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Battery life

true artist can’t be labeled or put in a box, so why should you restrict your art appreciation to museums and galleries? Street art captures the personality of a city and arguably provides more insight into the community than any museum could. Not to mention, it’s also free. These artistic displays are conversations with the public — expressions of passion and emotion. It’s almost as if there were a man standing on a corner, yelling on a megaphone about something he’s passionate about, but way less annoying and easy on the eyes.

Before we begin, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that while street art is incredibly trendy right now, this is not a new “fad” (do people still use that word?). The shift in discourse from “graffiti” to “street art” is a true indication of gentrification in any given city. Such artistic expression doesn’t seem to have the same appreciation when its not in an “up-and-coming” neighborhood (P.S. “up and coming” is also typically code for gentrification). If I recall correctly, certain people have been arrested for such “vandalism” for decades.

All of the pieces in this article come from the El Raval neighborhood in Barcelona. Previously known as a “dangerous” neighborhood, in the present day, this area has been a prime target of the government’s urban renewal project. According to the Barcelona Field Studies Centre, El Raval has been host to gentrification efforts with the construction of a students’ residence, a new police station and office blocks on the demolished sites. Further developments also include a 14-story hotel.

Here’s some of the street art I admired when I was in Barcelona a few months ago.

Let’s start with love.

This anonymous couple is leaving love notes for one another all across the city, and I can’t even get a text back? A couple in Barcelona shares these messages of positivity and love with the community on empty painted cans, and attaches them to walls all over El Raval.

Why anonymous you ask? Well, here’s your answer.  

Translation: We’d rather stay anonymous in order to keep the adrenaline flowing.

Translation: I do not know what you have but you have it.

Translation: You are love.

Translation: A dream, a vision, a reason to live. 

Fight the Power

Besides messages of love, street art is commonly used for social and political commentary. I’d say it’s more effective than taking to Facebook and posting an indefensible status update, only to end up arguing (via comments) with a long-lost “friend” who was never open to what you had to say in the first place.

The pictures below are some of my favorites and were all found on the walls of a small square in El Raval. This very sacred treasure in the community is a space that honors the 2013 death of Juan Andrés Benítez who was beaten to death by eight police officers. This tragedy was caught on camera by numerous bystanders. This space has now been transformed into a space of hope, expression, and action on matters of immigration, diversity, tolerance, and police brutality.


City-Approved Projects

The city of Barcelona, along with other cities across the globe, is starting to take notice of the power and beauty of street art.

The piece below is the work of a few street artists and was commissioned by the government as a citywide project. It pays homage to the work of Catalan artist Joan Miró, a painter, sculptor, and ceramicist. A museum dedicated to his work is about a 20-minute walk from this iconic piece. 

Keith Haring’s “Together We Can Stop AIDS” mural is definitely one of the most noteworthy. Created in 1989 as an effort to rally the community to fight against AIDS, the MACBA (the Contemporary Art Museum of Barcelona) took responsibility for preserving the work. In 2014, on the 25th anniversary of the creation of the original, the mural was recreated on a new wall.   

Additional Pics:

This is my favorite piece — simple, yet perfect. Across the globe black women are underrepresented in art, as well as many other areas of life; yet here she is, stunning as can be in the middle of Barcelona, promoting a message of diversity.


What kind of conversation would this be if we didn’t pay homage to Mr. Basquiat himself?

There’s not much to it but I love this picture. It captures the essence of a beautiful and contemporary side of residential Barcelona. Plus, I like the round yellow alien-looking piece on the right above the passage (it was all over the city).

The art on this shutter made me happy, so it was worth a picture.

Finally, this is me, becoming one with street art. And that guy laughing in the back, he’s a local street artist who still befriended me even after this picture.