Category Archives: On the road…

On the Road: Street Art – Greek Style

Now that we’re home and the jet lag has dissipated, I thought I’d share some of the street art we encountered while in Greece. We spent most of our time on the islands for our friends’ wedding and saw little street art there, so it wasn’t until our time in the capital city of Athens, a scant 48 hours, that we saw anything really noteworthy.

The political unrest in Athens has mostly died down since the violent demonstrations of 2012, but you can still see remnants of it through the graffiti and street art that activists have left behind. I only documented a couple of the smaller pieces (the largest ones were seen from the window of a taxi whizzing by at 95km per hour on our way to the airport), and focused on those in which stencils were deployed rather than haphazardly scrawled writing which, while political, weren’t particularly artful in my opinion.

This first one is a take-off of the iconic WWII image “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” by Joseph Rosenthal. Note the anarchy symbol on the flag.

Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, Greek Graffiti, Iwo Jima Stencil

WWII, Joseph Rosenthal

Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima by Joseph Rosenthal

This one speaks for itself…
greek graffiti, athens stencil graffiti, fuck the system stencil, fuck the system
We saw this next one around town quite a bit. I assumed it was related to the economic unrest in Greece but it turns out it’s a political statement of a different flavor. A local Greek friend translated it for me – it says “Every sexist/homophobic deserves to be thrown off Lycabettus”. I thought this was pretty funny, but my Greek friend thought they took it a bit too far. For those who don’t know, Lycabettus Hill is the highest point in Athens, a sharp peak that stands 277 meters above sea level. See pictures below: the first was taken from across the city at the Acropolis, and the second is from the top of Lycabettus itself, with its perched 19th century chapel on the left and downtown Athens below.
anti-homophobia graffiti, greek graffiti, athens stencil graffiti
Lycabettus Hill, Athens highest point

view from Lycabettus hill

View from top of Lycabettus Hill


This next image has two separate stencils… I know this because I tried my darndest to translate the Greek under the image of the child and found a photo of just that stencil without the pixellated heart underneath, which must have been added later. The best translation I could come up with was something along the lines of “the ego ate”, but I’m not sure if this is a statement, or the artist’s tag.

greek graffiti, athens stencil graffiti

We saw a lot of non-political street art as well and the rest of these fall into this category. This next one, as it says, is a poem. It’s part of a “poetry game” in the city where QR codes scattered throughout Athens “invite you to discover the poetry hidden in unexpected places.” How cool is that? Scan it and you’ll see…
QR code graffiti, greek graffiti, this is a poem graffiti

This one was spotted on our way to the Acropolis.
greek graffiti, athens graffiti, athens street art

And we saw this little painting on our way to get cappuccino freddos at Clemente VIII, what the NY Times called “the best.” And I have to say, they were pretty darned delicious.
greek street art, athens street art
These last two are really cool wheatpastes…
greek graffiti, wheatpaste, greek wheatpaste, athens graffiti

This final one was actually the first piece I spotted, just a couple of blocks from our hotel, but I’ve put it last because I love it so much. End with a bang!
greek graffiti, wheatpaste, greek wheatpaste, athens graffiti

How well do you know Oakland? Name these mystery art locations.

It’s our last day abroad and we are back in the buzzing, sweltering metropolis of Athens after several days in the gorgeous Greek Isles. It’s been an amazing trip so far, and though I know the amazement will continue as we head to the Acropolis later this afternoon, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m just a tad homesick for Oakland.

So in homage to my hometown, I’m posting a small collection of random art snapshots from various locations throughout the city, and I’m curious to see how many of these you recognize.

So let me know how well you know Oakland… can you name the locations of these art pieces???  Post your answers in comments and we’ll see who gets the most right! (no cheating please)

Eyes Mural

1. Eyes Mural

Crest with Dragons

2. Dragons & Crest

Church of the Buzzard

3. First Church of the Buzzard

Metal Flower Sculpture

4. Conservashun Flower

Love Oakland Mural

5. Love Oakland Mural

Metal Man Sculpture

6. Metal Man

skull mural, black and white skull

7. Skull Mural

BANG! Happy Birthday Ol’ Gal.

Last night I witnessed the culmination of the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th birthday celebration from the deck of a tugboat, bobbing on the undulating bay.  Life is sweet.

I didn’t participate in any of the month-long or day-intensive events leading up to the evening’s pyrotechnics show, but I was inspired to not miss the grand finalé by the email blast of a friend, quoting another friend who was actually on the pyro crew for the event.

His words encapsulate the sheer awesomeness of the display far better than mine could…

I am working on the pyro crew for the event and we are putting on the largest display I have ever worked on or seen. The entire 4000 feet of the Bridge will be covered with pyro positions.  Numerous barges will be on the bay loaded to the gunnels with huge, beautiful and expensive shells that make me weep to handle…

Wow, I can not say enough about this one.
Except. You would be F—ed to miss it.

And so I went.

Here are a couple pics… not my best work, but I’m a bit out of practice and feeling quite rusty.  Maybe I need some International Orange slapped on this ol’ girl’s joints.

golden gate bridge, 75th anniversary, fireworks display, golden gate bridge celebration, golden gate bridge fireworks
fireworks on golden gate, golden gate bridge, bridge 75th anniversary, golden gate bridge birthday
golden gate bridge anniversary 2012, golden gate bridge, bridge fireworks 75th anniversary

Some great pics & history on the bridge for others, like myself, who may have missed out on the bulk of the festivities: The Color, Romance, and Impact of the Golden Gate at 75 (The Atlantic).

Mosaic Madness – LA Style

I’ve been mesmerized by mosaics for the last few weeks… I see them everywhere I go, as though they’re just taunting me to write about them.  So next week will be devoted to an exploration of mosaics, and to kick things off, check out this house I saw on my recent trip to LA…

mosaic house in santa monica, house covered in mosaicsSanta Monica Mosaic Housemosaic tiles stairs, mosaic exterior wallmosaic tiles, hollywood signtree mosaic, apple tree mosaicparrot mosaic, narwhal mosaic

“Art in the Streets” – LA Style

zebra muralI took a quick jaunt to LA this week; the trip just happened to coincide with the opening of a much ballyhooed exhibit at MOCA – what was to be “a groundbreaking exhibition of street art, the most ambitious show of its kind ever mounted in the United States.” So of course, I went!

My girlfriend and I went to the members-only opening Saturday night amidst a buzz of press and paparazzi – the line for them nearly as long as the line for new members, both of which were dwarfed by the queue for existing members with invitations. As we all waited to get in to the Geffen Contemporary (a 40,000 square foot former police car warehouse in Little Tokyo renovated by the noted California architect Frank O. Gehry, and one of three museums housed under the umbrella of MOCA), the first piece of the exhibit, itself a whirlwind of controversy, loomed large above the crowd.

You can read all about it in the LA Weekly’s “Street Art at MOCA” by Shelley Leopold, but I will summarize… the director of MOCA, Jeffrey Deitch, was tasked with the challenge of boosting new membership to the flailing museum. One idea he had was to showcase the cutting edge world of street art, and to open the show with a bang, he commissioned the Italian muralist Blu to make the entire north wall of the Geffen Contemporary his canvas. Unfortunately, what Blu chose to paint (controversial imagery of coffins draped with money) was deemed inappropriate and was later painted over by Lee Quinones along with “a handpicked contingency of dudes”, producing a native American tribute titled We the People. I actually didn’t even see this mural as it was on the backside of the building.

Lee Quinones, MOCA Street Art, coffins draped with dollars

photo right by LindsayT on Flickr

Instead our introduction to the show was the piece below… a tribute to the innovative graffiti artist BLADE. Here’s an interesting blogpost by the artist commissioned to do the piece… (Blade Tribute at the MOCA).

Jersey Joe Art, Blade Tribute, Freedom sketch for Blade Tribute

The show was quite good, although I definitely had problems with several of the installations that attempted to replicate street environments inside the museum. One in particular was a movie-set-like construction of a back alleyway, dimly lit, strewn with trash, complete with a live character hobo huddling in the corner. I don’t know if this was the actual artist having a bit of fun, or just another out of work LA actor taking any gig he could get, but either way… it was just too damn contrived.

The show comprised over 50 artists’ works over the last few decades (including early visionaries like Jean-Michel Basquiat & Keith Haring to more contemporaries like Shepard Fairey, Os Gemeos, and even Banksy), and focused on “key cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, and Sao Paulo, where a unique visual language or attitude has evolved.” You can see a complete list of artists here.

I didn’t take that many pictures because there was so much art to try and take in, it was a little overwhelming, but here are a few…

Geffen Contemporary, Street Art, Los Angeles

Roa rabbit, ROA bird, MOCA street art

ROA

stelios, street art, stelios mural

Stelios

shepard fairey, obey giant, shepard fairey installation moca

Me shooting everyone shooting Shepard Fairey

os gemeos installation, os gemeos street art, os gemeos moca

The Os Gemeos installation was huge and included instruments for the crowd to play - I played the drums! (but not as well as this 10 year old boy)

Os Gemeos at MOCA, Os Gemeos LA installation

Os Gemeos

swoon paper installation, swoon installation moca

Paper installation by Swoon

MOCA Geffen Contemporary, street art exhibit los angelesMOCA los angeles, art in the streets

If you can get down to Los Angeles in the next few months, this show will be up through August 8th.

Vacation Recap: Ahhh Kaua’i….

So you may have noticed I didn’t have a whole lot to say last week. In fact, not one small peep. I was actually on vacation and set up the week long set of posts before leaving town. I meant to give a little intro but ran out of time, so I’ll do so now…

The last six posts highlighted a slew of stickers and wheatpastes found on the small retail stretch of Lakeshore Avenue near Lake Merritt. I was amazed at how many I spotted in just a few short minutes, and also the incredible variety of styles.

My favorite was the first one posted “Country First” which was a comic-book styled political satire piece hand-drawn on a USPS sticker. Other original works included a couple classic Koleo’s, and some hand painted and/or stenciled pieces. There were also a few reproduction stickers, and lastly, a funny little piece seemingly produced by a label-making machine, stating only “Spare Me.”

Since I was out of town through the weekend, I missed the big events of Outside Lands and Oakland’s Art & Soul Festival.  I’d be curious to hear details if folks went to these, especially the Oaktownfest.

It’ll probably take me a bit to get back into the swing of things so next few posts may be a bit sporadic, but in the meantime here’s a lovely mural spotted while on vacation.  Trying to hold on to that island vibe for just a bit longer…

Kauai Humpback Whale Mural, Time for Conservation, humpback whale

Whaling Wall XXVIII, art of wyland, kauai village murals

whaling wall, humpback whale mural, kauai village mural

Wyland Whaling Wall, kauai village whaling wall, art of wyland

This mural was spotted near the town of Kapa’a on the island of Kaua’i. It was produced by the artist Wyland in 1991 as part of his environmental mission to paint 100 Whaling Walls throughout the world. His goal is to educate and inform the world about the plight of marine life, and all the images he produces are life size and accurate to the last detail of the marine habitat.

Pictured in this mural is a humpback whale and its calf along Kauai’s Na Pali Coast. The whales migrate from their Alaskan summer residences to Hawai’i each fall to birth their calves in the warm Pacific Waters before returning north in the spring.

We didn’t see any whales on this trip as it’s not the right season, but we did see (and swim with!) the beautiful and gentle green sea turtles, also pictured.

Mind the Gap

This is the first official “guest post” on Oaktown Art. Studiodeb is currently unavailable: fighting fires, undercover on assignment, drowning in a pile of little sticky notes covered in to-do lists. She will be back soon but for today you have me. Deal with it. Nothing fancy, just a mesmerizing video of an amazing spinning light machine I shot when we visited the Makers Faire a few weeks ago. Enjoy.