I had to dig back in the archives as far as May to get a few of these shots–a difficult task as my dropbox photo cloud approaches 6,00 photos. It was worth the effort though, as I was able to find th photo I was looking for, as well as a few extras that hadn’t made it to the blog. All of this post’s images are of famous people, some of them real celebrities, while two others are famous characters from the small screen. The two fictional faces come from two of the most popular series on TV, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. They come to us from artist Axe Colours, who was previously featured for his portrait of Walter White from another popular TV show, Breaking Bad. In the third image you can see the artist at work. The other three are pop culture icons in real life, Annie Lennox, Anthony Perkins, and Amy Winehouse–with who I think might be Rihanna in the lower right corner. Another image shows a curious mashup of Mickey Mouse and a scowling Madonna.
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.
This doorway can be found on a small side street just off Gràcia’s emblematic Plaça del Sol, and features, down below, a piece of art by Menorcan stencil artist M2, who was featured on this blog during my holidays a few years back. Above that is an image of Rap icons RUN DMC, which calls to mind many memories of long-lost 45 rpm singles I used to spread across my bed when I wanted to play DJ on a rainy Saturday morning. I can still hear the crackle the cheap Fisher-Price record player stylus produced, but it was 320bps to my 9-year-old ears, and more importantly, without the danger of the radio DJ cutting off the song early with some advertiser babble or corny joke.
Edit: I’ve been informed that the pasteup that you can see in the middle comes from an artist named Mischief. You can find Mischief’s work all over Barcelona.
Both of these shots were found in Gràcia and my way toward the city centre. The one of Tony Perkins, better known as Norman Bates, currently adorns the inside of a parking garage on a side street between the Plaça de Vila de Gràcia and the Gran de Gràcia. The other can be found just a bit further down on another easily-missed street just before Gràcia gives way to the modernist paradise known as the Eixample. It reminds me a bit of the old double exposure trick photography.
When I was younger, like many kids, my best friend and I were inseparable, and together we managed to cause our mothers plenty of minor headaches. Generally our antics were quite audible, but there were other times were there was a lull in the action, off in a dark corner of the house, talking in hushed voices. Apparently, these were the most worrying times for my mother, “they must be cooking something up,” as she used to say. And she was always correct.
When I found this image from the Norwegian artist Stein, who has already made an appearance on this blog, I immediately thought back to my childhood. while the closest my friends and I got to street art was probably leaving donut-shaped tire marks in a department store parking lot, there was something in this image that brought back memories. I can only hope that this young boy and many like him can find a recipe for inspiration in the streetart cookbook. There are plenty of drab, bare streets on the urban landscape that could use some delicious re-imagining.
A red elephant on the rampage, having just made easy work of the police cruiser, now sets his sights on the two officers who were unlucky enough to cross its path. This image is another example of the larger-than-life wall works that have been popping up around Gràcia. And perhaps we can look forward to seeing even more. According to Barcelona daily La Vanguardia, city authorities are beginning to give more leeway to street art; a radical change from the zero tolerance policy adopted a few years back. Let’s see if one day I can manage to fill my smartphone memory on one trip out.
Of these two images, the rooster was the first. In the beginning, he stood silent, without the speech bubble, perhaps in deference to the anti-fascist message behind. Then someone added the message, I’m not sure if it was the original artist.
Around the same time, just around the corner near the Plaça Virreina, there appeared the second image of the young space soldier, dressed for a trans-living room intergalactic mission, complete with the phaser rifle.
Question is, who will end up saving the world, the humble rooster or the tinfoil trooper?
This image comes from a concrete wall on a side street just a few blocks from my home in Gràcia. I imagine the concrete wall is either protecting a small vegetable garden or an empty lot awaiting a construction project, or both. Side by side are two images that are common sights in these times of crisis. The man sitting atop the rubbish bin, out of which he may have been able to find some clothes and leftover food, greets passersby as he takes a rest from his foraging. Just behind him we see the equally common sight of the public figure, usually a politician, waving to the crowds from out of the sun roof of his chauffered black car (the preferred official car of Spanish and Catalan politicians seems to be the Audi), while on his way to an important meeting or perhaps even a trip to the hairdresser or just a bit of shopping. Paradoxically, as the economic crisis drags on, not only has there been an increase in the number of people like the first man atop his rubbish bin, but the number of politicians travelling in their chauffer-driven black cars seems to remain steady as well. Strange, considering these are the same people who preach about “times of sacrifice”.
The reason for the odd angle of this shot is that the image was so large I was having a difficult time capturing the entire picture. In fact, this work is life-sized or perhaps a bit larger, one of a number of large wall paste-ups that have been popping up around Gràcia. As I mentioned in a previous entry, their size gains them much more attention and thus makes them more vulnerable to the elements, both natural and man-made, although the last time I passed by, this one seemed to be holding up pretty well. I’m not sure if these have been popping up in other areas of Barcelona as well, because my timetable and the un-springlike weather have prevented me from taking any trips outside the neighbourhood for the last few months or so. I should be getting out later this week, and will definitely be on the lookout, though they’re pretty hard to miss.
I discovered this piece cutting through the Plaça del Sol, the Grand Place of Gràcia. It had already attracted the attention of about three or four other aficionados, so I had to wait in a queue to get this shot. It was a huge piece as well, about the size of a small garage door. I imagine that it is a message against the gentrification of Gràcia. It was also quite short-lived; I passed by again nearly a week after taking the picture and not a trace of it was to be found.