Street art

San Francisco bits and pieces 2014

This to me is not repulsive but the funk of the city.

Walking the streets of San Francisco brought strong smells of pot smoke and urine almost everywhere. This to me is not repulsive but the funk of the city. It is a part of the street culture here as it is a part in one way or another of many street cultures the world around. Homelessness and drug use have always be intrinsic to street culture and San Francisco is rich with street culture. On many of the city blocks San Francisco shows off the street art of this small but great American city. The art is a mix of psychedelic imagery, political statements, memories and messages. It provides a vibrant reflection of the people who inhabit the city.

Along 7th, Market and many of the surrounding streets live a lot of the city's homeless communities which are squeezed by the growing tech industry and its population. I found a lot of graffiti pieces and RIP art pieces. Most of them were in back streets and alley ways.

The Mission district displays a large proportion of Latino street art but there is also a good mix of visual art and political messages from many walks of life.

Up in Haight can be found hippy knickknacks, hip and vintage clothing, great record stores and a bunch of places to eat and drink along with sporadic colorful pieces.

Although there is a vibrant art culture here I can't help but wonder if San Francisco like many other artistic hubs will fade into a gentrified upmarket version of what it once was. I wonder whether the street art will remain and if it does, will it continue to be as varied and magnificent.

Written by William Riever, 2014-02-17


Berlin bits and pieces 2013

A quick glance will show you very little but a wash of grit, mixed color and confusion.

I love the aesthetic of Berlin and in particular the East of Berlin. It reminds me of the areas I grew up. A bit like Newtown in Sydney, Australia in the late 80s and early 90s but on a much bigger scale. There is a heavy punk influence which is clearly displayed on the walls almost everywhere you look and in particular in the content of the messages that can be found.

The street art ranges from badly executed tags to repeated stencils to huge murals that cover the entire side of large buildings. What I love in particular is that there is almost always something new to be found in the details. There is always new work to be found that has sprung up since last visiting.

Once you get past the facade there is a good amount of political statement to be found, although I suspect this has been on the decline. There are numerous versions of anti Nazi symbols and feral punk themed messages. On the image side there is a plethora of hallucinogenic influenced pieces and animated characters to be found. I really enjoy that thought has been put into the placement of some of characters as they often appear to be peeking out from behind walls, bins and bushes. Sometimes they are even cleverly placed within other larger pieces and pop out at you once you spend a little time looking. Berlin street art really reward the persistent and investigative. Looking inside abandoned and broken buildings. Scouring alleys and murky industrial areas almost always reveals the most interesting work.

I think of the cities street and night life a lot like the street art. A quick glance will show you very little but a wash of grit, mixed color and confusion. If you spend some time and look into the details, you'll find a wonderful, thick and immersive street culture. Look long enough and you find almost anything that you could want.

Written by William Riever, 2013-12-28