I Have This Thing For Murals
Last May, while hanging out in my favorite little bookstore in West Portal, San Francisco, I came upon a book curated together with all these books meant for fresh grads. College seniors were going to be thrust into the real world the next month and they were going to need all the help they could get. Stuff Every Graduate Should Know: A Handbook for the Real World by Alyssa Favreau, Seussisms- A Guide to Life for Those Just Starting Out, and those Already on Their Way by Dr. Seuss (plus his famous Oh! The Places You’ll Go! hardbound edition) and – now this one I find real funny – Adulting – How to Become a Grown Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown.
But this little book was different. Written by Keri Smith of Wreck This Journal fame, she discovered cryptic handwritten notations in a pre-loved copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. This discovery led to an exploration into a group known as The Wander Society, which became the subject of this book I was so enthralled with and spent the rest of the hour browsing. Aside from a guide on what to wear for wandering and how to properly wander around anywhere, there were these little suggestions that she made meant for those who want to make their traveling more personal and meaningful for themselves.
Stuff like, “Leave little notes in books for other people to find them” or “Follow a leaf down its path and see where it takes you” or “Collect something unique in every city you visit, like snow globes or magnets.” One piece of advice she wrote got me thinking. “Whenever you travel somewhere new, take a photo of the same thing everywhere you go.” What did I collect? Nothing. I’m not fond of knick knacks. I’m not the best photographer, either. I don’t capture moments – I force my kid to come over, pose and smile (well, except for a few stolen shots, such as the cover image of this post where I caught Enzo day-dreaming and above him that awesome mural which looked like his envisioned dream). Some people love doors, some people love floors.
Well, for me, especially on my most recent summer trip to the US, it seems I may have this thing for murals. (Big thanks to my Instagram Boyfriend and Instagram Son for being patient and taking some of these photos!).
Indoor or outdoor, I think it’s absolutely grand how an artist can cover a whole wall with art. Whether messy or neat, poignant or crass, a full wall covering or partial, I am a huge admirer of wall art and how we as the individual viewer interact with it in its environment as well as how it adds flavor to a neighborhood or a space.
I’d be wandering around a neighborhood, turn a corner and a huge mural would pop out from the wall. Like that weird cousin who you never see save for that annual family reunion. I didn’t decide, “I’m going to take photos of murals and make it my thing.” It’s more like they find me – except in the case where I wanted to take Enzo and Jo’s kids to see the famous Clarion Alley Mural Project art. Jo, the local, never took his kids there ever, so it was up to me, the visitor, to expose them to something different. While we were looking at the walls, 11-year-old Lana whispered in my ear, “I don’t this artwork is appropriate for the boys.” If she was referring to the nude woman or the cartoon vagina, I’m not sure. “It’s art!” I whispered back.
Being back at Clarion Alley reminded me of my dear friend, funny and talkative Wilson Fang, who was my tour guide here as well as all over his ‘hood with complete running commentary. When he said he lived near Clarion Alley, I didn’t realize he was literally right behind it. He stuck his head out a window on a graffiti-ed wall to say hi and came down the stairs and right out into the alley. Last year, we sadly we lost our friend to that life-sucking disease known as HIV. This one’s for you, Wilson.
What street art have you admired lately? As Ferris Bueller said in the 80s John Hughes flick, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
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We are two friends who were former magazine editors. Having moved onto other things, we both realized that the creative flow the publishing world used to offer us was missing from our lives. Armed with a common love of travel to the exotic and familiar, a penchant for the bohemian, an obsession with food and a lust for writing, we decided to collaborate our unique and fashionable journeys through life together in one passion project.
We are The Gypsetters.