No Man’s Art – Fotopost

9 03 2013

It’s spring, it’s here, I’m calling it. There’s the usual culprits, so much rain and genuine licks of sunlight, and that old onion we planted in the windowsill is actually honest-to-god sprouting. And I’m out, taking the pulse of the city, finding it still alive, we’re still here, estamos vivos, parece. Me too.

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No man’s art next door. An invitation to climb into the insistent sky.

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Wholesale mannequin parade. Readymade framing. Coiffed and poised.

Madrid, as of late: Fotopost

25 01 2012

Plaza Santa Ana photo expo in the afternoon sun.

Dada on c/ Bernardo López.

Partial inhabitant of barrio Conde Duque.

One of the city’s variety of authors.

Public Art in Madrid, Part Two: Mixed Media

23 10 2011

Madrid isn’t internationally renowned for its public art scene, but there’s a certain creative spontaneity wafting through its corridors that keeps me hot on the scent of evolving expression. The second half of this two-part photo series focuses on Madrid’s colorful imagination as expressed through alternative mediums, such as paste-ups, scratch art, photography, and accidental beauty. The first half can be found over at the blog of, where I did a guest post regarding some of my favorite painted discoveries throughout the city.


Paste-ups are a versatile street art strategy, allowing for off-site assembly and quick placement. Designs are previously printed, drawn, or constructed on thin sheets of paper, then affixed to the designated surface using a mixture of cornflour and water, similar in composition to walpaper paste. It’s the same stuff you see workers using to put up advertisements around town, repurposed in the name of public art. This shawled figure and her bird guard over calle Lavapiés.


This small piece’s retro-cartoon flair is complemented by the tattered out-of-use door in barrio La Latina.


Paste-ups tend to be way-up, keeping their vulnerable edges away from grabby fingers. As such, they frequently perch high and dry for lengthy periods of time.


However, sometimes even the most high and mighty take a nosedive.


Stencils are another frequent strategy to rapidly transfer art into the public sphere. For whatever reason, most stencil work I see in Madrid tends to be radically political in nature; this battleaxe wielding woman proclaims “Critical Cunt” (a word which is a million times milder in Spanish, by the way).


Someone’s indignation that “Japan kidnaps children” is foiled by Iñaki’s sharpie’d response that he kidnaps Italian girls.


These scuffed frames in southern La Latina are unique as far as I know, a striking series of modern antiquity. Each one holds a yellowing print showcasing aspects of Olde Europe.


Disregarding the rainbow “cerrajero” (locksmith) melange seemingly coating each and every metal pole in the city, stickers are a common, low-risk strategy used to quickly spread an artist’s style. The duck head is absolutely everywhere; I’m pretty sure I even spotted it during my recent foray to Berlin.


This series of four is the only instance I’ve come across of printed photographs as street expression. Based on my experience in the darkroom, I doubt they weather moisture too gallantly; not too sure that they’ll fare well through the winter.


Scratching away bits from swaths of solid color to reveal image in negative is a way to achieve striking, detailed results. The concept is the same as those multi-hued sheets of paper covered in black wax that you doodled on as a kid; in the hands of an expert, this kind of quietly stunning work is the result.


Scratch artists often choose human faces as subject, coaxing unbelievably realistic textures out of nothing at all.


Combining techniques here beckons a shy woman’s visage to peer out from surrounding chaos.


Not sure what the original approach was here, but I like it. An eye, tucked in a Lavapiés nook, that doesn’t seem to care whether it sees anything or not.


This ghostly guy is carved into a concrete façade in a Malasaña street crawling with botellón-happy revelers at night. Seems like he’s ripe for some color; I’d watch this one for sudden updates.


Some of Madrid’s advertisements traipse all over the line between the tainted world of commercialism and pure imagination. These two are hidden down an alley in that no-man’s-land of wholesale shops between La Latina and Tirso de Molina. The style totally kicks; the alley totally stinks. Madrid is due for some serious rain, and soon.


Occasionally the ads need just a little push in the right direction. This begoggled beauty is near Antón Martín.


Seen here are further stickers, plus a pair of parodic public service announcements. Madrid’s been running ads for some months now proclaiming, “Respetemos y apoyemos a nuestros profesores” (Let’s respect and support our teachers), evidently in response to an investigation that revealed that professors were regularly insulted in 74% of high schools, taking it as far as physical aggression in 13%. Yikes and yikes.

Recent educational reforms have meant budget cuts across the board, resulting in mass firings and subsequent enormous class sizes (among other things, but that’s perhaps for a seperate post). A good green-shirted portion of the city’s up in arms in a tidal wave response, including the above-pictured parody: “Despidamos y humillemos a nuestros profesores” (Let’s fire and humiliate our teachers).


Is accidental art a genre? How might it interact with found art? At what point does it become “art”? Does it have more value in being so recognized?

Good questions. Don’t know. Don’t think the sexy dog knows.

For more, take a gander at Part One of the Public Art in Madrid series, a guest post I did for, wherein I explore Madrid’s public spaces awash in the more traditional expressive medium of paint.

Street Art/Vandalism, Take Two

22 02 2011

Previous urban decoration documentation.

This –

– is where –

– I live.

Winter Break: Lost Photos Edition

16 02 2011

The famous white walls of Córdoba.

Lovely, and Typical.

Gambones, munched shell-and-all on the shore of el río Guadalquivir.

Contemplating eternity in the head of a fishie.

crunch crunch crunch

I love
the little bitty fishies

Partridge foie.

Late night spot of tea in Granada.

On the winding climb to La Alambra.

Also on the climb to La Alambra.

Flowers everywhere.

The way into heaven.

País Vasco/La Rioja: Brushstrokes and Spray Paint

18 12 2010

País Vasco/La Rioja Introduction here.

In this exquisite corner of the earth, the creative energy so playful within the realm of gastronomy unsurprisingly extends itself into official institutes of Capital-A Art as well.

Bilbao’s metal-petaled Guggenheim is a major architectural treat both inside and out. The many distinctive folds of the form make for fascinating chambers within, many of which house pieces specifically designed to fit the particular angles and curves of the building. Some of the rooms are intensely powerful – we walk away stunned from one photography exhibit in particular – but the overall quality of the place is a bit impish, a successfully sprightly counterpart to comparatively musty Serious Art Spaces elsewhere. It’s perhaps best modeled in Koons’ gigantic Puppy made entirely of flowering plants and standing fragrant guard at the entrance.

On Couchsurfer Muriel’s suggestion, we poke our heads into the Artium during our day in Vitoria, País Vasco’s somehow often-overlooked capital.

Inside, I am particularly called by this piece, which spans an entire wall. Sam, classical art aficionado, notes my fascination and inquires – what is it that I find successful about modernity?

I respond that it’s not modernity in itself that captures my attention, but rather presenting forms in innovative ways such that they cause me to consider what I already know in a new light. Sam’s uncomfortable with the lack of context in many contemporary works, because it often leaves the meaning unclear. For me, this is exactly what makes them so successful – when they work best, they invite the audience to develop its own relationship with the art in the moment of experience. To me, this piece summons thoughts on prayer, femininity and the female body, what it is to ask for something, dreams, the ways in which ideas are and are not connected to each other, and where thoughts go when we project them into the world, among other things. It isn’t that I come to any specific conclusions, but I cherish the creative time spent considering the prompt.

Detail from another successful piece for me; the entire work is at least four times this size. Leah comments that this is a faithful rendition of her brain.

I see open-ended commentary on architecture, and I’m reminded of the climactic scene in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I consider a house made of sea and light.

As is likely evident by now, my personal favorite encounters with creativity are in public spaces, where it can be interwoven with the mundane and the daily (as opposed to officialized, institutionalized). Vitoria is replete with multi-story murals, rainbow paints and glittering tiles spanning the hilly streets. Many feature the multiple languages spoken in the region, English and Castellano phrases at play with Basque, all pockmarked with X’s and K’s and top-hatted A’s.

This, on the other hand. The other other hand. No, I don’t want to get my hands anywhere near that. Vitoria, why??

Both Muriel and I are seduced by Vitoria’s extremely well-designed publicity. I’m pretty sure this one’s calling for some variety of protest; isn’t it a thousand times more attractive than the red and white that papered Madrid pre-huelga?

And then there’s the straight-up graffiti, which I absolutely adore when it’s clever. This one (“Put spicy in your life“) is just off Calle Laurel in Logroño. I’m considering printing it out for display in my kitchen.

On a playground in Vitoria (“Stop complaining and act, asshole!“).

Yes, he does. In Donostia-San Sebastián.

Street Art/Vandalism

29 11 2010

Madrid is full of incredible street art, ranging from this hyperdetailed saxophonist in Malasaña…


… to this lonely pair o’ peepers in Delicias…

… to this colorful queen on Ronda de Embajadores…

… to this exemplary piece of metro vandalism in Callao…

… to the unintentional beauty in an excess of anuncios near Gran Vía.