Camina de Esta Manera

For those of you who have stuck with me through my week of Spain posts, I have one more for you! Don’t worry, this one is all pictures of the street art I saw in Granada. Enjoy!

p.s. If you are interested in reading more, one of my partners in crime (or travel) just posted his perspective on our Spanish adventure. Check out Eric’s blog here!

7:30 AM: Our first graffiti sighting in Granada.

It's always a party in Granada.

It's always a party in Granada.

Translation: Friends for life

This one's a little harder to spot...

Some mischievous art hiding behind the fence.

Performance art! Thanks Chris...

Now we get a little more political. Translation: Houses without people, people without a house! A street that talks.

I'm having a bit more trouble with this translation. Anyone have any ideas? I think "poyas" is some kind of Spanish slang...

Translation: TV is house arrest and a <something> routine.

Viva el arte de calle en Granada!

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The Top 5 Things I Did in Madrid

After returning from Granada, Eric joined Chris and I for five fabulous days in Madrid. Here are my favorite things that we did!

1. Eating ham & tortilla

Thumbs up for bocadillos! (Photo cred: Eric Fleddermann)

Because Eric has been studying in a Muslim country and has therefore been suffering from lack of pork-products (specifically bacon), I took him to the Museo del Jamón for his first meal. It seems to be some sort of chain restaurant in Madrid, but they have walls covered in ham legs and a euro menu of bocadillos (simple Spanish sandwiches consisting of one topping on a baguette) so we ended up frequenting it during our time in Madrid.

As much as I loved the Spanish ham and chorizo, my favorite was a bocadillo with Spanish tortilla on it. Unlike the flatbread Latin American tortilla, Spanish tortilla is a meal in itself. It’s an egg-based dish and is kind of like the birth-child of an omelet and a quiche with a lot of potatoes and onions thrown in. It’s hearty yet tender, and especially delicious when paired with some flakey bread. I’m getting hungry just writing about it…

2. The Almudena Cathedral

I’ve seen so many churches during my time in Europe that I probably wouldn’t have gone in this one if Eric hadn’t wanted to check it out, and boy am I glad he did. The Almudena Cathedral, located adjacent to the Royal Palace in Madrid, is the most eclectic cathedral I’ve ever been to. It was kind of like a contemporary art museum inside–traditional religious works were up next to very modern stained glass and sculptures, the ceiling was covered in the vibrant patchwork of geometric shapes, and the prayer room was decorated with floor to ceiling sparkling mosaic depictions of religious scenes. Rather than feeling religiously imposing and gaudy, it was more interesting and inviting. I highly recommend stopping by if you’re in Madrid.

3. Spending time in public places

The popular bubble man street performer in Plaza Mayor

Because people in Madrid socialize in the streets rather than in the home, the city is full of excellent public places to spend time in. Plenty of my time in Madrid was spent doing just that: sitting in a park or a plaza, catching up with my good friends from back home, and watching Spanish life pass by. There are also plenty of street performers around for added entertainment. One morning in Retiro park we were even lucky enough to get an hour-long sax performance from across the lake!

Another great space to check out if you’re going to Madrid is the Atocha train station. Not only is it pretty amazing architecturally, there’s a giant palm tree forest inside that’s pretty cool to walk around. When we were there, there was an exhibit of photographs related to the Russian railroad. Random, yes, but also interesting.

4. Hitting the museums

Madrid is also full of museums. We went to the two main attractions: the Prado and the Reina Sofia. The Prado is more traditional and renaissance art, which isn’t my favorite. The most interesting thing there was Goya’s black paintings, which were the pieces he originally did on the walls of his home while he was going crazy and nearing death. They’re pretty gruesome but very interesting.

The Reina Sofia is full of contemporary art and much more down my alley. This included several works by the crazy Dalí and Picasso’s Guernica. As part of the Guernica exhibit, the museum also has a bunch of his sketches and studies done in preparation for painting this major work. I love seeing the process of great artists almost as much as I like seeing the final product, so I thought this was a very well done exhibit.

A quick tip if you’re planning on visiting museums in Madrid: if you plan it right, you really shouldn’t have to pay admission. If you’re a student you can get in free to almost all of the museums with your ID, but for the rest of you most of the museums have free hours or days. Check the schedules before you go and plan accordingly to save a lot of euros!

5. Enjoying the nightlife

Madrid has an incredibly varied and lively nightlife that is known for starting late and ending later. We really enjoyed a spectrum–from our first crazy night at the seven story club El Kapital to dancing at a jazz/funk bar to a quiet night sipping wine at a cafe until they closed at 2–and I had a great time every night. Whatever your nightlife style, Madrid probably has it and it’s bound to be a good time.

Up next? Our spontaneous trip to Sevilla!

Walk This Way: From Street to Gallery

Shepard Fairey on the streets

Shepard Fairey is an American graphic designer turned street artist who is perhaps most well known for the iconic “HOPE” posters used in Obama’s 2008 campaign. I’ve been familiar with his work for a while, so I was excited to see that he had made an appearance in Copenhagen!

I later discovered that his work in the city was sort of commissioned by a gallery called V1 in the old meatpacking district, which has been revitalized into a hip area with galleries and restaurants. Some of the work was greeted with much controversy.

Shepard Fairey in the gallery

I was fortunate enough to get to see the gallery exhibit before it closed. It was interesting to see Fairey playing with some of his usual images and themes in a more traditional setting and with different materials.

While I really enjoyed the gallery and think it shows Fairey’s growth as an artist, it does raise an interesting question about street artists who step off the street: are they selling out, or just being smart and trying to make a living off their work?

Some people weren't too happy about Shepard Fairey's controversial commissioned work on a former youth center.

Check out all the posts in the street art series Walk This Way!

Gallery Guide: Nathalie Djurberg’s Snakes Knows It’s Yoga

Last week I got to visit a bizarre claymation video and sculpture exhibit by Swedish artist Nathalie Djurberg as part of my contemporary art class. Our assignment for the visit was to create a gallery guide, so in honor of the upcoming National Novel Writing Month (yes, November is about more than mustaches and turkeys), I’ve decided to compile…

The Creative Writer’s Guide to Nathalie Djurberg’s Snakes Knows It’s Yoga

If you’re in Copenhagen and love art and writing, feel free to print out the guide and head down to GL Strand to check out the exhibit. Unfortunately, this particular exhibit closes on November 13, but you’ve still got a couple weeks!

If you’re not in Copenhagen but still love writing, I’ve taken pictures of some (though unfortunately not all) of the works featured in the guide, so you can still somewhat use it!

And no matter where you are, you should sign up for NaNoWriMo. Seriously, it’s gonna be fun.

Happy Monday!

The Day of Inspiring People: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Welcome to chapter 4 in a series of posts about my week-long trip through Germany and the Netherlands! If you missed the first posts, check them out by clicking on the links below. Otherwise, read on!

1. Remembering Why I Came Here

2. Spiritual Spaces

3. Design-gasm

4. The Day of Inspiring People

The rest of our journey was spend in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Amsterdam was certainly a character-filled city. With canals running every which way, bikers doing the same, and “coffee shops” on every corner making no effort to hide what they’re actually selling, Amsterdam had an air of chaos that I hadn’t yet experienced in my European travels (For those of you who don’t know, coffee shops are where it it legal to sell and consume marijuana in Amsterdam. If you actually want to sit down for a cup of coffee, go to a cafe. And if you want coffee to-go good luck–remember, you’re in Europe now.)

To me, Amsterdam felt a little like Copenhagen cut loose. For example, they’re both extremely bike-focused cities, but Amsterdam seemed to do this at the expense of pedestrian friendliness. I’ve gotten used to the bikes in Copenhagen, but here it felt like learning how to ride again (pardon the pun). I definitely almost got hit on multiple occasions. And while jaywalking is somewhat frowned upon in Copenhagen (many people will wait for that little green man until the day they die), the streets in Amsterdam almost forced you to jay. Every time I crossed the street it felt like playing Frogger: get across the bike lane, then one car lane, then the above-ground tram lane, then do it all again on the other side of the street. I honestly don’t know how people enjoying Amsterdam’s, shall we say, cultural freedoms survive.

One thing Amsterdam may be less well known for are its museums. It is full of them, with over 50, and they range in subject from art to Anne Frank to bags and purses (?). As I’ve mentioned before, I have a slight obsession with museums (if I could, I’d go to a museum of museums), so one free afternoon a couple friends and I made stops at several.

Inspiring enough for you, Rembrandt?

First, we went to the Rembrandt House. As it sounds like, this museum guides you through the artist Rembrandt’s old house, and then ends with a gallery displaying a rare collection of his etchings. My favorite room was the one that housed his collection of “objects d’art” aka objects that inspired him. This was an odd menagerie of busts of random people, shells, preserved animals or animal parts, etc. With so many different things it was definitely my kind of room.

Making canary yellow paint!

Throughout the museum we also got to see demonstrations of some of Rembrandt’s art processes, such as how he made his pigments or did his etchings. These demonstrations definitely made the museum that much better, so if you are visiting I would highly recommend sticking around for them.

After a quick pancake dinner, we found ourselves at a very different hosue: Anne Frank’s. Even though this visit could have easily been depressing–and don’t get me wrong, it had it’s very sad moments–for me it was surprisingly more inspiring than the house of a master artist. Like Rembrandt, Anne Frank too had her collection of inspiring things: postcards and magazines showing her dreams, inspirations, and aspirations pasted on the wall of her tiny room. Anne wanted so much for her life and, despite her bleak situation, dreamed huge and worked furiously towards her dreams. Seeing her attitude towards life was both a sobering reminder and an inspiration for me to get absolutely everything I can out of life because I have so much freedom and opportunity. Although I hadn’t thought about Anne Frank since middle school, I’m so glad we went and am now itching to read the diary again. Another highly recommended museum.

Finally, we ended our day by going to a Brazilian Jazz concert at the big concert venue in Amsterdam, Concertgebouw. The concert featured a famous Belgian harmonica player (who knew?!) along with some of his Brazilian friends. Toots was hilarious–this guy couldn’t even walk on stage on his own he was so old, but as soon as he put that harmonica to his mouth he was jammin’. It was a great concert, and I only wish I could have gotten up and danced!

Our remaining days in Amsterdam were largely spent doing academic things and dealing with very sudden downpours (the weather was even more schizophrenic than in Copenhagen), but I did manage to hit up one more museum before I left: Van Gough.  No photos were allowed inside, but if you’re into art it’s another great stop in Amsterdam!

Finally, we were headed back to Copenhagen where an interesting “welcome home” was awaiting me…

5. On Going Away and Coming Back

Bike This Way

Last week I went on a bike trip around Copenhagen to look at different urban squares and I learned that, as much as I absolutely love biking around the city, it’s really not a good idea for me. I’m actually quite a good biker (and even managed to do it Copenhagen style, in heels!), but the problem is I get easily distracted. When I’m walking, this isn’t a problem; I can stop, take pictures, change my course to follow something shiny, etc. But when I’m biking, I either have to let things fly past me or take the risk and look at them while I roll along.

I chose the risk, and skillfully captured these street art gems for your enjoyment!

Can you spot the street art? This was the guy who prompted me to pull out my camera in the first place.

Wallpaper-like art in one of the squares we visited.

This is apparently done by a pretty well-known Danish artist who likes to put somewhat surreal pieces around the city. Also, note the political poster hanging in the foreground, leftover from elections. That's Helle, Denmark's new (and first female) Prime Minister.

Street art or just a whimsically painted facade?

I like to think that's me on the bike!

Amazingly, I caused no accidents and have yet to be taken out by a biker! I’m sure it will happen though, it’s only a matter of time.

Check out all the posts in the street art series Walk This Way!