Posts Tagged ‘streetart’

Outdoor art in Oslo

July 25th, 2018

Oslo
Oslo Oslo
 

On my first night in Oslo I wandered the streets of Grünerløkka looking for a relaxing place to eat, then to find some groceries. Along the way I kept stopping to snap photos of the street art painted on the sides of buildings. These weren’t always off in the alleys but often on streets with pedestrians and streetcars passing by.

Thinking about it in retrospect I didn’t see much street art while visiting Hydra and Stockholm. Street art doesn’t go with the crumbling brick and stucco wall aesthetic of Greek islands, but what’s going on with Stockholm? I know there are places where to find street art but you have to head pretty far outside the main city to find it. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time for such excursions.

Athens street art is its own story, which I wrote about during my visit last year. Go read that if you’re interested.

 
Oslo
 

While heading back to the apartment with a bag of groceries I happened to walk through a small park. In that park I spotted a sculpture of a young woman clutching her belly. This got me thinking — why do we tend to think of outdoor murals as “street art,” but not outdoor sculptures? Art museums often feature both paintings and sculptures, so if street art is simply outdoor art without an admission fee, shouldn’t this description include sculptures as well as paintings?

I don’t mean to make this out to be a profound idea, but I kept coming back to it as I visited (or stumbled upon) Oslo’s outdoor art.
 

World War II memorials

 
Oslo
 

On a hill overlooking Oslo’s waterfront and a stone’s throw from city hall is a statue of American president FDR. Why? According to a tour guide Norway was criticized during World War II for falling to Nazi occupation despite initial Allied military support. This criticism felt unwarranted by Norwegians who fought the occupation, so when FDR took to the airwaves to commend the Norwegian resistance movement he earned the respect of Norway.

It’s worth noting the statue depicts FDR as the disabled man he was, sitting in a chair rather than standing, but doesn’t directly comment on this particular pose.

 
Oslo
 

On the topic of WWII there’s a sculpture near Oslo S featuring a hammer smashing something on a stone slab. What’s the hammer smashing? It seems the artist made it intentionally difficult to view, let alone photograph.

The simple answer is the hammer is destroying a swastika. The more complicated answer; as you approach the shiny metal swastika, you’ll see your own face reflected in the mirror-like surface. What is this piece saying? Hopefully it’s quite obvious.
 

Sorry if that got depressing; let’s move on to some lighter works.
 

Ekeberg Park

 
Oslo
Oslo Oslo Oslo Oslo
 

I took a streetcar to Ekeberg Park, a wooded hillside park that doesn’t seem to have caught on (yet?) with the tourist crowd much. Most of the people I saw in the park were clearly locals jogging or walking their dogs. There’s also a restaurant near the entrance which seemed pretty busy, and a lookout with a nice view of the city.

The park is best known as the place that inspired The Scream. One evening in the late nineteenth century Edvard Munch was taking a stroll through the park with some friends, and the sunset turned the sky a particularly vivid red hue. Munch interpreted what he felt was a scream from nature through the paintings (there are more than one.)

Over the past few years the park added various sculptures from different artists, ranging from more conceptual pieces to classic figures of humans. Some sculptures didn’t look like much during my visit, but outdoor sculptures can take on a very different context depending on the lighting or weather.
 

Blå

 
Oslo
Oslo Oslo Oslo Oslo
 

If you follow the river south from the Mathallen food hall there’s a bar and nightclub called Blå. You know you’re in the right place when you see walls covered in murals and various outdoor sculptures, including a giant chandelier dangling over an alley. During the day it’s a relatively quiet bar with a patio under the trees, at night it transitions into a music venue with everything from DJs to live music including jazz and hip hop.

The murals vary a lot in both style and quality, which makes sense when you consider there’s an art school campus a couple blocks away.
 

The Waterfront

 
Oslo Oslo Oslo
 

Back in the day Oslo’s waterfront was an industrial neighborhood. But as in so many other blue collar parts of town around the world, the waterfront became luxury housing, upscale restaurants, tourist friendly museums, and picnic areas. The area around the Astrup Fearnley Museum is littered with sculptures to check out while enjoying coffee and ice cream from nearby vendors.
 

Royal Palace

 
Oslo
Oslo Oslo
 

I don’t know if this is a regular thing, but the Royal Palace gardens had a small temporary outdoor exhibition of sculptures. These were more pop-art crowd pleasers than typical outdoor art in Oslo — not that there’s anything wrong with that. Still, it took some waiting to get clear shots of these as people waited around for their turn to snap photos.

Individuals and groups of all ages wanted photos of themselves under the rainbow, or selfies with the faceless puppeteer. Much like the Color Factory or Museum of Ice Cream, perhaps this type of photo-friendly sculpture represents some hitherto unnamed future of participatory art. Who’s to say?
 

Frogner Park

 
Oslo Oslo Oslo Oslo Oslo
 

Though the name is a little confusing, the infamous Frogner Park is the same thing as Vigeland Sculpture Park. The park is covered in sculptures by artist Gustav Vigeland as well as grass, gardens, and water features.

The sculptures are largely nude human forms in both metal and concrete. Some of them seem more serious than others, with the guy fighting off babies as the best known statue of the park’s more comical artistic stance.

During my visit I saw groups of tourists eagerly take their shoes and socks off to wade around in the water and take photos of one another. Scandinavians typically take their shoes off when entering a home, so I’d imagine this is pretty disgusting to the locals.

The park is a promenade extending from the entrance over to the phallic sculpture of human bodies tangled together at the other end. Several sculptures are hidden down non-obvious passages, such as the baby balanced on its head which is located in a dead-end under a bridge.

 
Oslo Oslo
 

And then there was this mysterious sculpture. While it wasn’t originally intended to be a sculpture the phone company added a plaque to commemorate it as though it were one. After taking photos of the old phone booth a group of teen girls appeared behind me, waiting for their turn.

As I walked away I noticed one of them picked up the receiver and tried to make a call while the others used their smartphones to take pictures.
 

Everything else

 
Oslo
Oslo Oslo Oslo Oslo
 

What amazed me about Oslo’s outdoor art was how it’s everywhere — from big sculpture parks to small alleys, there’s something for everyone to find whether you set out to do so or are simply wandering from point A to point B. From the big colorful murals to the surprisingly clean statues (where’s all the bird poop?!) the outdoor urban landscape of Oslo is almost like an open air museum.

Aside from Frogner Park or what you may see on a guided tour, the majority of the outdoor art isn’t mentioned anywhere on the internet. I’m not sure it needs to be; part of the fun is spotting it on your own while spending time in Oslo.

Doctor Who sidewalk graffiti in Hayes Valley

June 17th, 2018

Bad Wolf
 

At the corner of Rose and Octavia, someone painted “Bad Wolf…” underneath the street imprint in the sidewalk. I thought that was pretty funny and snapped the above photo.

Spoilers for old Doctor Who episodes follow.

“Bad Wolf” was a storyline from the first season of the rebooted Doctor Who back in 2005. Throughout the season the ninth Doctor and his companion Rose Tyler keep seeing references to Bad Wolf, but are unable to identify the significance of the phrase. Toward the end of the season, Rose Tyler looks into the heart of the Doctor’s TARDIS and becomes temporarily inhabited by it or something. Look, this is all pretty convoluted even by Doctor Who standards so just roll with it.

The important thing is, Rose Tyler with the TARDIS’ time traveling power becomes a new entity known as Bad Wolf. Together as one, they defeat a small army of Daleks and bring “Captain” Jack Harness back to life via time manipulation.

A thirteen year old story from a BBC show isn’t what one would normally expect to see on the streets of San Francisco. Kudos to those keeping our streets humorous and geeky.

Honey bear invasion

January 30th, 2018

Tony the Tiger honey bear Honey Bowie bear Flava honey bear
 

On the way to work this morning I noticed SOMA had been invaded by honey bears. Anyone familiar with local street art — or regular readers of this blog — would immediately recognize this as the work of fnnch. But what was up with all the bears appearing at once? And why were they strapped to the utility poles instead of painted on?

I didn’t have to wait long to find out, because pretty much every local news outlet covered the project.

To sum up an already short story, fnnch got a bunch of friends together to raise awareness of a petition to decriminalize certain types of street art. But to learn more in fnnch’s own words, check out this post on Medium about the project.

Honey bears invade BART station

March 22nd, 2017

BART Honey Bears from fnnch
 

A series of fnnch’s honey bears have invaded the Powell BART/Muni Metro station as I discovered on the way home this evening. These are among the larger honey bear murals I’ve come across, though I think thees are the same size as the one that was once across the street from Dolores Park.

According to Broke-Ass Stuart, these murals are a little different from fnnch’s other work in that they were painted on panels that were then taped to the wall. It’s an interesting mural technique because it makes it simpler to put up (and remove, presumably) but also opens the door to this type of street art installation in a confined space where spray paint fumes wouldn’t be welcome.

Murals of Lilac Alley

September 4th, 2016

These days it seems pretty much every alley around 24th and Mission is a de-facto canvas for street artists. Overall this is a good thing; it keeps the Mission’s colorful, artistic elements in plain view, acting as a counterbalance to the obscene housing prices that have made the area affordable to many artists. Go out there almost any weekend and you’re bound to find at least one such mural in progress.

Here’s a few I snapped photos of today on a stroll through Lilac Alley. Click any of them for a larger view on Flickr.
 

Lilac Alley murals

Lilac Alley murals

Lilac Alley murals

Lilac Alley murals<

Lilac Alley murals

Lilac Alley murals

Lilac Alley murals

BREAKING: Second Super Mario Bros. street art mural located in San Francisco

May 31st, 2016

Mario Mural

“It’s-a me!”
 

Located in Cypress Alley between 24th and 25th Street, this Super Mario Bros. mural definitively answers one of the most pressing questions of our time. I only happened upon this mural by chance; aimlessly meandering the streets of San Francisco in an attempt to make my fitness tracker happy, I looked up and there it was: the iconic characters Mario Mario and Luigi Mario standing near a gold star, a magic mushroom, and one of those evil plants sticking out of a pipe.

This clearly raises some questions, but most important among them is this: Could there be a third piece of Super Mario Bros. themed street art in San Francisco? With any luck, time will tell.

Is this the only Super Mario Bros. street art in San Francisco?

April 11th, 2016

Mario street art

On the side of The Willows, a bar at the corner of Folsom and 12th Street, there’s a mural featuring Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. Which is nice and all, but it raises an obvious question: is this the only Super Mario Bros. street art in all of San Francisco?

This development seems especially surprising given that Europe’s version of San Francisco has an obsession with Super Mario Bros. that’s reflected in both their street art and names of businesses.

If we want our street art scene to be competitive with Lisbon’s, we have a lot of catching up to do. If we work together and we work hard, we can address this important citywide issue.

UPDATE: We have an answer!

fnnch takes to the seas

March 6th, 2016

Fnnch street art

Fnnch street art Fnnch street art

Local street artist fnnch has plunged the former T-Mobile store at 20th and Mission under the sea. The 20th Street side of the building is now covered in a series of orange squid, with the Mission side getting a spattering of yellow starfish. If the starfish look familiar, you’ve probably been by Ritual recently, where two similar starfish can bee seen on the sidewalk by the nautically-themed parklet.

Of course all of these homages to the sea are a little out of place in the Mission, since the actual sea is only a couple neighborhoods away in almost any direction.

Murals of Osage Alley

February 15th, 2016

One of the few places to find actual underground murals in the Mission these days — in other words the kind explicitly not approved by some shady collective — is Osage Alley. Instead of stale and increasingly contrived attempts at political statements, at Osage Alley you’ll mostly find the funky old school and copyright-agnostic murals that the Mission was once known for.

The murals on this two and a half block long alley change frequently. For some of the previous art, check out the images on Google Street View.

Osage Alley murals Osage Alley murals Osage Alley murals Osage Alley murals

The wild murals of Erie Street

December 12th, 2015

Tucked behind a series of warehouses and repair shops by the old Central Freeway viaduct is Erie Street. Despite the name, it’s actually a small alley that’s only a block and a half long. But it’s also home to some of the more interesting murals in the city. Maybe one day they’ll become as increasingly stale — and frankly, conservative — as the murals approved by the local art groups, but for now the Erie Street murals still have a wild, almost psychedelic sensibility about them.

Check out some of my favorites below. Click any photo for a larger version.

Erie St. mural
Erie St. mural
Erie St. mural
Erie St. mural
Erie St. mural
Erie St. mural
Erie St. mural
Erie St. mural