Signal Hill has long been a communications point on the Southern California landscape. In an earlier era, Native Americans signaled their brethren with fire and smoke, from Santa Catalina Island to the foothills of the Coastal Range bordering what is now L.A.

Today the signals are electronic, connecting us--at the click of a mouse--to vast, new worldwide networks.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Spain: Barcelona's Guerrilla Art

Barcelona is a visual feast, a center of the arts.  After all, Pablo Picasso spent his formative years here, the genius of architect Antoni Gaudí is seen throughout the city, and the Palau de la Música Catalana is a sight to behold.  But like most big cities, Barcelona is plagued or blessed--depending upon your perspective--with graffiti.  We saw a lot of graffiti, especially along the rail to Sitges as it passed through rougher neighborhoods, tenements to the south of the city.
The most interesting street art--guerrilla and otherwise--is seen on the security doors of storefronts around the city.  The artists, using the corrugated steel doors as their "canvas," often leave the surrounding stonework of ancient buildings untouched.

Graffiti is often frowned upon and seen in America--especially among those who support the "Broken Widows Theory" of criminology--as a precursor to increased crime and the lowering of property values.  If the infamous and mysterious street artist known as Banksy can be believed, some of his work is actually having the opposite effect.  In his book "Wall and Piece,"  he publishes a plea received on his Web site asking him to cease working in a London neighborhood because it is leading to its gentrification.  In other words, it is raising rents because it is becoming so cool to be living near his artwork.

I don't know how the residents of Barcelona take to the guerrilla art around them (It's probably mixed), but it does appear the art is co-existing very well with the tourists of the city.

At the least, the creative spirit, laced perhaps with a dose of the rebel's thrill, cannot be suppressed.

Here are three photos of the best we saw.  Click here to see a few more.

If someone has a link to a good, balanced discussion on this topic, I'd be pleased to consider including it here.

              --- RCH

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