Sunday, August 23, 2015

Street art, murals, and a few blocks of midtown Sacramento

Spanish Fly mural, J Street
Bob Dylan, mural on Spanish Fly Hair Garage, Sacramento, by Pete Bettencort
Sunday morning, and I know there's an alley full of street art murals, somewhere in Midtown. I park on the street outside Spanish Fly Hair Garage, aide-memoire for finding the truck again, and of course, there's the mural of Hendrix, Joplin and Dylan on the wall of the hair salon itself.

Street art, Improv Alley
Corner of 17th St and Improv Alley, Sacramento
Turning down 17th Street, there's Improv Alley (short for Improvisation? A drama school? Where's the full stop, the punctuation? Why name an alley, Improv... is it a play on wor...?) And there's the start of the murals that begin on 17th Street and wrap both sides of the alley, all the way to the car rental parking lots 16th Street and back: walls, doors, even windows and garbage dumpsters, all painted, lettered: science-fiction, cartoon, cryptic, abstract, wild, and with heavenly blues and purples throuighout.

Skull and rat
Detail of mural, Improv Alley, Sacramento

Street art, Improv Alley
Detail of mural, Improv Alley, Sacramento
Broken windows and street art, Improv Alley
Broken windows, within a mural, Improv Alley, Sacramento
Back across J Street and through a parking lot to Jazz Alley, where there is a small parking garage (public? private? who knows), Sunday-morning light falling through the skylights, the walls all art, the lone car's glass a mirror of the striking reds of the wall-paint.

Street art and car
Art inside garage, Jazz Alley, Sacramento
(There are three street people sleeping the morning away in the doorway to a building on the alley. I feel furtive, guilty, like I have walked into their home, uninvited. So many people without homes in our city: by the river, under the freeways, in the parks. Makes me sad, ashamed, guilty... walking the streets of the city instead of driving in and out, I notice their plight more than from the driver's seat: many are friendly and smile, most are taciturn, some might audition for The Walking Dead, and one, just one, was so aggressivly angry that I was glad he just kept on walking right out of town on July 4th. Do I have an answer? No... but these are not "tramps", men of the road who chose a travelling way of life: these are people who, one way or another, have fallen to life on the streets, shopping-cart homes, and how many can climb their way back, alone? Do we even try to let them???)

Escaping man
Escape artist? Jazz Alley, Sacramento
"Painting my life... away", "No retreat, no surrender". One artist's words.

Outside, pink stars, an man climbing through a hole in the wall (or the universe?), and the Pink Panther. A vivid train of anger steaming across the wall of the ballet school (@gsillmatic).

Further up J Street, the pretty mural on The Bread Store is more sedate, calm, somehow less hungry. I guess they've eaten croissants for breakfast.

This is art. This is Sacramento art. You cannot walk far in this city without seeing street art, murals, tags, graffiti. Sometimes the edge of "art" and "graffiti" is blurred, especially by those who see all graffiti as evil. But think about this... Banksy this week opened a theme park, Dismaland. That's about as Main Street as you can get. For a street artist, that is.

(For more info on Sacramento Street Art and the artists, you might have to dig deep. Some Sacramento murals have been commissioned by business owners (I believe Spanish Fly is one of them). Some murals were "volunteered" and just appeared.  Submerge Magazine publishes a mural bike tour every year. Few And Far is a group of women artists who have shared their work here. And if you recognise any of the signatures on the muralss/art in the Toon's Tunes gallery, please let me know, so that the images can be indexed correctly.

Mural on wall of ballet school
Ballet school wall, Jazz Alley, Sacramento
Loads more photos from this morning's walkabout in Midtown, in the Street Art gallery, along with art and graffiti from other cities.

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