Street Art: “A Visual Gift”

23 12 2011

It seems like Penn Quarter is quietly becoming the new hot spot for street art sightings. It’s surprising because this little neighborhood is always changing its appearance and is currently going through some remodeling in terms of new business coming in. Over the past few weeks, I’ve already seen some pretty cool street art budding along the streets, so it’s cool to see a consistent flow of new pieces popping up.

Today, I’m featuring a piece I saw at the beginning of the week. Drawing on the Postal Service’s address stickers is popular, probably one reason being, because they are a free medium. As I was walking down on 7th St., I couldn’t help noticing this bright design, gracing the side of the future Wagamama. I love the bright colors used and the playful amorphous design shown. The warm colors stand out in these (supposed) colder months. I also like that you can see that this piece was obviously drawn using markers/pens, a very accessible drawing medium, unlike some street art pieces done with spray paint or a printing process. This piece is like a visual gift for the eye, not dealing with any (obvious) message or reference. How delightful!


Street Art: Janky, Batman, and I Rock

16 12 2011

It’s Street Art Friday! And I have some pretty amazing samples of street art and graffiti to share with you this week. Today’s posting is unique because it features three very different styles of street art, but all of which are pretty rad. They can’t get much more different: we have stickers, a flier, and paint as for mediums. Styles range from the comic book-looking to the child-like hand drawings. The only thing tying these all together is that all three images use only a black and white color palette. Let’s take a look-see, shall we?

First are a couple of stickers by an artist I assume is named “JANKY.” (Hi back!) These pieces speak playful messages to the viewer and are very self-aware of themselves. The first, “JANKY made me” depicts a young figure that is slightly androgynous-looking. The figure has their wrists bound together and is shown in an awkward position. The second figure is simply wearing a large puffy jacket and holding a sign. The comic-book stylings of these figures stand out to the viewer and work well with the combination of the bold lettering.

Next up is a simple flier with a humorous but simple message. We see the well known figure of Batman, with the text, “Believe in me plz,” implying to the viewer that Batman isn’t a real person. But even though the popular super hero may not be accepted as being real or successful (the question of whether we should “believe” is not specific in to what it is referring to), he is petitioning for himself to be recognized. The child-like drawing and abbreviated spelling/text-speak immediately grabbed my attention: I wanted to know what this flier was from and who created it.

So while the first two photos were taken last Saturday in Friendship Heights, I can’t remember the exact location of this third image. On the back of this stop sign we see a number of different tags, stickers, and drawings, but my absolute favorite is the graffiti image of the figure with the words, “I ROCK.” Yes you do, cute little person-figure. I love that this artist chose what looks like kid proclaiming how cool they are, as the subject for their graffiti. It’s simple, lovable style captivated me right away. And it delights with with a positive message. You rock, kiddo! I hope to see more graffiti like this that is so awesome.

Uncle Lucius Treats Again

9 11 2011

They started out in my mind as total rock stars. I was amazed at the hair, the presence, the music, and the overall rocking. It doesn’t happen very often that I immediately fall in love with a band. Usually, it takes some time before I can claim to “love” a band. But not with them. With this group, I was seized from the start. I blogged about them once, twice, and this makes the third time. I didn’t think I could say anything more after my last review, because I hit the right notes with every description, but who am I kidding, Uncle Lucius totally deserves another blog post of a fantastic concert review!

The Uncle Lucius line-up: Hal, Kevin, Jon, Josh, and Mike

For all too many of you who missed the concert, last night’s show at Hill Country BBQ was a real treat. This time I was able to get a friend to come with me and I’m sure the delicious Hill Country BBQ in our stomachs, sure didn’t hinder our fantastic time. Everyone’s favorite Uncle came to rock and boy, did they ever.

I wanted to make last night even more memorable, so I mustered up all my awkward, sober, courage, and moseyed on over to the band members one at a time, before the show. They were conveniently all hunkered down at the bar next to me. I knew what I had to do: get the whole band to sign my CD! I approached Hal first. We had met at the last show and to my amazement, he told me he remembered me. (Totally made my night!) One by one, I made my way to each band member, having a little chat with them and getting their autograph like a true groupie fan. All the guys were truly nice and really enjoyed talking to me. I guess that whole thing about Southern charm is true, because Uncle Lucius sure had it! I was also more than pleased to hear their Southern accents. I love Southern accents!

This is how awesome I am.

But personal conversations aside, the music is really, why I went, right? The concert was fantastic. Most of their music was what I’ve already heard before, which was great because I was delighted to sing right along! I did however, hear a few new songs which really resonated with me. The first of the batch of new songs, was a tune they recently wrote called, “Somewhere Else.” It was very sweet and happy sounding and totally sounded like something the Allman Brothers would write.

Uncle Lucius also did a pretty spot-on cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Parachute Woman.” I really wish I had had enough memory in my camera to take a video of that. Sadly, there isn’t a video of it online anywhere either. As if The Stones’ great twang wasn’t convincing enough to be true Southern, Uncle Lucius performed the song masterfully. I had never heard another band cover this song, and Uncle Lucius was the exact band you’d want to hear do this song.

Another memorable tune of the night was surprisingly, another cover; this time of, “Bring It On Home To Me.” I have a special affinity for this song, and have actually been wanting to make a mix of every cover done of this classic tune, so when I heard Uncle Lucius do this song, I was grinning from ear to ear. They rocked this song in an upbeat manner and they really seemed to have fun with it. Josh Greco’s drumming had a sort of “Blues Brothers-esque” quality to it and Jon Grossman’s keyboard playing was especially pretty. His “tickling of the ivories” was pretty special as the sound delicately stood out among the loud jamming of the rest of the band. (Unfortunately as well, there is no video of this song either.)

It’s one thing to play covers really well, but when you can really deliver on the originals, you know you’ve really got something extraordinary. I came away from last night with a new favorite song from the group, and this one’s a true original. (Previously, I labeled my favorites as, “Everybody Got Soul” and “Ain’t It The Same.”) So it’s my pleasure to share with you my new favorite song, “Now.” This song’s got some funk, and some cowbell, so really what’s not to like?

Another song worth mentioning, was the tune, “Don’t Mean A Thing.” This song gloriously rocked the Country genre. It has your typical Country beat, and made me feel like I was back in Nashville. Really, with that beat going, how can you keep still? I also find it entertaining that some of the lyrics talk about Cleveland, Ohio, since my family is from there. Take these lyrics for example:

“Hell, I don’t mind that you’re leaving.

Ohio’s a good place to be.

You’re going back, to find your ex-husband.

You best forget about me.”

Cute line about Ohio, but really, there’s no way anyone can forget about you. Uncle Lucius is truly unforgettable!

Street Art Friday: Stickers Galore!

21 10 2011

Remember when I used to write about street art I saw around D.C? Those were fun times. Well, the hiatus has been on long enough and today I’m here to end that! I’ve got so many pictures of street art, you won’t know what hit you! So peel yourself off the ground (you know, from being hit) and pick yourself up, because today I’ll show you some pretty fantastic stickers (and one more goodie) spotted while strolling around DC the past few weeks.

The first three are from a walk I took along Independence Ave. in Southwest D.C. There’s some construction that’s been going on on the Smithsonian castle that has been overtaking part of the sidewalk on the North side of the street, next to the Hirshhorn. Construction sites always tend to attract graffiti and street artists, so I had my eyes peeled and my camera at the ready as I walked past…

I love the innocence in the imagery on this sticker. The stenciling of the child's face mixed with the butterfly wing creates a sweet collage.

The stenciled image looks like it's produced by the same artist as the first image. But this one's darker and more fierce. It's a strong action shot!

This was taken mainly for the cute robot in the bottom sticker, that says, "What's Good??" (The top sticker is part of this:

Next up are two pieces I’ve seen in other places. These are especially exciting finds for me, because I’ve seen the same work of these artists in completely different locations and with quite some time passed in between sightings. So it’s both cool that I remembered these pieces and also that the artists are still going strong.

I saw this image years ago in a much smaller size. This large piece was spotted along H St. NE. It's a great cartoon face!

The last piece was spotted on a back side street/alley along Macomb St. in Northwest D.C.  When I spotted the text, it immediately reminded me of this earlier post I wrote where I saw the same text along Wisconsin Ave. in Friendship Heights. This is slightly different however; the writing is scrawled on a sign, as opposed to the cute, small sticker that I previously spotted…

I really like the overlap of text here. A good play with lettering! It begs the question if there is meaning behind the messages of the tag and the sign.

DC Speakeasies

14 09 2011

Hi all! Ready for a fun-filled history lesson today? I bet you didn’t know that Washington, D.C. really used to booze it up in days of yore. During the Prohibition era, Washington was a top spot for underground and illegal drinking. I love the irony since many people think of D.C. as a stiff, rule-making city. But what many do not know is that Washington is apparently also chock full of citizens who just want to have a drink and a good time, regardless of whether it was legal or not.

Here’s a fun fact about Washington, D.C’s colorful and scandalous history:

“There were an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 speakeasies in Washington, DC during Prohibition. During 1931 alone, the police and the Prohibition Bureau raided 1,155 of them. That’s three a day!”

That information can be found on the extremely interesting website, Can you imagine that Washington had something like 2,000 speakeasies? I would honestly like to try and comprehend that statistic, but it’s pretty far-out. Thank goodness that some of the bars and watering holes persisted through that period and that we no longer live in a time of Prohibition. Cheers!

Burger Boycott

13 09 2011

Many of you may know that I love me a good burger joint. Living in D.C. is great for your burger cravings too, with so many places all over the city to satiate your cravings, from Good Stuff Eatery, to Fuddruckers, to Rogue States to Shake Shack to Bobby’s Burger Palace; lest us not forget the always confusing two places: brgr:shack and BGR The Burger Joint. So it isn’t difficult for me to eliminate going to one of these burger places, in my boycott against the company. That’s right, I’m boycotting a well-loved D.C burger place.

The pointing shall begin at BGR The Burger Joint. A word to the wise: unless you order a basic burger, be prepared to fork over more than $10 for your sandwich. Frankly, I feel that this is pretty unreasonable to pay so much for a so-called “gourmet” burger. Of course the website doesn’t list any of the prices either, so you have to be careful of what you order or a be really dedicated fan to be happy with what you pay for your order. Speaking of the high prices, BGR charges a whopping 99 cents to add cheese to a burger. Believe me, that adds up. I’m pretty sure most other places only charge you the standard 50 cents for cheese. Want fires with that? That’s going to cost you even more, plus you’ve got to have a drink.

It all started two visits ago when I went to BGR for a pre-kickball game meal. My complete order of fries and a (not boring and plain) burger came to a total of something like $20. Are you kidding me?? That meal should have cost half as much. I forked over the dough and ate my meal, regretting paying for every bite. Sure, the food is decent, but it’s not my favorite burger either.

Last night I ventured back to BGR with some family members. I made them very aware that I had been boycotting the place, but since I was being treated to dinner, I decided I could give the place another try since I wouldn’t be paying. This time I was more careful to order a simple turkey cheeseburger. I do have to admit that at least BGR makes some tasty sweet potato fries. But then again, I have yet to see a place mess that up. On top of all that, we were accidentally charged and ordered a second milkshake. (I’m sure we didn’t need that extra shake, thanks.) Anyways, I ate my meal and thought that was the end of that. Until I came home hours later completely sick with a stomach ache. I’m not sure why it happened but the toilet became a good friend of mine.

Why has BGR continued to curse me with bad experiences? Was it food poisoning? Either way, it pretty much guaranteed that I really will not be returning to them anytime soon. You guys better get your act together or be ok with losing a disgruntled customer. But I’m not upset with my break-up with BGR. I’ve always got the plethora of other places instead, anyways…

Street Art: SW DC

15 07 2011

Today’s post is highlighting some recent noteworthy street art I spotted last week. The street art scene is alive and thriving in Washington, D.C. and I would like to showcase more and more of these fine examples every week. Today’s examples are both stickers, and both were seen on Independence Avenue in SW D.C.

The first piece is a sticker of a piece that has come to be commonly seen around the Washington area, Stikman. (You can read all about some of his sightings here.) You have probably seen this character all over the many streets and intersections of the city, often times being camouflaged by the crosswalk stripes. Seeing Stikman has become something of an everyday occurrence to me, so this is not about that. More uniquely however, this sighting is instead of Stikman as a sticker on a street sign. The medium is different than usual, and the location is as well. Definitely worth noting.

The second piece of street art, actually looks like a combination of two different artists. It starts with the large, mushroom-looking piece, which actually looks like the work of a well known artist, whose name I can’t quite remember right now. This artist is known for his realistic personifications of non-human objects. I’m kind of sad that this sticker is a little damaged, but that is the risk you take as a street artist. On the top of the mushroom are two stickers that look like the art of the famous cartoonist, R.Crumb. These are artists who could be displayed in a museum, but instead have been possibly-accidentally collaborated with. In any case, it makes for a humorous composition.

Like I’ve been saying, I hope to include more examples of Street Art in CAPSLove in the future. As an artist who is interested in too, having my work on display for others to appreciate, Street Art is a clever idea to me. Each artist is different in not only their art and message, but also for their reasons for choosing to “deface” public property as opposed to a more formal setting. But for whatever reason these artists persist, I thank them for creating art in every day spaces.