Posts Tagged ‘streetart’

Reno street art: Midtown

May 5th, 2019

Reno street art
Reno street art Reno street art Reno street art Reno street art Reno street art Reno street art Reno street art Reno street art Reno street art Reno street art
 

In the last post I went over some of the street art in Reno’s downtown. Now, onto the Midtown neighborhood.

Not long ago Midtown was known for dingy motels and strip clubs; to some extent that’s still true, but it’s undergoing a renaissance these days. And why not? It’s a short walk from downtown — just across the river, really — and has become a destination for nearby office workers to have lunch or grab a drink after work.

I don’t think I would have considered visiting Midtown to see its street art on my own, but while searching for food tours in Reno I came across the Midtown & Murals Tour from Reno Food Tours. I don’t want to go into the food aspect too much here except to say I was very stuffed by the end.

The highlight of the tour was completely unplanned: while looking at one of his murals, we just happened to cross paths with prolific Reno muralist Joe C. Rock. Our guide immediately spotted and introduced us to him.

Some though not all of the murals in the above photo gallery were featured on this tour. It’s pretty easy to find most of these murals; they’re either in parking lots along Virginia Street, or off to the side in alleys, parking lots, and on the backs of buildings. There’s no need to go on this or any other tour to walk around Midtown and see plenty of murals on your own.

I’ll admit I was surprised by the quantity, quality, and variety of street art in Reno — particularly in Midtown. It’s definitely not a city I would have associated with street art, and I was happy to be proven wrong.

Reno street art: Downtown

May 5th, 2019

While in Reno I came across so much street art I’m doing two posts about it, starting with downtown Reno. Since I only spent 48 hours in Reno there’s probably many glaring omissions here. Even this first post is split into two galleries for reasons that should make sense momentarily.

 
Reno street art
Reno street art Reno street art Reno street art Reno street art
 

Downtown Reno looks pretty shabby overall these days, so what better way to add some color to boarded up buildings and big blank walls than with murals? The pieces range considerably in size and style. The above photos are just a select sample of what I came across walking around downtown within a five by five block radius or so.

I should point out there’s also a significant number of pieces that are just decorative, like patterns painted on utility boxes — not as exciting though definitely a welcome splash of color.

 
Reno street art
Reno street art Reno street art Reno street art Reno street art Reno street art Reno street art
 

City Plaza is a hot spot for skateboarders with its large evenly-paved surface and makeshift ramps. There’s a number of utility boxes in the plaza with murals of cartoon raccoons on skateboards; while photographing these a guy skateboarded past me and boasted “my friend painted that!”

Come to think of it, everyone I saw there was either skateboarding or taking photos.

What the plaza’s best known for though are its two sculptures originally built for Burning Man: a giant 3D sign that says “BELIEVE,” and two stained glass whales known as Space Whale which feature internal lights that glow after dark. Both of these act as selfie magnets for the Instagram crowd.

The impact of Burning Man on Reno isn’t something I’d thought about before. As it’s the biggest city on the way to Black Rock City, Reno bears the brunt of its problems (guess where the trash gets dumped?) but it’s also beneficial for the tourism industry and local art scene.

Street art in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood

April 28th, 2019

RiNo street art
Love this city
 

There’s street art all over Denver, from the murals hidden under bridges to the sculptures in the alleys along the 16th Street Mall. But there’s only one neighborhood that’s famous for its street art: River North, also known as RiNo.

Walking to RiNo from downtown is a pretty reasonable 20 minutes or so. The main street in the area is Larimer Street, northeast of Broadway if you’re approaching from downtown.

Like many rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods it’s a mix of all types of restaurants and bars, brand new condos, and small older homes. What makes the neighborhood unique though is a block or two away from the busy Larimer corridor are several mid-sized beer and cider brewing companies.

 
RiNo street art RiNo street art RiNo street art RiNo street art RiNo street art RiNo street art
 

Many of the larger murals in RiNo are commissioned pieces painted as part of a yearly festival called CRUSH. Still others were commissioned by the city to spruce up abandoned storefronts. And then of course are those back alley murals that may not technically speaking be entirely legal.

The artists behind the murals in RiNo are everyone from local art school students to internationally recognized artists. I suspect even the most amateur street art enthusiast can spot the mural in this blog post by Shepard Fairey.

 
RiNo street art RiNo street art RiNo street art RiNo street art RiNo street art RiNo street art
 

Aside from the above galleries, I wanted to point out a few of the more unique murals I spotted in RiNo.

 
RiNo street art
RiNo street art RiNo street art
 

Local artist Jeremy Burns took a blank wall with “fins” protruding from it and turned a single wall into two murals. Depending on which way you approach the wall you’ll either see a cartoonish boy or girl figure. From head on across the street it doesn’t look like anything at all!

 
RiNo street art
 

What strikes me about this painting is how hyper-realistic the two girls’ faces look, and yet it’s spray painted on an uneven brick wall. There’s some serious skill at work here.

I regret that I couldn’t find any signature on this one. I assume it’s signed one way or another, but there were cars parked too close for me to make anything out.

 
RiNo street art
 

On the more whimsical side there are tiny paintings of construction workers all over RiNo. These are from street artist Jaune who came all the way from Belgium.

The tiny construction workers find themselves in various situations, such as descending from a window in the above photo to climbing on gas meters.

 
RiNo street art
 

Lastly is this corner mural from a local street artist known as Gamma. It depicts a black woman with some kind of skin condition; perhaps vitiligo. From the opposite corner it seems she’s staring at you.

Getting closer a few more things pop out, especially the details on her eyes and lips that seem impossibly intricate for a spray paint mural.

And then there’s her skin condition, which is a map of the world.
 

My recommendation: If you’re into street art there’s plenty to see all over Denver, but if you want to see the most world class works head over to RiNo. Of course there’s no guarantee you’ll see any of the works I’ve photographed on your visit as they change all the time due to the ephemeral nature of street art.

The street art of Logan Square

April 18th, 2019

Logan Square Street Art
The most famous street art mural in Logan Square, if not all of Chicago
 

I almost skipped making a visit to Logan Square; it looked so far away on a map. Turns out it’s a fast, if somewhat cramped ride on the “L” from where I’m staying, and there were a few other places I had in mind to visit in the area. So off I went.

And I’m glad I did. It’s a relatively small neighborhood in comparison to much of Chicago with a lot of local businesses, upscale cafes, and small restaurants. Walking through the area there’s a lot of people jogging, walking their dogs, or riding bikes. And yet if you wander off to a side street you’ll find dirt roads and auto shops. Perhaps it’s a neighborhood where people of all social classes live and work together, perhaps it’s a nightmare of gentrification — most likely it’s a little of both, but what do I know? I was just passing through.

What was clear about Logan Square is it’s got the most street art of any part of Chicago I’ve seen. Most notably, the much-photographed “Greetings From Chicago” mural seen above is located in the neighborhood. It’s only a couple blocks from the California stop on the Blue Line.

Here’s a handful of other street art I got a kick out of in the area:

 
Logan Square Street Art Logan Square Street Art
Logan Square Street Art Logan Square Street Art
Logan Square Street Art Logan Square Street Art
 

Last but definitely not least is this enormous mural of the late Robin Williams and one of his most iconic characters, the genie from Aladdin:

 
Logan Square Street Art

Mission mural roundup

January 20th, 2019

Calvin and Hobbes mural
 

It’s been too long since I posted about murals at home here in the Mission District. To fix that here’s some recent photos of murals in the neighborhood, starting with the Calvin and Hobbes one above across vacant storefronts.

The image seemed familiar; after Googling around I found the original on this page, which claims it was for the LA Times to accompany an interview they did with Bill Watterson.

 
Mission Street Mural
 

Further down Mission Street is this mural depicting a bird’s impossibly-colored feathers with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. It’s by Cameron “Camer1″ Moberg, who also created the mural at the nearby Cornerstone Church.

Now on to Clarion Alley. I haven’t been terribly impressed with many recent murals there, but a few caught my eye.

 
Clarion Alley mural
 

The mural of a woman here somehow fits this funny bookmark-shaped spot perfectly. If it looks familiar, it replaced a similar mural by the same artist group, WHOLE9 from Osaka, Japan.

 
Clarion Alley mural
 

The least serious mural here is a depiction of Adam Bomb (scroll down) of the Garbage Pail Kids. If you don’t remember the Garbage Pail Kids, they were collectible stickers parodying the wholesome Cabbage Patch dolls by depicting them in disgusting and disturbing situations.

There is a local street artist who goes by GPK, but the “GPK” here could also be a reference to the Garbage Pail Kids? Or both? I’m not sure about this one.

 
Clarion Alley mural
 

Somehow I never took a photo of Girlmobb‘s depiction of disembodied hands holding smartphones until recently, but the mural’s been there for a while. There’s something amusing about taking a photo of this one with your smartphone.

 
Clarion Alley mural
 

I’m afraid I’ve saved the saddest one for last. This one’s by Twin Walls in honor of Luis D. Gongora Pat. If this mural’s the first you’ve heard of him don’t be surprised — he was killed by SFPD but the news of his death didn’t get much local coverage. For all the details you’ll have to read about it in The Guardian. (The British paper, not the defunct local publication.)

Toward the end of his life Gongora Pat became homeless and spent a lot of time practicing soccer on Folsom Street in the Mission. Never knew the guy but that’s where I remember seeing him, kicking a ball around on the sidewalk.

The murals of Chicano Park

January 2nd, 2019

Chicano Park
 

Every now and then some boring government official decides what to do with a boring piece of land under a boring freeway overpass. More often than not the land ends up as a parking lot or some other type of storage — and that’s almost what happened with a stretch of land in the Barrio Logan neighborhood of San Diego in the early 1970′s.

But when the mostly Latino neighbors found out about the plan, they organized and pressured the city to put a park there instead. Gotta love a story where the little guy wins. For more details on the history of Chicano Park head over to Wikipedia.

A key element of the park’s development happened early on when an artist came up with the idea of using the freeway pillars in the park as surfaces for murals. Today the murals themselves seem like more of an attraction than the park.

 
Chicano Park Chicano Park Chicano Park Chicano Park Chicano Park
 

Even the trees and benches are painted with park’s theme:

 
Chicano Park Chicano Park
 

The park includes a few skate ramps, complete with corresponding skate-themed murals:

 
Chicano Park Chicano Park Chicano Park
 

One archway seems to implore the park to extend “Hasta la bahia” or “All the way to the bay.” Several murals appear on freeway posts outside the boundaries of the park. It remains to be seen if the park itself will extend further over the years.

 
Chicano Park Chicano Park
 

The original intent for this blog post was to just throw together a photo gallery of street art in San Diego. But after looking at all the photos, it was pretty clear Chicano Park was the star attraction. While you can find plenty of great street art all around San Diego, Chicano Park has many great murals in one place — and an inspiring story too.

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.