Street art Sunday: Red Hook

IMG_5736 (2)Red Hook has long been one of my favorite running destinations. When Eric and I were first together, and I was using my visits to explore Brooklyn, Red Hook seemed to me like the quintessential Brooklyn neighborhood: low-rise, industrial, unpretentious, tight-knit, nautical.

Once I moved here for good, I decided that I loved it because those same attributes reminded me of Detroit.

It’s also a great neighborhood for street art, and over the years, I’ve compiled quite a gallery of snapshots taken on the run. Some of the works still exist in more-or-less their original state, some have gone the way of the old Revere sugar refinery, and some are weathered and tagged-up (kind of like me).

A sampling follows. Continue reading

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Street art Sunday: self-referential irony

IMG_5760 (Edited)Today’s look at Brooklyn street art focuses on street art that’s not only aware of itself as street art, it demands that you be aware of it, too.

Like this late, great piece in Gowanus, dripping with irony as well as gold.

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Then there’s this contribution, which can still be seen in Bed Stuy.

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And this from Bushwick, with extra irony courtesy of a passerby.

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But my hands-down favorite is the piece at the top of this post, found in Sunset Park. I like the fact that there’s nothing ironic about it. It’s clever, sure, but it’s cleverness that celebrates creativity, not the other way around.

Street art Sunday: Fridiego

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In honor of the Frida Kahlo exhibit currently on display at the Brooklyn Museum, I present . . . this strange and unsettling mural in Prospect Heights (on Park between Vanderbilt and Underhill).

While I’m not actually a huge fan of Kahlo’s art, and am bemused by the cult-like following that’s sprung up around her, there’s no denying her creativity, her capacity for self-invention, and the fascination of her too-short life. This mural honors all those things, I think.

Street art Sunday: raptors

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The most reliable place to see eagles in Brooklyn? The walls and shutters of Sunset Park.

There’s something special about urban raptors. To catch a glimpse of a soaring turkey vulture from the F train, to see a peregrine falcon in a high-speed dive, or to watch red-tailed hawks perch on a fire escape is to be reminded that there’s an older, fiercer, wilder city within the city. Continue reading

Brooklyn bodega names

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Food and desire in Carroll Gardens

There are certain naming conventions for bodegas. Initials are popular (“L&L Grocery Deli”); so are street numbers (“513 Deli & Grill”). Many bodega names pay tribute to the owners’ city or region of origin (witness the Punjab and Himalayan groceries in Kensington, or the Pueblas, Cholulas and Chinantlas scattered across the borough). In gentrified neighborhoods, bodegas often incorporate “gourmet,” “organic,” or “fresh” into their signage – even as their shelves overflow with Doritos and Red Bull.

This post pays tribute to bodegas that break with convention, adopting names that are especially evocative, sweet, retro or just plain odd.

A sampling follows. Continue reading

Street art Sunday: corvids

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Crows, in Red Hook

For you non-birders, “corvids” refers to members of the family Corvidae, which includes jays, magpies, crows and ravens. They’re smart and playful, often raucous, and you can find them in the most urban of environments. Blue jays gather in scrawny street trees; crows patrol city streets; and ravens, the wildest of them all, are presumed to nest on the roofs of old warehouses and factories along the South Brooklyn waterfront. (As far as I know, no one has actually discovered our ravens’ nest location, which is probably for the best. Let the mystery be.)

Continue reading

Street art Sunday: women

IMG_6888In honor of women’s history month (a thing only in the United States, where we like to declare months to compensate for our neglect the rest of the year) and International Women’s Day, coming up on Friday, this week’s street art post focuses on images of strong, beautiful women and girls around Brooklyn. The spectacular mural at the top of this post can be found at Nostrand and Greene Av in Bed Stuy. It celebrates women who’ve changed the world for the better, including Shirley Chisholm (on horseback, armored for battle), Audre Lorde, Dolores Huerta, Clara Lemlich, Dorothy Day, and many others.

If you don’t know who any of these women are, you should. Continue reading