The Keith Haring mural. Happy April.
Street Art in Pisa and more cool stuff, in your every-1st-of-the-month newsletter.
How are you?
In Italy, spring has sprung, and I’m longing for some spring vibes to enlighten these anxious days. For the second time since launching this newsletter in 2014, this past month I thought to take a break from it. I find it hard to keep working and writing with a war next door.
I won’t write about the war, though, because the internet is already saturated with opinionated people; I just wanted to share my discomfort with you because the other time when terrible news broke my writing bubble, and I just wanted to quit, I showed up instead -and the resulting conversation with you, all those emails back and forth in which we shared our pandemic fears, was one of the great joys of my writing life. That’s why I started this monthly letter: so we could get to know each other better.
Anyway, the original plan for this month was to write about the preservation of street art: at the beginning of March, I was in Pisa, the only city in Italy that still has a mural by my all-time favorite artist Keith Haring, thanks to a far-sighted administration that firmly wanted to preserve it.
However, that same administration was unable to see the value of another great artwork in the streets of Pisa -a piece by graffiti legend PHASE2- which eventually got destroyed. Local graffiti writer FRA32 finally hit that same wall raising a question: why did the city put a glass protection in front of Keith Haring’s mural while this other artwork by an equally important NYC street legend has been neglected?
And I’ll add a second, rhetorical question: isn’t it time that we remove those blinders and acknowledge there’s no hierarchy of importance and value between street art and graffiti?
As usual, if you want to let me know your opinion, you can reply to this email :)
What else? I’m finally ready to travel again. In April, I’ll go to the city that has officially set this blog on its street art path (and cheers to those of you who were reading about my summer in Lisbon back in 2015!). I’ll be sharing my adventures on Instagram, but most of all, I’d love to meet in real life like we used to. I know some of you live in Lisbon, so hit me up, and let’s go street art hunting together :)
And for the rest of you, have a great beginning of spring, and see you next month!
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Graffiti and Street Art in Pisa
Street art in Pisa is quite underappreciated. You might have read that Keith Haring painted his last mural in Pisa, or that in the 1990s Pisa hosted one of the main graffiti events in Europe, which put this small Tuscan city straight on the international graffiti map. And yet, there is still so much more to discover on Pisa’s walls!
Attitude: Graffiti Writing, Street Art and Neo-Muralism
An outstanding exhibition I saw in Pisa, retracing the evolution of graffiti and street art through the different attitudes that urban artists have towards their street practice.
You somehow stumbled upon my blog and subscribed to the newsletter, but you have no idea who I am and how my blogging journey has unfolded so far? Here I share the ups and downs of my first 10 years of blogging :)
Handpicked by yours truly.
Street Art News and more stuff I liked this month:
French artist and activist JR travelled to Ukraine to unfold an image of hope: the photo of a five-year-old Ukrainian refugee at the moment she crossed the border with Poland. Lifted by more than one hundred Ukrainians on Freedom Avenue in Lviv, the image photographed by a drone from above is on the cover of TIME Magazine.
As he always does, JR documented his ‘artivist’ intervention from beginning to end on social networks. His first-hand footage forced his followers to engage with the many women and children in long lines to leave their country and with the volunteers who, among many difficulties, are helping Ukrainian refugees when they cross the border. Go to the blog to read more about this art performance and the power of JR’s participative art (and see the making-of video by the artist himself).
Spanish artist DULK produced one of the monumental constructions that were eventually burned as huge bonfires on the final night of Las Fallas, a traditional celebration held annually in Valencia. DULK took the opportunity to address the urgency of protecting endangered species, some of which were represented in his enormous sculpture, and the need to change tack completely to avoid the risk of extinction, symbolized by the representation of the animal species that we already destroyed. Go to the blog to read more about this powerful street installation (and see more pics of the final bonfire):
Norwegian curator, producer, social activist, and street artist VLEK has realised a new stencil piece in the streets of his hometown, Stavanger (Norway). The artist takes the symbol of the Russian Matryoshka Doll to illustrate his idea of what he imagines is inside the Russian warmonger leader Vladimir Putin: a hand grenade.
This meme from Miami’s @museumofgraffiti:
French street art blogger Séverine (Altinnov blog) shared her favorite street art tributes to Ukraine here.
The IG account of @runegraff, which draws inspiration from rock engravings and Camuni graffiti (Camuni is an ancient population from Northern Italy, they were among the greatest producers of rock art in Europe).
I’ve been waiting for this moment since the beginning of the pandemic! For over two years, I’ve been asking myself “What would David Sedaris write about this situation?” and here we are: The New Yorker has just published David’s newest essay “Lucky-Go-Happy.”
“I decided from the start of the pandemic not to get Zoom. “What do you mean, ‘get’ it?” my boyfriend, Hugh, asked. “It’s nothing you have to buy or attach to your computer. You press a button and, wham, it’s there.”
“Well, can you mark which button?” I asked. “I want to make sure I never push it.”
In the course of the next eighteen months, I did do one Zoom event, though it wasn’t on my computer. Instead, someone came to the apartment, and I used his.”
This month I’m reading “The Comfort of Strangers,” a 1981 novel by British writer Ian McEwan. I’m loving the way he describes people and places, very vague and yet precise. The whole story is kind of suspended in a blurred atmosphere, until the final, macabre twist.
I’ve watched the last season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine: it was a bit disappointing, with fewer laughs than I remembered. The whole season felt rushed, but perhaps that’s because I’ve binge-watched it, and there were only ten episodes -while it took me a few months to watch the previous seven seasons.
Do you remember my friend Ana? This month I joined her Morning Pages Circle + Yoga Moves, and showed up every day for it *me proud* :) Now I can’t think of a better way to start the day! I’m joining April’s circle too, if you wanna give it a try you can read about it on Ana’s blog.
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Open Calls for Urban Artists:
Artseen Festival is looking for muralists and public artists for its upcoming festival edition in Midland, Michigan (USA). Apply before April 15th!
Belgian Talk Gallery opens applications for its Art Residency. Apply before April 17th!
Italy’s leading Street Poster Art Festival Cheap is accepting submissions on the theme “On Fire - Like the planet, like the struggles, like our desires.” Apply before July 7th!
From the Archive
The Streets Are Fields That Never Die.
Street Art festivals are back! This weekend the Belgian coastal city of Ostend is hosting once again the excellent Crystal Ship, the festival where I brought you in 2018. Enjoy my journal from behind the scenes of the festival: