Saint John – the “Saint” in the New Brunswick city is spelled out, and the “John” is singular and non-possessive – was to be a quick first stop on our driving tour of Atlantic Canada. Instead, it became the only stop. With the remnants of Hurricane Fiona slamming into Nova Scotia the day we’d hoped to arrive, we headed back stateside and watched the news with horror.
But our one day in Saint John was delightful. As we stood on the corner across from our hotel, debating whether to head to the City Market, the Jewish Museum, or simply wander the Uptown district, not one, but two kind people offered to give us directions.
We’re not lost, we explained, just indecisive.
I was struck by the number of Syrian restaurants in Saint John – not vaguely “Mediterranean” or generically “Middle Eastern,” but specifically Syrian – and by the number of women wearing hijab. That inspired me to do a little googling, which confirmed that this small city has welcomed more Syrian refugees per capita than almost anywhere else in Canada. (And far more, needless to say, than anywhere in the U.S.)
Less consequential and arguably less admirable, but also noticeable: Saint John punches far above its weight in the use of Edison bulbs, which seemed to be everywhere. Their warm, retro glow suits the Port City’s vaguely steampunk esthetic.
And, of course, there’s the city’s street art. A small sampling follows.
Sending heartfelt sympathy to all the Canadians affected by this weekend’s devastating storm.
On Memorial Day, I mixed up my running routine by heading out of Prospect Park to the north, in a general Prospect Heights/Crown Heights direction. With spring migration winding down, I figured it was high time to start reacquainting myself with the less birdy sections of my borough (though as we know, birds are everywhere). And so I meandered through Grand Army Plaza, around the glassy Richard Meier building with the prestigious “1” address, then north on Underhill and east on Park Place. Eventually I hit the complicated intersection where Park Place and Washington and Grand avenues converge to define a small triangle. The triangle is surrounded by a construction fence decorated by multiple artists.
Naturally, I paused to snap photos of my favorite panels:
Having just arrived in Puebla on Friday, I can’t claim to know much about the city (other than the fact that El Carmen on Calle 16 de Septiembre makes incredible cemitas), and there’s certainly beautiful, funny and provocative art to be seen driving into the main bus station, or walking around the Centro Histórico. But if there’s a more extensive – and stunning – display than the one found in Ciudad Mural in the Barrio de Xanenetla…well, I’d be surprised.
At the beginning of the last century, Sunset Park was home to radical Finnish immigrants who set about constructing a cooperative alternative to capitalism. It’s nice to see that spirit endure today – in a different language, of course, the Finns having mostly moved on.
A few more snapshots from around the neighborhood follow.
Sometimes, it’s not enough to park in the bike lane, or in the crosswalk . . . or perhaps all the bike lane and crosswalk parking is already taken. In that case, some Brooklyn motorists see no problem hopping the curb to claim a sidewalk spot.
Not only is sidewalk parking problematic for pedestrians, it also blocks one’s view of cool street art, like this mural in Gowanus. I did my best, but the between the silver Nissan on the sidewalk and the truck parked curbside, it was challenging to capture everything going on in the work.
I ran to and around Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood twice last week: once on a long-shot quest for Snowy Owls (they’ve been showing up in all kinds of unlikely places this year, so why not a warehouse roof somewhere in Red Hook?), once to get sandwiches from Defonte’s. It was on the first run, which meandered through likely unlikely Snowy Owl habitat and yielded no owls, but an inordinate number of Fish Crows, that I saw these cool examples of poster art.
The amorous skeletons at the top of this post were pasted on an expanse of brick wall on one of the quiet streets leading west from Van Brunt toward the waterfront – Van Dyke, maybe? (I made a mental note to remember the location, then promptly forgot it.) They shared the wall with this tagged-over jaguar by the same artist(s) . . .
. . . and this delicate plant, in a very different style.
And finally, not art, but a reminder of how long it had been since my last Red Hook run . . . and how fast the neighborhood is changing; I’m pretty sure this Potemkin building had four walls the last time I was on Coffey St.
I’ve been enjoying these simple line drawings on walls, lamp posts, mail collection boxes, and just about any other flat surface around the neighborhood. They’re stylized, yet somehow show personality; whimsical, yet sometimes poignant. I hope you enjoy them too.
As regular readers will know, I’ve been sporadically documenting the bitterly cryptic comments pasted on walls around Brooklyn by an unknown street artist or artists. It’s been a long time since I found a new one – my last update was nearly a year ago, which in pandemic time equates to either 118 years or 2 days.
Then, on Thanksgiving morning, I happened upon this. Too tagged and tattered to read, it invites multiple interpretations:
By which I mean, between home and Green-Wood. Because of the heat and my general laziness, I’ve been going on short, doodling runs around the neighborhood this past week. Heading south, toward Green-Wood, gives me lots of options of streets to run up and down, so that’s what I’ve been doing. And as I’ve done it, I’ve of course been looking for cool street art – like the mural at the top of this post, on 23rd St. close to Fifth Av.
They’re younger than the TikTok teens who trolled the Trump campaign so brilliantly, but they’re just as magnificent: the Brooklyn kids who’ve been turning out for marches and rallies in support of Black lives. The fence around P.S. 39 at Sixth Avenue and 8th Street has become an impromptu gallery for protest art, as you can see above.