Postcard from Los Angeles: All the Street Art

You don’t need to head to the Getty or the Broad to see some fabulous art in Los Angeles. Just looking around you, you can’t help but notice a ton of great murals adorning the urban landscape throughout the city. Here are a few cool pieces that I stumbled upon during my recent stay in Los Angeles. 

Spotted: Space Invader in Los Angeles

I grew up in the Marais, so I have razor sharp eyes when it comes to spotting a Space invader piece. This particular one can be seen near the Black Cat in Silver Lake. Also in Silverlake, these colourful staircases. 52 staircases lace the hillsides of Silver Lake, dating back to a time when most residents didn’t have cars. Two of them, #StairTempo and the Micheltorena Stairs, received a boost of bright colours by local artist Corrine Carrey.  

Piano Keyboard staircase in Silverlake

Colorful staircase in Silver Lake

Elliott Smith Mural in Silver Lake

This image appeared on the cover of his Elliott Smith’s 2000 album, “Figure 8,” the last album he would release before his apparent suicide in his Echo Park home. Since then, the “Elliott Smith” wall outside of Solutions electronics on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake . 

It’s hard to miss the Guelaguetza restaurante in K-Town. I mean, check out these bright orange walls and the awesome murals that also adorn it.

Mural on the facade of facade of La Guelaguetza restaurant in KTown

Lapiztola mural on the facade of facade of La Guelaguetza in KtownLa Guelaguetza restaurant in KTown

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The restaurant itself has been around for over 20 years and in March 2013, its owners invited Colectivo LaPiztola, a pair of Oaxacan artists, to paint a mural, which features a young girl and boy in traditional Oaxacan clothes, and depicts a guelaguetza – the girl is offering corn to the boy, who is holding a chicken. Colette Miller later added some of her famous Global Wings Project wings, and I was very sad that I didn’t have anyone to take my picture with them when I was there 😦

There’s quite a few Shepard Fairey murals in Los Angeles, but one of the most striking is Peace Tree, this 10-story mural gracing the facade of the Line Hotel, also in Los Angeles’s Koreatown.

Peace Tree mural at the Line Hotel by Shepard Fairey

The Line Hotel is a vibrant new(ish) hotel on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Normandie Avenue, in the heart of Koreatown. In addition to the Shepard Fairey mural, it has some pretty cool art inside as well as a hidden D*Face mural called “Look Into My Eyes” on the exterior.  I *loved* spotting that one! 

D*Face Mural at the Line Hotel in Los Angeles

Sticking with pretty famous street artist, I had read about an Einstein mural by Kobra, on the wall outside Mr. Brainwash’s studio. When I got there, I found a Muhammad Ali tribute mural by Mr. Brainwash there instead, which was cool too… 

Mohamed Ali Mural outside of Mr Brainwash's studio

For a sight of a Kobra mural, I headed to 1220 N. Highland Avenue instead, where the Brazilian artist covered an entire side of the LGBT Youth Center and Annex with a 4,300 square-foot mural featuring the eyes of different Nobel Laureates and champions of peace.

Eduardo Kobramural on the Los Angeles LGBT Center

And for the last two pieces of Los Angeles street art that caught my eyes: the Love L.A. Skyline mural, located right across from the entrance of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
Loca L.A. Wall

And the largest stretch of the original Berlin Wall in the world outside of Berlin.
Wende’s Wall Project which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall Ten segments from the Berlin Wall are currently displayed at 5900 Wilshire Boulevard as part of the Wende’s Wall Project which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 2009. As part of the project, the Wende Museum commissioned four artists to paint on five of these wall segments, including French-born, Berlin-based artist Thierry Noir (I mentioned him already in my post on the 25th anniversary of the reunification party at the German Embassy), L.A.-based muralist and street artists Kent Twitchell,  Farrah Karapetian and Marie Astrid González. 

There you have it! Please note that this is in no way an exclusive list. I was only in Los Angeles for 4 quick days and there’s a LOT of street art pieces I didn’t even get to. I’m also in no way suggesting that you skip the Getty or the Broad. As a matter of fact, I even have some tips for you if you want to visit The Broad, which you totally should! 

Pow! Wow! D.C. – Murals in Progress in NoMa

Famed Los Angeles-based French street artist Mr. Brainwash recently painted an awesome mural on the wall of Union Market (read more about it here) and was quoted saying that he’d be back in the District because “Washington, D.C. needs it,” having so many “blank walls that could have messages for people to see life more beautifully.” Well, right now, a couple of blank walls in NoMa are getting some graffiti love as part of Pow! Wow! DC, a week long art festival. Most of the murals are still works in progress at this time, and Thursday night, I joined a (rather large) group of street art loving peeps for a walking tour of the neighbourhood led by local artist Kelly Towles who’s been spearheading Pow! Wow! here in the District. 

There are 17 artists currently working on 7 walls, many collaboratively. From the Lobby Project at 1200 first street NE we walked over to what looked like a shack on M to hear about how Pow! Wow! came to the city.  and to see the first piece, painted by Pow Wow Worldwide director Jeff Gress and appropriately themed for the city.

This DC themed mural is the work of Jeff Gress from Hawaii

This DC themed mural is the work of Jeff Gress from Hawaii

From there, it wasn’t far until the next wall, the  Crucible Wall by Cory Oberndorfer (a.ka. Sweet Uncle Cory) at 16 M Street NE. Why the Crucible you ask? Well, that was the name of the alternate lifestyles/BDSM Private Club that used to be in that building…  The club closed down recently (though it’s searching for a new home apparently) and the whole thing will be torn down soon so I wouldn’t wait too long to go check out Cory’s mural if I were you.

Kelly Towles explains the history behind the Crucible Wall in NoMa

Kelly Towles explains the history behind the Crucible Wall in NoMa

Just around the corner from the Crucible Wall at 42 Patterson Street NE is a large, colourful wall that was practically done by the time we saw it. Dave Persue (pictured below telling us about the piece) collaborated with Yok & Sheryo on this homage to Washington, complete with historical figures like president Lincoln and a tribute to standout D.C. graffiti artist Cool “Disco” Dan (Dan Hogg). 

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My absolute favourite wall was the absolutely trippy work done to the old Ibiza nightclub by Douglas Hoekzema aka HOXXOH. I cannot wait to see the final wall! It’s right on First Street (1222 First Street NE) and I’m petty sure that very soon it’s going to pop up ALL over my instagram feed. Check it out:

HOXXOH new mural on the old Ibiza building in Washington, DC

Douglas Hoekzema aka HOXXOH is a Miami based artist known for his striking murals that seem to mix art and science

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The next wall was just as striking but for completely different reason. It’s the tallest of all the murals that have come up as part of Pow! Wow! DC and uses a captivating bright pink-purple hue that’s impossible to miss. Drew Merritt and camera shy London based artist INSA teamed up for this beautiful large scale portrait.  

Drew Merritt and INSA collaborated on this large scale mural in North East DC

#IfIWasYourGirlfriend collaborative wall by Drew Merritt + INSA at 41 New York Ave NE

The next two walls were a little further away, closer to the tunnel you go under to get to Union Market. There’s a companion piece to the No Kings Collective mural at the Colonel apartments in Shaw, made with old go-go posters, coming up at the new Elevation @ Washington Gateway building. And then there’s a bunch of different pieces coming up on a section of the 900-foot Metro Branch Trail wall. Local artists Decoydc, Matt Corrado, OneEightyOne (pictured hard at work below) and Jacob Eveland were hard at work on different sections of the wall when we walked by. I’ll definitely go back and take more pictures of all the different parts once they are completed!

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Finally, there were a couple of smaller scale pieces that weren’t included on the walk. Puerto Rican artist Vero Rivera is working on a cool illustration behind the 52 O Street Studios. There’s also a Yoda themed garage door mural by Wooden Wave that I didn’t get to see (yet!)  We did make one last stop to see two final pieces a little tucked away from the other ones, on walls above a parking lot at 1215 3rd Street NE. 

I love a girl who can rock a wall, and Hong Kong based Caranotoes is doing just that! 

Caranotoes from Hong Kong talking about her mural at 3rd street NE

Caranotoes from Hong Kong talking about her mural at 3rd street NE

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Right next to her wall, DC-Based Artist Naturel is working on perhaps one of the most political piece of the lot. Artists participating in Pow! Wow! DC were specifically asked to refrain from controversial topics since there was quite a bureaucratic process involved in getting authorization from the city to use the walls, etc. He’s currently working on his interpretation of the upcoming Harriet Tubman $20 bill, which is more of a political statement than a political controversy. 

Are you as excited as I am about all these new murals in NoMa? Washington hasn’t had a large scale murals festival, yet, and I loved that Pow! Wow! DC brought in some international muralists from all over the world, while still showcasing some of the best local street artists from around the DMV. As I mentioned, most of the pieces I saw on Thursday, May 26, were still work in progress and if you want to check out the final works, there will be one more artist-led organized happy hour and walk on June 2nd. You can also do your own walk by using the Pow! Wow! DC map on NoMa Bid’s website. I know I will as soon as I’m back from Los Angeles in a few weeks!

 

Postcard from NYC: “Bird Watching” in West Harlem

Audubon Mural Project: Roseatte Spoonbill by Danielle Mastrion

Let’s be honest, I’m a city baby and any flying animal that’s not a pigeon is a pretty exotic bird for me! Bird-watching is not an activity I typically engage in… unless the birds in question happen to be drawn on urban walls that is 😉 Thanks to the Audubon Society and the Gilter & ____ Gallery, the Washington Heights/West Harlem neighbourhoods is just the perfect spot to catch a flock of colourful birds! All in graffiti of course… 

Right now there are a few dozens murals of varying scale scattered around uptown Manhattan, and eventually the goal is to have street artists and muralists paint over 314 different species of North American birds that a sobering 2014 Audubon Society report on “Birds and Climate Change” identified as being at risk because of global warming.

Here are some of the birds I spotted during a recent street art “birding” excursion:

Audubon Mural Project: Swallow-tailed Kite by Lunar New Year

The Swallow-tailed Kite, located at 575 West 155th Street, was painted by artist Lunar New Year and depicts 12 different climate-threatened species

Audubon Mural Project: Tricolored Heron by Iena Cruz,

Tricolored Heron, by Iena Cruz, appropriately located next to Audubon Hall at 432 West 163rd St.

Audubon Mural Project: Endangered Harlem, by Gaia

Endangered Harlem, by Gaia, located at 1883-7 Amsterdam, between W. 153rd and W. 154th streets

Audubon Mural Project: Fish Crow, by Hitnes

Fish Crow, by Hitnes, can be seen at 3750 Broadway between 155th and 156th streets

Audubon Mural Project: Bald Eagle by Peter Daverington

I love how colourful this one is! The Bald Eagle by Peter Daverington brightens up 3623 Broadway

Audubon Mural Project: Allen’s Hummingbird by Socky Chop

Allen’s Hummingbird, painted by Socky Chop, is at 101 Edgecombe Avenue, between 139 & 140 St

Audubon Mural Project: American Redstart, by James Alicea

American Redstart, by James Alicea, at 3612 Broadwaybetween 148 & 149th streets

Audubon Mural Proejct: Black-throated Blue Warbler, by minusbaby

Black-throated Blue Warbler, by minusbaby, at 3637 Broadway between 149 & 150 streets

If you’re not familiar with Jean-Jacques Audubon, you should know that he was a Franco-American ornithologist and naturalist who painted, cataloged, and described the birds of North America in his famous book Birds of America.  Most of the murals are concentrated in the upper East Side neighbourhood where he once resided and is buried (in the Trinity Church Cemetery, on the south side of 155th Street, between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway.) If you feel like going on a little bird watching excursion of your own, check out the Audubon Society’s website to map out your route. And if you want to spot some actual real non-graffiti birds, check out the New York City Audubon’s quick guide  to birding in the city! I think I’m good with the mural versions for now 😉

Postcard from the District: Mr Brainwash Mural at Union Market

You know the first lady is pretty cool when you find out about new murals from her instagram feed 😉

Michelle Obama and Mr Brainwash at Union Market

 

Michelle Obama marked International Women’s Day and the first anniversary of Let Girls Learn, a U.S. government initiative aimed at educating girls around the world, at Union Market. She was joined by famed Los Angeles-based French street artist Mr. Brainwash, who had been commissioned by The Girls Lounge to do a mural on the theme of women education.  The murals are full of colorful hearts, similar to the bleeding hearts/love wall graffiti by James Goldcrown, portraits (including renderings of Charlie Chaplin and Albert Einstein) and inspiring slogans like “Life Is Beautiful,” “Follow Your Heart” and “Love Is The Answer.” 

Mr Brainwash Mural at Union Market

Laetitia Brock at the Union Market Mr Brainwash mural

Mr Brainwash Mural at Union Market

 

 

 

 

 

Union Market Celebrates International Women's Day with Michelle Obama and Street Artist Mr. Brainwash; Photo Credit: Gary Williams

Union Market Celebrates International Women’s Day with Michelle Obama and Street Artist Mr. Brainwash; Photo Credit: Gary Williams

Unfortunately, some of the art is already gone, like Einstein’s legs or the bottom half of the Life is Beautiful pink heart above.

Thierry Guetta, aka MBW, was quoted saying that he’ll be back in the District because he feels that “Washington, D.C. needs it.” I agree! Apparently, we have many “blank walls that could have messages for people to see life more beautifully.” Again, I agree and I can’t wait to see more of his murals pop up all over town!! 

Helping Raise/Raze Come to Life at Dupont Underground

Volunteering to build Raise/Raze at Dupont Underground

 

I had a ball – lame pun intended – volunteering at the Dupont Underground with some of my friends this morning. This was actually my first time in the abandoned trolley station which plans to open its doors to the public on April 30 with its first art exhibit, “Raise/Raze.” 

“Raise/Raze” was the winning  project of Re-Ball!, an open design competition for a site-specific installation in the underground space using the more than 650,000 translucent plastic balls from the National Building Museum‘s “Beach” installation. So today we helped built the installation by glue-ing a bunch of these balls together. 

Dupont Undergound

Volunteering at the dupont undergroundDupont Undergound

 

 

The making of Raise/Raze

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We basically spent three hours in a small portion of the tunnel (it’s over a mile long in total) hot-glueing the balls in sets of three. Another station then turned these into bigger squares while a final station added velcro to it. Eventually, groups of up to 50 people will travel through different spaces within the tunnel and interact with the exhibit by moving the velcro-affixed 3x3x3 cubes around to create various shapes. And while I had a ton of fun with the hot glue gun there’s still a ton of work to be done… so if you have three hours to spare between now and April 24 you can help out too (sign up to volunteer here!)

Hot glue-ing the balls at Raise/Raze

Raise/Raze

Eventually the space is supposed to look like this:

Rendering courtesy of Dupont Underground and Hou de Sousa

Rendering courtesy of Dupont Underground and Hou de Sousa

Right now, that seems pretty abstract and kinda hard to visualize…. but I’m sure it’ll get there eventually and I can’t wait to see the final result! I really do hope that Raise/Raze will get the ball rolling on turning Dupont Underground into a hot cultural destination in Washington, DC. Just had to close on a lame ball pun too 😉 

For more background on the Dupont Underground revitalization project, check out this USA Today article. 

Tips for Enjoying Cherry Blossom Season In DC


Spring is coming! Every year the highlight of the season in Washington is, of course, the annual blooming of the district’s 3,000 Yoshino cherry trees. The whole town gets cherry fever and hundreds of thousands of tourists (and locals too) descend on the Tidal Basin and the National Mall to admire the delicate white and pink flowers. This year, peak bloom will hit between March 18-23, 2 weeks earlier than originally anticipated due to the recent warm temperatures. This means most of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs from March 20 to April 17, will probably happen sans-blossom. Regardless, here are a few tips for navigating this huge Washington, DC event.

DC Cherry Blossoms

 

SET YOUR ALARM CLOCK EARLY

The Cherry Blossom trees were a gift of good will from Japan to the United States in 1912 and represent the budding relationship between the two countries. They’re scattered around the city, but the prettiest, most picture perfect pink concentration is around the Tidal Basin, just off the National Mall. Avoiding the stroller pushing, selfie snapping crowd during peak bloom around there is impossible, but your best bet for some quiet cherry blossom time will be early in the morning on a weekday. Like 7AM early, right at sunrise. The evening is also a lot quieter and you can even join a ranger on a lantern walk from 8-10PM (Fridays/Saturdays 3/18, 19, 25, 26 and March 1 and 2nd.) Don’t forget to check the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s website for a full schedule of events. The day of the parade (April 16), of the kite festival (April 2) or of Cherry Blossom 10 miler race (April 3) are likely to be even busier than usual.

Cherry blossoms at MLK memorial

LEAVE YOUR CAR AT HOME 

Seriously, don’t drive to the Tidal Basin if you can avoid it. Traffic will atrocious and there’s NO parking out there! The closest metro to the Tidal Basin is the Smithsonian metro stop on the blue and orange lines, though the circulator’s new national mall linedeparting from Union Station, will also get you pretty close. I always walk there from my place, but my best advice is to grab a cab, lyft or uber, especially if you’re going early in the morning. Capital Bikeshare is a great option for your trip back from the Tidal Basin. On your way there you might not find an empty docket for the bike. Make sure to be on the lookout for one of the pink #bikeinbloom bike too! However you get there, make sure to wear comfy shoes since you’ll be doing a lot of walking regardless.  
Cherry Blossoms in Washington, DC

LEAVE THE TREES ALONE 

This really should have been tip number one. Don’t pick blossoms from trees or hold on to a branch. These are big no-nos and if you see someone doing this, you should yell at them. Don’t yell at tourists though for standing on the wrong side of a metro escalator 😉 Rookie mistake, just kindly let them know that we have rules here, and that they should be standing on the right, walking on the left. 

DC Cherry Blossom trees

BRING SNACKS… AND ALLERGY MEDICINE 

Bring some snacks if you’re planning on walking the whole tidal basin. Even better, bring a blanket, some food and have a picnic. Just remember don’t litter (there aren’t a ton of garbage cans down there) don’t drink alcohol in public. In the United States, there is such a thing as open container laws so you can’t openly drink alcohol in public places like sidewalks, parks or the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. Womp womp… leave that bottle of rosé at home! Finally – take or pack allergy medicine. All over the city all sorts of trees are booming too so even if you’ve never suffered from seasonal allergies before, you might still want to pack or take a zyrtec!

TAKE TO THE WATERS! 

In addition to the tidal basin and the Washington monument area, you can also find cherry blossoms along the shoreline of East Potomac Park, extending all the way to Hains Point. A great way to appreciate those trees is by taking a DC water taxi from Georgetown or from Old Town Alexandria. If the water temperatures are warm enough, you might even be able to rent a kayak from Thompson Boat Center in Georgetown and paddle your way to the blossoms. Perks, you also get a good workout! But one of my favourite things to do during peak bloom is renting a pedal boat at the Tidal Basin for a picture perfect view of the monuments and the dusty pink blossoms reflecting on the water. If you’re headed to see the blossoms on a weekday, you can even book your boat in advance to reduce wait time.pedalo sur le tidal basin a washington

 

THINK BEYOND THE TIDAL BASIN

While the trees along the Tidal Basin are definitely the most striking, there are other pockets of cherry blossom action in other locations across the city. Here are some alternative spots to see the pink-and-white blooms:

  • There’s  more than 20 varieties of cherry blossoms at the 95-acre Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia which is a great option if you don’t want to come all the way into the city. Bonus: the Korean Bell Garden, while not Japanese at all, makes for a very pretty backdrop.
  • Rather than risk having your dog(s) trampled by hordes of tourists at the Tidal Basin, bring your furry friend(s) to the dog-friendly National Arboretum. You and your pup(s) will be able to enjoy cherry blossoms without being overwhelmed by crowds. 
  • For families, Stanton Park in Capitol Hill is both lined with pretty cherry trees AND has a playground for your kiddos. 
  • Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown is great for off-the-beaten path cherry blossom viewing.  General admissions there will set you back $8 though.
  • Take a drive through the wealthy suburb of Kenwood near Bethesda where the streets will be lined with cotton candy trees. 

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EMBRACE THE SEASON AND THE PINK

Peak bloom only lasts 4 days and odds are, if you’re not from DC, you’ve had to plans your trip including book your hotel and travel WAY in advance. And odds are it might not coincide with when the blossoms are out. And that’s ok. There’s still SO much you can do. The White House might be blooming with tulips and the capitol ground with magnolias. You can get tickets to the DC United home opener on March 20th (there are additional home games March 26, April 9 and April 16) or the Nationals home opener on April 7 (or one of the follow up games April 9-14 as well as pre-season games April 1-2).

The whole town also turns pink during cherry blossom season, and while it might seem cheesy, I love the way restaurants celebrate with special menu items. I typically stick to the desserts and cocktails though and also use the festival as the official kick-off date for rosé-drinking season. This time of year is also the perfect excuse to discover or re-discover some of the best japanese restaurants in town. Finally, if you’ve never done afternoon tea at the The Willard Intercontinental Hotel, now’s your chance! The original Japanese delegation to America stayed there in 1860 and the hotel goes all out that to commemorate, with spring décor, a cherry blossom afternoon tea and cherry-inspired cocktails. 

Cherry blossoms inspired eats

Cherry rose cookie from Momofuku Milk Bar in Washington, DC

Whether you’re a veteran cherry-blossom festival goer or this is your first time in DC, I hope these tips will to help you navigate cherry blossoms season. Washington is truly pretty in pink and while the Champs de Mars’ cerisiers are very lovely too, short of going to Japan Washington’s cherry blossoms are truly some of the most beautiful in the world. If you’ve got any tips to share about cherry blossoms time in DC, let me know in the comments!

Off the Beaten Path: ToKi’s SYNTH SERIES 002 Yarn Installation

My (Southern Republican) husband always jokes around that he is very vanilla, and that I bring a little bit of spice, the rum raisin flavour if you will, to his life. I don’t know about that, but I definitely bring him out of his comfort zone on a regular basis 😉 Like, the other day, for example, when I “dragged” him semi-willingly to an abandoned warehouse near the Rhode Island Avenue metro stop to check out an art installation by ToKi. Dragged him to this building:

Toki Art Installation

ToKi is a collaborative effort by two recent Howard University architecture graduates, Khai Grubbs and Toluwalase Rufai. Their latest work is a colourful art installation called SYNTH SERIES 002. Their main material: yarn, though I’m not sure I would actually classify this particular work as graffiti knitting (check out this awesome gallery in Time Magazine or this Buzzfeed article to see what happens when crochet meet street art!) Rather than reclaim, transform or personalize a public space, their collaborative work here seeks to study the intersection of music, space & architecture. Their words, not mine 😉 Part of the experience is definitely the thrill of finding the (no-longer-so) secret location and getting into it to find the colourful basking in the light of the top floor of the building, with nothing but silence as soundtrack. It definitely made for an amazing experience and some stunning pictures and instagram shots!

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IMG_2645This is the duo’s second installation.The first one, SYNTH Series 001, took place at Fort Totem Park near the Fort Totem, in a much more open environment.  They have plans to create more such work in the “synth” series throughout the city.

I wonder where they’ll pop up next!!

UPDATE: According to reports, like this instagram post or this one,  the installation was torn down by the owner of the building where it was housed. Le sigh. Though it is the nature of this kind of urban art I guess…

Postcard from Philadelphia: 13th & Locust’s Rainbow Crosswalk

It was the day after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide in the U.S. My parents and I were in Philadelphia to catch the Hermione tall ship while she was making her way up the East Coast. We were wandering around the city’s Mural Mile, a 2.5 mile loop through downtown, to catch some of Philadelphia’s most iconic street art. Suddenly, a pop of colour on the ground caught our attention for a change. At the intersection of 13th street and Locust, rainbow stripes had been painted on the pedestrian crosswalks, forming a bright and bold square.

Rainbow Crosswalk in Philadelphia

 

Turns out, this didn’t just pop overnight following the Supreme Court decision. It had been planned long before 😉 Starting with West Hollywood back in 2012, a handful of North American cities brightened up their crosswalks in historically gay or gay-friendly neighbourhoods like Vancouver’s Davie Street VillageSan Francisco’s CastroSeattle’s Capitol Hill or Toronto’s Church Street. Even Key West’s got a Rainbow Crosswalk and now Philadelphia. Isn’t it time DC got one as well!? As the Washington Post highlighted in this article last year, why can’t crosswalks be more fun, like this series of artist-designed crosswalks up in Baltimore’s new Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District or San Jose’s crosswalks at Paseo de San Antonio? We got a decent start with the awesome star-spangled crosswalk that livens up the intersection of 14th and S streets NW, but it could use a little sprucing up right now, it’s looking quite faded. And we could use more!! Wouldn’t you love a rainbow crosswalk in DC? If yes, where do you think it should be? 

Pick Your Own Tulips at Burnside Farms

Tulips are a beautiful symbol of spring. In Washington, tulips typically bloom right after the cherry blossoms have come and gone, but they were a little late this year, probably because we’ve had such a cold spring. Over the past 2 weeks though, their vibrant colours have been on full display across the city. 

Tulips at the White House

Tulips at the US Capitol

And just outside of the District, a quick 45 minutes drive away, a farm in Haymarket, Virginia, plays host to one of largest pick-your-own tulips festival in the United States. Nicknamed “Holland in Haymarket,” the festival typically runs late April to mid-May, depending on when the flowers actually bloom. Visitors pay an entrance fee of $3.00, and then there’s a cost per stem for each flower that you pick, depending on the variety of tulips that you select.  

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With tulips of every shape and colour as far as the eyes can see, it’s easy to feel like you’re in Holland for a little while, but just to make sure, Burnside Farms also adds over 200 wooden pairs of authentic Dutch clogs (including a giant pair!) for perfect photo-opps. 

Holland in Haymarket

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All that’s missing really is a miniature (or not-so miniature) windmill or something. And maybe some gouda. You can pick up a basket from a variety that the farm offers, and there’s usually some food vendors too if you want to make a half-day of it (I’m pretty sure you can bring your own picnic as well). For children, Burnside Farms also has a little farm set up, with a turkey, some goats, chicken and little adorable baby chicks on hand… and for grown-ups there are two wineries within a 10 minutes drive 😉 

Virginia is for wine and tulips lovers too, apparently!

N Street Murals Project: 3 Buildings, 3 Artists

March 14 was a miserable day for a run. On top of that, the winter had dragged on so my husband’s hadn’t trained outdoors as much as he had wanted to. But rain or shine, in this case rain and lots of it, the D.C. Rock’n Roll marathon and half marathon was happening, and my husband was running it. And that could mean only one thing for me… I’d be out there cheering. My favourite spot on the route is right across the street from NPR, since that’s an easy marker and it’s close enough to home. After I spotted my favourite runner, I decided to make a detour and swing by the new(ish) Unleashed by Petco store in NoMa on my way home. And that’s when I spotted a bright mural taking up an entire wall above a parking lot at 51 N Street NE. And a whole building wrapped in geometrical shapes right across the street from it. I discovered the N Street Murals Project….   

MOMO: 51 N STREET NE
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RUBIN: 33 NEW YORK AVENUE NE (VISIBLE FROM ACROSS 51 N STREET)
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KYLE HUGHES-ODGERS: 1300 1ST STREET NEIMG_5485 IMG_5520

As I found out when I got home that the interesting part about the N Street Murals project is that the urban intervention from these three street artists happened as a result of a collaboration between Art Whino Gallery and The JBG Companies, a real estate investment firm which develops office, residential and retail properties, including many in that part of town. Since NoMa is still strugling to develop its identity as a neighbourhood and attract bars, restaurants and businesses that will make it a weekend destination for those who live nearby I love that this project adds a drab of colour to an otherwise dull block and gives me a reason to want to go visit.

ps: check out pics of Momo’s work in the French cities of Besancon & Niort!