Areopagus: Art on the Streets
Welcome one and all to another special instalment of the Areopagus. Last week, inspired by a mural on the streets of Sofia, I asked you to send me photographs of public art. And your responses were, as ever, magnificent. There is little I need say by way of introduction other than: thank you. So, for readers new and old, I present here a delightful collection of public art from all around the world, of the murals and graffiti and sculptures that must remind us of an ancient truth about art — that it is, and always has been, everywhere.
And, if only to set the tone, I share with you here a stanza from the wild-roving poet Arthur Rimbaud, born 169 years ago today:
Let our tour of the worlds' streets commence...
These public art sculptures are Egg Heads at the University of California, Davis. I love how whimsical and fun they are. And yet, they underscore the importance of education as you can see one of them has a nose in her books.
When I took this photo, I asked on Instagram, "Do we have a local "Banksy here in Limhamn, Sweden"? This reminds me of him. The text on the police car reads "poesi" which means "poetry" in Swedish (and Danish for that matter, which I point out as I am a Dane living in Sweden). It's an old police car, like they used to look in the 70s, and police is "Polis" in Swedish. So I like how something known for order, firmness and sometimes brutality, Polis, is swapped with something soft, beautiful and melodic like Poesi. What would happen if the police were more poetic? More love and less violence?
When I was about 17yo I had o job working for Monks Construction knocking down part of the old Dock I'm hull to make way for the new bypass, this picture on the side of a shed always made me lough,I was working with some hully gully rough necks and this seemed exactly the type of humor they had, apparently ships pilots use this mural as a direction marker for many years to enter Hull docks ,its now I a cafe/centre and also a symbol of Kingstown upon Hull.
I was jogging in the morning, saw that entrance.. brief resumé of life.
Mural in Milwaukee, WI
Monte Vista NWR in the San Luis Valley of Colorado is known for its role in Sandhill Crane migration. The town of the same name has decorated its downtown area with Sandhill Crane silhouettes created by townspeople. I enjoyed most of them, my favorite was the one created out of utensils, unique amongst all of the painted works.
I've just returned from Algeria, a beautiful country with a truly fascinating history; but a history that is often not widely known beyond its borders. What little I knew before my visit was limited to viewing the excellent 1966 film The Battle of Algiers, which portrays a key moment in the brutal war of independence from France (1954-62). The first mural is of revolutionary fighter Ali Le Pointe, the hero of the film, painted on the ruins of house where he died in the Algiers kasbah. Just like the film, the mural perfectly captures his rage and defiance.
The second mural is a short distance away, next to a small football pitch in the French colonial centre of Algiers. It shows the leadership of the Algerian revolution at the dawn of what was to prove a particularly brutal and savage conflict. Their determination seems tinged with aprehansion, both for the responsibilty placed on them and the horrors that lay ahead. Half would not live to see their country free. I particularly admire how both murals have managed to show the essential humanity of their subjects, not just present them as grandiose political icons.
“Fallen Star” by Do Ho Sun is cantilevered on the roof of the University of California San Diego (UCSD)Jacob Hall Engineering building. Interesting from the outside and disorienting on the inside. My favorite part was taking two interior photos: one with the ceiling line parallel to an orientation of “level” and one where the chandelier reveals the true angle with the help of gravity. The latter was difficult to shoot because I had to correct for standing on the angle.
In every detail, a connection. I was thinking exactly about the words of a “Brazilian prophet” called Gentileza (Kindness). José Datrino, better known as Profeta Gentileza (Kindness Prophet) (Cafelândia, April 11, 1917 – Mirandópolis, May 29, 1996), was a Brazilian urban preacher, who became known for making peculiar inscriptions on the pillars of a viaduct in Rio de Janeiro, and became something of a personality in that city. “Kindness breeds kindness” is his best-known phrase.
Beco do Batman (Batamn's Alley) in São Paulo - Brazil.I don't know the origins of the name, but I know the region attracts lots of tourists. I have mixed feelings about it.
For my public art submission I present the Famine memorial in Dublin City. I work just across the river so i pass this by regularly and it always evokes emotion, whether pity, anger or sadness. the rendition of the figures, larger than life gives a momentous sense to the viewer - for irish people the famine was the defining event of our history that stalled the economic, cultural and societal progress of our nation. Those we lost to starvation and emigration reverberate down the generations. the figures are pathetic in their poverty and yet they trudged from all points to ports to escape, carrying scraps or as one of the figures is doing here, carrying a child that has died on the journey. The politics of that event are still debated - but this memorial shows that at the basic level, it was human suffering.
Cabo Verde I think. More than a touch of Picasso?I have a whole album of street art! From wherever I've travelled.
I came across this piece of graffiti art on Graffiti Street or Werregarenstraat, in Ghent, Belgium. Werregarenstraat is a legal space for graffiti art and such a beautiful walk. There is so much talent displayed along the whole walk.
I find black and white pieces of graffiti art are incredibly effective at creating a sensational mood. The images seem to be more dramatic because there aren't colors to distract the eye. The contrast between the blacks, grays, and whites gives the graffiti art a strong visual impact.
Not "street art" anymore because it is in the Galleria dell'Accademia, but when Michelangelo's David was first unveiled in 1504 it was outside the Palazzo Vecchio in the middle of Florence, which was the town hall of the city. It stayed there until the 19th century when it was moved to its current place, and a replica was put in the original spot outside the Palazzo Vecchio.
In my hometown in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, there is an urban-art project that illustrates beautifully what you bring in your excerpt.
It’s the CURA, in free translation: healing project, an attempt to “heal” the gray urban center bringing some courageous and daring artists to color some windowless façades in the downtown area. Relatively recent (since 2017), it brought a lot of life, color, movement and attention to the center, where today is also after comercial hours very alive.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find the website in english, here it is in portuguese: https://cura.art
Scrolling down, it is easy to find the artists names and their works.
I live in a small coastal city north of Lisbon named Torres Vedras and near this small city there's a town named Lourinhã with some lovely beaches and in one of these beaches called Praia da Areia Branca, portuguese artista named Vhils sculped the portrait of portuguese Nobel prize winner José Saramago beautifully on the pier, I personally don't have any photos of this, so I googled it and found it on Vhils own website a video, so watch it if you will or look for a photo, it's amazing.
Question of the Week
And for this week's question, aimed at spreading knowledge rather than the usual test of your critical thinking...
What is one book you think everybody should read?
Email me your answers and I'll share them in next week's newsletter.
And that's all
The world is filled with beauty and meaning, if only we raise our eyes to see them! That seems to have been the message of this week's Areopagus, and it is one I am only too glad to share with you. Perhaps, then, it is to John Keats and his legendary Ode on a Grecian Urn that we should turn for our closing words today:
Fare thee well, dear Readers, and until Friday next I bid you my best.
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