the phrase “hands up, don’t shoot”, which has become the mantra of many protests by groups such as the Black Lives Matter movement. It is perhaps for this reason it quickly became the first photo ever on my Instagram feed to reach 100 likes. I consider this quite a milestone, as I’ve had the Instagram account for around the same amount of time as I’ve been keeping this blog, for just over 4 years.
Speaking of my instagram account, it’s a great place to check out some of the street shots that didn’t make it on to the blog, along with other non-street art related images I find along the way. My instagram name is @tbri001. Be sure to check it out!
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.
Today’s post features a single image, and appears to be the work of Brooklyn-based Iranian artists Icy and Sot. Much of their art is heavily political, and as the title suggests, their work focuses on the plight of refugees and other oppressed peoples. I really love how the power of people is captured within the body of the lone demonstrator–a really significant image for anyone who’s been living here since the famous “crisis” began and was able to witness the birth of the now-famous 15-M movement. I haven’t posted a single image in quite a while, but this one really had an impact on me when I stumbled upon it a few months back, and was probably one of the best shots that day.
On the shoulder of this profile, you can also see a horse figure, which is the work of Francisco de Pájaro, aka El Arte es Basura (Art is trash), and whose work and installations can be seen in Barcelona, along with many other cities.
This image was found in the Raval on Carrer Princep de Viana, just off the Plaça del Dubte.
Bcn Street Scraps is entering its fifth year, and has continued to evolve from a blog with pictures (sometimes several posts a day) and just a brief snarky comment or two to a blog with (ideally) two posts a month, but with much more commentary about the context of the images and what impression they have on me.
For 2016, I intend to carry on with these types of posts, but I’ve also decided to make some modifications. One of the first, and most important, is that going forward I will try to give the location of each image or group of images. It will probably happen via captions on the pictures, or if all the pictures in a post are from the same location, I’ll give the location in the post itself.
Another change which I’ve been procrastinating on for quite a while is the addition of a blog roll on the page. I’ve received quite a bit of attention over the last year or two from some great blogs which have in turn become a part of my regular reading list. Since a big part of the internet is sharing, it’s only right that I share these with my readers.
The final change is a bit of an experiment. Aside from street art, another one of my great interests is eating and drinking. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I’m a “foodie”, but I most definitely appreciate good food and drink as much as I appreciate discovering a hot piece of public art. I’ve been toying with the idea of sharing some of my tastier experiences with readers and have decided that the new year would be as good a moment as any to introduce this new concept. And don’t worry, Street Scraps won’t be littered with pictures of every burger or plate of patates braves I order; as with my street shots, I’ll try to include only the best of the best. Any reader feedback would be greatly appreciated!
I’ll also (weather permitting) be travelling to NYC where I’m hoping to bring back some NYC street scraps (both visual and edible) so stay tuned.
To wrap up, I just wanted to give a shout out to one of the guest posts that I did over the past year. This one comes from the travel blog Culture Trip. You can find my post here.
Carrer de Treball, Murs lliures project
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.
Toward the end of August, as the traditional vacation month was reaching an end, I made my way down to the ever-changing street art site known as the Tres Xemeneies, which has become an outdoor canvas with the blessings of the city council. These can be found near the end of Parallel Avenue, just below the famous Apollo Disco and Theatre, and is hard to miss due to, as the name would suggest, the three huge smokestacks from the old electrical power plant, well-preserved reminders of Barcelona’s industrial past.
It’s now a park, which is more of a concrete than green space. As a result it has attracted its fair share of skaters who are perhaps looking for an alternative to the overcrowded plaza in front of the MACBA. The covered ampitheatre-like structure has been opened up after being fenced off for nearly a year, and has become home to two large murals, as well as a place to lay one’s head.
It seems to change quite frequently and is worth the trip if you don’t want to stray too far from the city center.