Barcelona Graffiti

It is considered a nuisance in the United States, a hooligan hobby, tactless maiming of public and private property. However, in Barcelona graffiti has garnered respect in its own right. Already known for its stunning local artistry by Antoni Gaudi and Salvador Dalí, the streets of Barcelona boast another form of art. Colorful graffiti can be found all over the city, from delivery trucks to heavy, wooden doors but the most popular canvases, by far, are store shutters. Unlike my native Kansas City, the city of Barcelona has been thriving for millennia and so the pastelería where I get my daily croissant is in a building that predates the founding of my country. Naturally, space in any building in Barcelona is at a premium so many shops, restaurants and markets are roughly the size of my living room.  For security sake they have metal shutters that come down in front of their door and window display. This has become home to vibrant and resourceful artwork.

Overall I have found that Barcelona’s street graffiti can be separated into two categories: image art and word art.  The image based artwork ranges from windmills to beautiful women to polar bears to pandas to robots.  Based on signs over the tiendas some of the artwork reflects what the store sells such as cosmetics, but many appear to just be the whimsy of the artist.  Word art not only covered store shutters but building doors, mailboxes and trucks. Sometimes an entire word or signature would engulf the canvas and others had a hodgepodge of words piled on top of each other. Street graffiti has a self-sustained democracy, because it is genuinely considered art among graffitists.  The largest pieces, generally image based, are left untouched while canvases with signatures and words are more likely to be covered up by other words. However, the resulting collage of words and paint produce an equally appealing work of art.

Within the democratic world of graffiti, certain artists have risen to mild amounts of fame in Barcelona and Spain. One of the most well known artists goes by the name “Pez” which means fish in Spanish. His most famous works incorporate not only his namesake, but demons, aliens, angels and giraffes. The signature wide grinning characters became so popular that he began traveling to other cities of his native country including Madrid, Pamplona, Las Palmas, Valencia, Bilbao and Sevilla.  His artwork caught the eye of art galleries in Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin and Milan.  In the early to mid 2000s Pez traveled to South American, and Asia with the K-Swiss painting tour.  He currently works at art festivals and galleries internationally.

Because of its popularity, many stores commissioned artists to paint their store shutters. However, the city council of Barcelona sees graffiti differently. “The law regards graffiti as something that soils the public space, devalues our heritage and visually degrades the urban fabric,” (Guardian, 7/12/10).  Shopkeepers who paid for their shutter art, ended up paying upwards of €600 in fines for “degrading urban fabric”.

But seriously what does that even mean?

Unlike the stuffy councilmen of Barcelona, I found street graffiti to be a lively and colorful way for the people to leave their mark in a bustling city where it is easy to get lost in its history, culture, and long winding streets.

 

 

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Barcelona/Málaga- Day 5

After a plane, a train and an automobile we finally made it to the seaside town of Málaga, on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Once settled in our hotel, a smallish largish group of us went to lunch where Sherene’s quest for french fries was foiled for the 3rd time in a row. Afterwards I went back for a little tiger snooze and woke up at 9:00pm and consoled myself with a trip to a heladería down the street. No pictures today but stay tuned tomorrow. 

Barcelona – Day 4

This morning we ventured to La Mercat de Boquería which was gorgeous. There were at least 50 stands with spices, fruits, meat, fish, pastries and foreign delicacies.  It was an incredible place to see traditional Spanish cuisine. After a quick jaunt through Las Ramblas we visited the Picasso Muesum. It was unbelievable how many pieces of his work they had. Starting from age 8, all the way to his final works, the museum had vases, plates, canvases and early sketches. My only regret is that I did not buy the entire collection of chocolate.  

A sweets stand at la Mercat de Boquería.

A sweets stand at la Mercat de Boquería.

Can I be her?

Can I be her?

Butcher shaves meat off a pig leg.

Butcher shaves meat off a pig leg.

Abundant fruit at the Mercat de Boquería.

Abundant fruit at the Mercat de Boquería.

Woman from neighboring stand visits with the fish vendor.

Woman from neighboring stand visits with the fish vendor.

Ingrid imitates the fish at the market.

Ingrid imitates the fish at the market.

The hefty pile of cumin at the spices stand. My flatmate later bought a small amount. Everything she touches smells like curry now.

The hefty pile of cumin at the spices stand. My flatmate later bought a small amount. Everything she touches smells like curry now.

Hip gentleman peruses the meat selection.

Hip gentleman peruses the meat selection.

A vibrant side street near the Picasso Museum

A vibrant side street near the Picasso Museum

People protesting Monsanto because of their policy on genetically altered food wore Guy Fawkes masks.

People protesting Monsanto because of their policy on genetically altered food wore Guy Fawkes masks.

Carrer de Montcada

Carrer de Montcada

Barcelona- Day 3

This was day two of our two day bus passes so we used it as much as we could. We actually made it inside the Sagrada Familia and it was gorgeous. We even went up in an elevator shaft for 4.50 and got hands down one of the best views of Barcelona. After that a fairly large groups of us grabbed a quick lunch and took the bus to Park Güell, designed by Gaudi. Again, awesome views and more tourists than should be allowed by law. After a personalized FC Barco jersey fiasco we returned home, got dolled up and I dragged the group to a sketchy neighborhood that promised good eats. We didn’t find the place I was looking for but we found a great arrosseria (a restaurant specializing in rice dishes).

The stained glass at la Sagrada Familia cast gorgeous light.

The stained glass at la Sagrada Familia cast gorgeous light.

Guadi building and skyline at Park Güell

Guadi building and skyline at Park Güell

The beautiful city of Barcelona from la Sagrada Familia

The beautiful city of Barcelona from la Sagrada Familia

Sam got comfy with the locals.

Sam got comfy with the locals.

View from the window at the top of la Sagrada Familia

View from the window at the top of la Sagrada Familia

A headless street performer sits near the Park Güell

A headless street performer sits near the Park Güell

Another view of the architecture at la Sagrada Familia

Another view of the architecture at la Sagrada Familia

A view of the city from Park Güell

A view of the city from Park Güell

View from the top of Park Güell

View from the top of Park Güell

Skyview of Barcelona from la Sagrada Familia

Skyview of Barcelona from la Sagrada Familia

Street performer at Park Güell.

Street performer at Park Güell.

Center crucifix at la Sagrada Familia

Center crucifix at la Sagrada Familia

View of Barcelona from the tippy top of La Sagrada Familia

View of Barcelona from the tippy top of La Sagrada Familia

Ceiling of la Sagrada Familia

Ceiling of la Sagrada Familia

Ceiling of la Sagrada Familia

Ceiling of la Sagrada Familia

This wa

Barcelona- Day 2

This morning we woke up and hoped a tour bus that took us almost all the way around Barcelona. We stopped at La Plaça de Catalunya and found a tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant where the staff spoke no English and so I ordered some very interesting food unintentionally.  Although I tried to piece together, “Does this fish comes with the head?” I only got deer in the headlights so I just ended up with fish… and fish heads. Afterwards Leah and I hopped on the bus again and saw the outside of la Sagrada Familia.  Later Leah, Sam and I got back on the bus and went to la Plaça de Espanya and explored the Museu National d’art Catalunya. 

 

Classmate Sam does a little "monkey see, monkey do" at the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya.

Classmate Sam does a little “monkey see, monkey do” at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.

Fountains on the steps at Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya.

Fountains on the steps at Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.

Columbus

Statue of Christopher Coloumbus pointing at America. He is wearing a FC Barca shirt and is pointing in the wrong direction.

Statue of Christopher Coloumbus pointing at America. He is wearing a FC Barca shirt and is pointing in the wrong direction.

Side street near where we got lunch off the Plaça de Catalunya

Side street near where we got lunch off the Plaça de Catalunya

A couple enjoys the Plaça de Catalunya.

A couple enjoys the Plaça de Catalunya.

The posterior view of La Sagrada de Familia by Antoni Gaudí.

The posterior view of La Sagrada de Familia by Antoni Gaudí.

Woman on the steps of Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya.

Woman on the steps of Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.

Statue overlooks Barcelona at the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya.

Statue overlooks Barcelona at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.

Leah and I went pastry hunting in the neighborhood near la Sagrada de Familia.

Leah and I went pastry hunting in the neighborhood near la Sagrada de Familia.

I don't know them.

I don’t know them.

Classmates, Ingrid and Leah, get ready for an exciting day!

Classmates, Ingrid and Leah, get ready for an exciting day!

I tried fish. With the scales on it. It wasn't bad! (Photo by Ingrid Holmquist)

I tried fish. With the scales on it. It wasn’t bad! (Photo by Ingrid Holmquist)

Hilltop shot during our bus tour. The guide said this area was built to resemble old Barcelona.

Hilltop shot during our bus tour. The guide said this area was built to resemble old Barcelona.

Geometric patios.

Geometric patios.

Look out for me in the background of a movie or telenovela.

Look out for me in the background of a movie or telenovela.

Classmate Sydney admires the great view on our tour bus.

Classmate Sydney admires the great view on our tour bus.

Anterior view of the Sagrada de Familia by Antoni Gaudí.

Anterior view of the Sagrada de Familia by Antoni Gaudí.

Front view of the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya.

Front view of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.

Barcelona – Day 1

We all flew into Barcelona at about 9:30 this morning.  We blew through customs like it was our job and then we got on a charter bus to our apartments in the neighborhood of Plaça de Sants. Plaça de Sants is smack dab in the middle of Barcelona with close access to the red line Metro. After settling in we had a little siesta, found a pastry shop, ate our finds and went on a tour of Old Barcelona. We hit the new Ramblas, which is mostly name brand designer boutiques, and we eventually made our way to the original “Las Ramblas” where it was filled with small boutiques and restaurants.  We stopped at la Catedral de Barcelona and grabbed tapas in the Jewish neighborhood. 

 

 

A display in Las Ramblas, showing off it's cutlerly and scissor inventory.

A display in Las Ramblas, showing off it’s cutlerly and scissor inventory.

Fashionable mannequin on El Paseo de Gracias.

Fashionable mannequin on El Paseo de Gracias.

Three mannequins watch passersby on El Paseo de Gracia.

Three mannequins watch passersby on El Paseo de Gracia.

Ingrid Holmquist is approached my street performer.

Ingrid Holmquist is approached my street performer.

Ingrid Holmquist gets flirty.

Ingrid Holmquist gets flirty.

There is a wide selection of fruits and vegetables at la Mercat de Boqueria.

There is a wide selection of fruits and vegetables at la Mercat de Boqueria.

A colorful fruit stand at la Mercat de Boqueria.

A colorful fruit stand at la Mercat de Boqueria.

Man orders at a butcher stand in la Mercat de Boqueria.

Man orders at a butcher stand in la Mercat de Boqueria.