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.
The phrase “operación retorno” refers to the slow, but steady reverse exodus back to the cities (and reality) after the August holidays. I’m fortunate to start off with a fairly abbreviated schedule in order to ease myself back into the routine. To close off the month of August, and the lazy, hazy summer of 2016, I present to you the second installment of the photo highlights from the Festa Major of Gràcia.
Just yesterday, the annual Festa Major of Gràcia came to a fiery end with the Correfocs (fire runners) spreading sparks through the narrow streets of the neighborhood. The sea (including lots and lots of my favorite animal, the jellyfish) was a recurring theme in the decorated streets this year. Indeed, this year’s first prize winner was a brilliant under-the-sea motif featuring a giant fisherman, whose feet became the victims of vandals later in the week. In case you’re curious, here is a list of this year’s winners (in Catalan). Worth noting is that habitual winner Verdi has fallen to 7th position, with a California/Holywood-themed decor. Other themes included theatre, birthday party, a fantasy plant world, a commemoration of 20 years of participation, and women’s history.
Without further ado, here is the first installment of shots from this year’s grand festival.
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!
While this entry’s images are not street art in the strict sense, I do think they deserve some attention. With all the hoopla over Halloween, it’s quite easy to forget another tradition from Mexico which I find infinitely more fascinating. This tradition is the Dia de los muertos, when the spirits of the departed return to enjoy some fine food and drink with those they’ve left behind. What we see in the pictures are the altars that are constructed to honor the dead relatives along with food and drink, as they’ve built up quite an appetite spending the year roaming the other side. These creations come to us courtesy of the Cantina Machito, one of a handful of great little Mexican restaurants on the carrer Torrijos here in Gràcia. I originally stumbled upon these altars coming home from work, when there were also some musicians serenading the terrace diners. The altars are already gone, but I look forward to seeing them again next year.
Here’s another shot that I forgot to add to the montage from the Casal Popular in Gràcia. Or perhaps it’s better that I’ve given this one its own entry. After all, it’s common knowledge that the majority of internet traffic is dedicated to porn and pictures of cats. Oh, and searches of academic journals, of course.
So, here’s my contribution to the billions of cat pictures slinking about in cyberspace, though I don’t think this fiery feline is in search of a “cheezburger”.
My neighborhood of Gràcia, or la Vila de Gràcia as it’s officially known isn’t exactly the epicenter of Barcelona’s vibrant street art culture. But when you find an image, usually on the side of an electrical box on a side street, what you’ll find is usually a gem. This image is a perfect example, and comes from one of my favorite artists, c215. I especially like this woman’s glance, sidewise, as I’ve suggested in the title, with a special emphasis on the “wise”. I think this one is still around and can be found very close to the Plaça de Vila de Gràcia (the one with the big clock tower in the center). What does she know that we don’t?
This one was right around the corner from my house. The head in this case is the candidate from the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), Pere Navarro. He nearly put me to sleep in the debate Sunday evening, so it’s no surprise that someone decided this incredibly bland character needed some superpowers. The x-ray laser vision may be able to burn through concrete and steel, but I doubt it will win him the election this weekend.
I think I’ve managed to get pictures of all the different posters, as they’re already starting to be torn down.