Somewhere in the labyrinthian streets and alleys of the Gothic Barrio of Barcelona you will find this exuberant exclamation…
Sometimes the alleyways are more interesting than the main streets. So it was on my recent visit to Cheyenne, Wyoming.
I would rank “The Buffalo” (2015?) as one of the two best urban street murals to be found in the City of Cheyenne (“The Cherub”–below–being the other). This one is a creation of Jordan Dean–his first, apparently–and can be found behind the Paramount Cafe. Spectacular…
On the left wing of the “Buffalo Mural” you’ll find this optical illusion done by Dan Toro (that link goes to an impressive video of yet another of Toro’s unique projects) in support of Dean’s big wall work…no, the band can’t really enter through that door…
You don’t need to look too closely to spot where Jordan Dean finally exits stage left…
Ernie November is a music, T-shirt, and “other cool stuff” shop in the downtown area. You won’t see this unless you wander the alley…
Another one you won’t see unless you check out the back entrance–Legend Comics & Coffee…
Now, to hark back to days of yore…These vertical billboards are now called “fading ads”, “brick ads”, or “ghost signs” and are an endangered species throughout the country, but a number can still be found throughout downtown Cheyenne. I wrote a short blog post about these old signs, with some background, history, and details, way back in 2013: See Henry George Cigars, December 8, 2013.
In the example below you can clearly read the “Drink Coca Cola” slogan above left, but the “Bull Durham Smoking Tobacco” paint is a bit more difficult to discern…
“Delicious and refreshing”–it must have been Cheyenne’s official soft drink…
When Cheyenne built the big Frontier Mall out north of the airport in 1981, it spelled the doom of many of the small (and even larger) businesses in the downtown area. A story repeated ad nauseam elsewhere throughout our fair land of enthusiastic real estate investors and moguls. Alas, the 2008 recession hasn’t helped things in the urban revitalization department and many city center storefronts here are still vacant.
However, the City of Cheyenne seems to be working in the right direction and there are plenty of signs that downtown life is stirring–theaters (the melodrama!), cafes, small specialty shops, many scheduled events and activities (Frontier Days!), music, and so on. The obvious centerpiece is the renovated Union Pacific Railroad Depot Museum and Plaza, but the Mural Project is certainly another essential part of the program.
For those under the age of, say, 25-years-old, this is for you.
The above “thing” is called a pay phone. They were very common back in the primitive days before mobile phones became ubiquitous. Nowadays it is quite rare to find one still alive and connected. This example is on Pearl Street, in downtown Boulder, Colorado.
The idea was that you could stop, stuff a dime (four quarters today) in the slot, dial a number by punching those square metal buttons, and communicate, using the handle-like thing, with whomever struck your fancy. Unfortunately, you couldn’t walk while you talked as the rectangular box was permanently affixed to the wall–so you just stood there, leaned against it, and chatted away.
Another cool pay phone triviality: When a call didn’t go through, your coin(s) would fall into the little change return box at the bottom. Many callers would forget to retrieve their coins after a failed call. So, check that little box when you walk by–you might get lucky and pick up some free change!
Now the brief note about “SMILE”…
Note the intricate portrait of the face and hand that has been painted on the right side of the pay phone box. It appears to be signed “SME”, but if you look closely, the signature actually says “SMILE”. This is apparently a local graffiti artist and you will find his/her heart-warming work all up and down Pearl Street and elsewhere in town if you take the time to look. If someone knows who he or she might be and whether or not he/she has a website I can link to, please let me know. (A cursory internet search with Ms. Google revealed a mountain of images posted by admirers, but no indication of identity.)
Is that really Homer Simpson offering up this profound tidbit? Nah…must just be pure coincidence that his countenance finds itself next to these words.
Translation, and the thought o’ the day:
“…and the heart has reasons that reason itself will never understand.”
“The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls.” –Simon and Garfunkle
A few local examples from around the Mendoza metro area…
Some good advice here, maybe?
This next one could be roughly translated, “To be a fan of the local Godoy Cruz soccer club is to live a constant party.” Bodeguero also can mean the person in charge of a winery as was the original sponsor-founder of this football club (Antonio Tomba)–some double meaning going on there. Godoy Cruz is the only Mendoza-area soccer team to have made it into the First Division (the Big Leagues) in Argentina, so they now play River Plate, Boca Juniors, and the other big money powerhouses of this soccer-mad country:
From an impulsive Eric Clapton fan and likely guitar novice:
This one could apply directly to those photographers who constantly fret about the Rule of Thirds:
The caption below this moving street portrait read (translated), “Not submissive, not devout…but Free, Beautiful, and Crazy!”
Hmmm…one might want to take this piece of advice with a small block of sea salt, depending of course on the country in which you live:
The following is related to the impact of the “Dirty War” with its human rights violations and thousands of desaparecidos. The idea is, “Build memories, defend memories, walk with the memories, share the memories, and defend the memories…Maintain a focused gaze”:
This is certainly a very current theme in the USA and in Europe: “They gift us fear so as to sell us security.”
“To refuse an abortion if your life is in danger is a crime.”
This confused me initially until I realized that Néstor Chávez was not an individual. Instead, this refers to Argentine ex-President Néstor Kirchner and the ex-President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez (both now deceased). The quote is roughly, “Great patriotism lives within its people.”
Finally, I am not sure about the meaning here, but I liked the extraterrestrial look of this little blue guy:
The Barcelona beachfront is a photographer’s garden o’ unearthly earthly delights–or so thinks I. From the hump and castle of Montjuic and the main commercial port area, through the Vila Olímpica/Port Olímpic tourist zone, to the giant solar panel at the Museu Blau, there is plenty to explore–waves, “rompeolas” and “espigones“, graffiti par excellence, varied architecture, shadows, sand, fishermen, surfers, sunbathers, and of course always the sea…
This morning’s exploration took me to a section of the beach that has yet to be cleaned up and developed, essentially straight out and slightly north from the Selva de Mar Metro stop on Line 4 (yellow). The area borders Parc del Forum.
A few days before, I had discovered a couple of unofficial “fisherman gates” in the fencing that would let me in to my objective.
Here are some images from today’s morning light show:
This is a protected area of the sea often used by snorkelers. Venus watches over the twilight and the coming dawn. A long shutter speed smooths the surface of the water…
As the day brightens with the approach of the sun, one small sample of patriotic graffiti stands out…
A nuclear sunrise on a peaceful Mediterranean sea…
This is one of my favorite graffitis in the area–the “Old Man and the Sea”, I call it. For this image, I used a 9-stop neutral density filter and kept the shutter open for something like 25-30 seconds to calm the wave action on the blocks…
Yes, good times were had by all…by me, by the three fishermen on the espigón, and by the two snorkelers under the water or around the corner out there somewhere. This is another image in which I used the 9-stop ND filter to smooth the water…
Selective color…is it a gimmick? This is definitely an ongoing debate as I alluded in yesterday’s post. Here are some more examples from around Barcelona for you to consider.
First, the concrete anti-erosion cubes around the Hotel W (“Hotel Vela”) and the port area piers–they are rich with artistic graffiti:
Another example from the same area:
A remote graffiti site on a foot trail below the Carretera de les Aigües above Barcelona:
Standard street graffiti in the Bogatell area from some years back complaining of the policies of Zapatero (ex Socialist Prime Minister of Spain) and “Klos” (Likely Joan Clos, one of Zapatero’s Ministers…the graffiti: “Klos and Zapatero also lie.”):
Finally, how about the technique of using 100% color on the main subject (the terrorific, skeletal face on the rooftop), but 50% color on the background? This creates a color image with a different look. Does it work?
Hopefully this has given you some food for thought about what you might try (or not!) with your images. Thanks for visiting.
For me, anyway, this day (Jan 16) was the last dive into photography in Barcelona on this particular trip. We will be back in Colorado by the time you read this post. The result of the afternoon’s photo walk: two images from the pier known as Espigó de Bogatell, just north of the Port Olímpic area.
I’m not sure about the meaning of the above graffiti with the diver with perfect form. The location certainly isn’t a safe one for swimming, diving, or even wading, what with the sea crashing into all the giant concrete wave-barrier cubes. It only looks calm in my photograph because a long exposure (26 seconds, 10-stop filter on a cloudy day) smoothed out the wave action. Maybe it really was the location of someone’s last dive?
A few meters away you’ll see the 1911 graffiti (image below) and this does have a certain significance. It relates to the date of the founding congress of the National Confederation of Labor (CNT) in Spain, a Marxist-anarchist movement, with Catalunya as its epicenter. You can read up on the details of this movement HERE. Spain and especially Catalunya have had a long history of anarchist and Marxist activity and thought, and you’ll still see graffiti today that reflects the fact that these ideas are not completely lifeless (though they are on life support amongst a fairly small minority of the population).
Selective Color: Yes or No?
I have mixed feelings about the use of partial color in photography…that is, painting back the color into portions of a black and white image as I did in these two pictures. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Many times I think it is overdone and falls into the trap of gimmickry so I’m not entirely sure I should be doing it with these and my other graffiti images from the Hotel Vela area (I’ll post some of these tomorrow). I can’t seem to help myself, though, as it is a way of attracting the eye to the main subject (the graffiti) and de-emphasizing, yet still retaining, a sense of the context within the land/city/seascape.
So, the jury is still out to lunch at the Walnut Café (shameless plug for a great Boulder breakfast place) on whether or not I’ll continue to do this.
Perhaps some struggling writer came to the above location for inspiration?
Or, how about this blanket philosophical commentary on the general state of the human condition:
Finally, maybe the answer to all the big question is much more simple…as in a “stairway to love”?