The 3rd Edition of Pow! Wow! D.C. Brings New Murals to NoMa Walls

It’s becoming a tradition of sorts… for the third year in a row, I took one of the official Pow! Wow! D.C. walking tours to see some of the new murals and hear from some of the artists still trying to finish their walls. Festival Director Kelly Towles was only on hand for a few minutes this time around but it was still great to hear about the festival from some of the people he works with and discover new pieces as well as revisit old favourites from the two previous editions.

As usual, Pow! Wow! D.C. was concentrated in NoMa, where 20 artists (9 locals and the rest from other parts of the country/world) spray painted their work on otherwise boring outdoor walls. 

Here are some of the new murals I loved:

Richt, from Bristol, England, worked on this mural at K St and North Capital St NE

Taj Tenfold spray painted a vibrant double portrait at the intersection of M St. & 3rd St. NE.

Karma, karma, karma, karma, karma chameleon (mural by BroCoLoCo on the MBT)

Martin Swift, finishing another portrait on the Metropolitan Branch Trail

Luis Alberto Pérez’s mural depicts his invitation to the Pow Wow DC and how grateful he was to paint his first mural in the United States.

Mari Inukai was one of the few women artist featured in Pow Wow DC 2018

Memphis artist Birdcap’s mural adorns the wall of the Hyatt Place Capitol Hill

Richmond based Christina Wing Chow took over the end of the Metropolitan Branch Trail

Golden Rabbit Silent Monkey finishing up some angry rabbits on the MBT

With all the new murals on the Metropolitan Branch Trail I cannot wait to start running that path more often!

New Mural at 801 N Street NW

It’s been pretty gloomy in Washington, DC lately so I was pretty excited to stumble upon a new pop of colour in Shaw. Kuddos to Jessie and Katey, an artistic duo from Baltimore, for working in the rain to turn a dull wall above a parking lot into a vibrant public mural.

Jessie and Katey mural at 801 N Street NW in Washington, DC

The mural is part of the District Wall project sponsored by Blind Whino and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Between September 19th and September 30th, abstract muralists like Jason Woodside (1380 H st NE), Remi Rough (649 Kenyon St NW), Tavar Zawacki (1012 7th St SE) or Waone Interesni Kazki (829 Rock Creek Church Rd. NW) have been painting new pieces of street art around the city. I’m always eager to see more graffiti cover the city’s empty walls. And even though the project was supposed to end September 30, some of the murals are still works in progress. James Reka (Rekaone) just got started on his for example, so there’s still more to come… yeah! 

 

Happy Watermelon Day!

Rather than give you a French inspired recipe using summer’s most refreshing fruit, pastèque, I give you one of the most colourful house in Washington, DC and one of my favourite piece of street art in the city: the Watermelon house!!

DC's Watermelon House

The row house is located at 1112 Q Street near Logan Circle. Its exposed side has been painted in pink and green to resemble a has a watermelon slice, complete with seeds. Story has it all started with a bad paint job and since everything I know about Logan Circle’s famed Watermelon House I know from this Washington Post article, you can read all about it there too.

Oh, and if you really want some recipes, I do have two super refreshing ones for you right here.

Bonne journée de la pastèque!! Are you celebrating?

New Chinese Zodiac Sign Crosswalk in Chinatown

What’s your Chinese Zodiac sign? I’m a goat, personally, and loved spotting my sign’s symbol at the intersection of 7th and H streets NW in Chinatown. 

Goat chinese zodiac sign at the intersection of 7th & H streets in Washington, DC

Six years ago, that busy intersection got a little more interesting when it became a “barnes dance” crosswalk (also known as pedestrian scramble) meaning people could cross it in every direction, including diagonally, at the same time. Now the diagonal section of the crosswalk was just enhanced by a permanent two-dimensional artwork featuring colourful dragons — Chinese dragons of course, because the city tries *very* hard to give its Chinatown a semblance of Chinese identity 😉  

Barnes' Dance Crosswalk in DC's Chinatown

Zodiac Sign on the crosswalk in DC's Chinatown

The installation was done by Alternative Paving Concepts, based on a design by Charles Bergen, a DC-native and Yale educated architect turned full time artist who is responsible for a few public art features around town, including one of the Alphabet Animal Art Project aluminum plate in Capitol Hill (the Capitalsaurus is chasing a Falcarius across F and 1st Streets SE). He won the commission from DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities to paint the intersection to be more distinct and unique. The dragons allude to the Chinatown’s history of hosting an annual parade for Chinese New Year, which features a traditional Dragon Dance. What do you think of it? I’m a fan of anything that brings a little colour to the city… whether on walls on streets 😉 

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!! 

Postcard from Chicago: Treats in the Streets

Soft Serve Ice Cream Cone by Jim Bachor in Chicago

During my latest trip to Chicago, I stumbled upon this really awesome piece of street art. And by stumbled, I mean I had researched the artist in advance, figured out it was the most accessible piece I could get to given where I was staying and my tight work schedule and ubered there 😉 Artist Jim Bachor has been filling the city’s many potholes with whimsical mosaics since 2013. In a nod to Belgian surrealist painter Magritte, one of his pieces states “this is not a pothole” in black and white tiles. I loved his most recent series, “Treats in the Streets,” because it combined two things I love: street art and food! The treats in this instance are classic frozen treats mosaic, like the soft serve ice cream cone I spotted, that fill potholes in Chicago and Jyväskylä, Finland. One of his previous series focused on flowers and he also has one that features classic fashion prints like Burberry and Louis Vuitton. How fun! 

Jim Bachor fils Chicago potholes with cool mosaics

Soft Serve Ice Cream Cone by Jim Bachor at 1451-1453 West Grand Avenue in Chicago

It was a lot smaller than I thought it would be, and the colours were quite faded so I almost missed it when I walked by. I also almost got run over while trying to photograph it, so my tips if you’re going to try and spot some of Jim’s art is a) check out his website for a handy map of where each of the pieces are located b) look carefully as the pieces are smaller than you might think they would be and most importantly c) be safe… you don’t want to get caught ‘gramming by a car 😉 

ps: wondering how to say pothole in French? I mean, you never know when you might need that word right? Anyhoo, don’t believe google translate that would have you think it’s trou de pot. Technically, that’s a correct (and very literal) translation. Yes pot is a pot (though that’s more something you’d plant flowers in) and yes hole is trou… but the correct word is nid-de-poule or hen’s nest. Because hens love to nest in holes… of course! It’s cute right? 

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…