The Photo Vault: Bogotá Street Art


Street art in Bogota, Colombia

Bogotá, Colombia, September 2011

Having just come back from a quick trip to Bogotá where there was no time to sight-see in amongst the errands we had to run, a striking piece of street art took me back to the 4 weeks I spent in Bogotá in 2011 before travelling to Santa Marta and meeting mi novio.

One of the things the most notable things in Bogotá is the street art. I saw it everywhere as I wandered the streets of La Candelaria and I wanted to find out more. The street art in Bogotá is particularly striking because it is more design and imagery and less simple tagging. To me this is art.

I stumbled across a flyer on the pinboard at my Spanish school for a graffiti tour and managed to talk two classmates, including a girl who has also produced her own street art in Switzerland, into going on the tour with me.

We met with Christian, an Australian expat and the man behind Bogota Graffiti Tours, at the Parque de los Periodistas for the tour and learned that they were in their first few weeks of operating the tours. Christian took us around La Candelaria and then further afield to see major street art pieces by well-known local and international artists and explained the many techniques and signature styles of the work. It was fascinating.

Seeing walls like the one in this photo make me happy. It feeds my soul. All of Bogotá is a gallery and these pieces have their place in time. From the moment they are completed the murals begin to change and evolve with weather and other factors. But this also is accessible art where you can get up close to, touch and photograph the pieces without a security guard telling you off.

For me, the street art in Bogotá was the first sign of a cultural smorgasbord waiting to be discovered in the city. I can´t wait to keep discovering more.

The Photo Vault is where I will be sharing my favourite photos (and their stories) that deserve better than being lost in the depths of my iPhoto never to be shared.

The Photo Vault: Statue of Christ


A striking crucifixion of Jesus statue in Encarnacion, Paraguay
A striking crucifixion of Jesus statue in Encarnacion, Paraguay

Encarnacion, Paraguay, 2004

I was in Encarnacion to visit the Jesuit ruins and took this photo in the early evening while wandering around the city after having just arrived. I never made it to the ruins (instead I visited those in Posadas, Argentina) as it rained all day and ended up indulging in a trashy day watching MTV and jumping around on my double bed in a private room to the music. The small joys of budget travellers. However the image of this statue has stuck with me all these years and is on my list of favourite statues for its construction and materials. I love the pose and the skyward look. The hands are so interesting and kind of alien, taking in far less detail than the face and crown of thorns. He also doesn’t have feet and instead the gown ends in a Casper the Friendly Ghost esque tail, signifying Jesus’ transition I suppose. I guess one of more obvious parts is that Jesus isn’t on a cross, and that’s what makes this statue interesting and unique.

If you celebrate Easter, whether for religious or chocolate reasons, I wish you a wonderful weekend.

The Photo Vault is where I will be sharing striking photos (and their stories) that deserve better than being lost in the depths of my iPhoto never to be shared.

Comida por la alma

That is, food for the soul. Which is what I say when I go gallery trawling.

Apparently Santa Fe is the second or third art destination in the US, and Canyon Road certainly helps it earn this reputation. Around 300 art galleries stand shoulder to adobe shoulder along the narrow street. Sculptures abound in gardens and front courtyards. Shingles discreetly identify some of the galleries that open up to a maze of rooms filled with colourful and exciting artworks.

I felt my soul fill up as I browsed the art and pondered my favourites in this historic district that keeps such a local charm and flavour.

I imagined what it would be like to have the disposable income to make considered but personal purchases and certainly found a few that I would have bought if I had a $10,000 art budget.

I also marvelled over the creative talent and wished I could bring to tangible life the ideas that form in my imagination.

Time seemed to stand still as we walked along the street, soaking up the creative atmosphere. Or maybe that was the chocolate vortex we were in after consuming some meso american hot chocolate at Kakawa prior to setting out on Canyon Road.

Notes from the Getty Center

Getty Plaza
Scorching plaza

Needing some tranquil “think space” after a most interesting discussion with Peter the meditation teacher, I headed in the direction of the Getty Center, a gallery/museum perched in the hills that comes highly recommended by friends and guidebooks.

Here are some notes I made during my visit there.

First impressions

“Feeling a little underwhelmed @ The Getty. It’s very stark, bakingly hot with all the marble. Gardens are fairly sparse. Maybe I’ll find something more agreeable inside.”

Feeling the heat

“Shade is hard to come across here. People on tours carry stone-coloured parasols to keep the sun off as they hear about the architectural and garden design. A design that makes them require portable shade.”

Wanting to come up with my own emoticon

**>> which translates to wink, wink, nudge, nudge

On the art

Getty water feature
A beautiful water feature tries to offset the baking hot

A Hare in the Forest, Hans Hoffman – such tiny detail. Spider’s web, creatures peering, hidden, like Animalia. A constant discovery + the colours ping! V. lifelike.”

The Rest on the Flight into Egypt with Saint John the Baptist, Fra Bartolemmo (Bacciodella Porta) – Love the halos, the transparent sash of St John, the palm and golden hue in the background. Mary is beautiful, but v. pale while. Joseph looks old, swarthy and Italian. He looks like he’s resting on a baseball. Discarded pomegranate at their feet seems wasteful.”

Giant Redwood, Santa Cruz, Carleton Watkins photograph from 1880’s – The giant redwood screws out of the earth like a drill bit, it’s bushing top depicting the remnant materials it collected on its way through the crust.”

Getty views
Great view for miles and miles

Whilst my first impressions weren’t overly enthusiastic, I warmed to the place (maybe the beating sun had something to do with that!). Parts of it were still underwhelming, like the Gods of Angkor temporary exhibit. Judging from all the flagpole banners flying around LA, I had expected a mammoth exhibit, like when the Salvador Dali exhibition was on in Melbourne. Instead, it was one small room with a few statues and a couple of information boards about the Angkor period in Cambodia. Completely underwhelming and uninspirational, although I have been to Cambodia and visited the ruins, so it wasn’t new to me.

I did spend some time sitting in the Central Garden reading and pondering, so that was nice, and the views are pretty darn incredible. However, for me, one visit to the Getty is enough.

Brunch, my favourite meal to eat out

I love the languorous nature of brunch. It starts with a sleep in and (usually) unhurried getting ready time. Then there is the soul rejuvenating coffee, the eggs and bacon or pancakes and most importantly, the excellent company of good friends.

Brunch always seems to be the most gossipy of shared meals. You can debrief the events of a big night, each person recalling different details and plots. You find out what people are up to in a bulletin that beats any newspaper or Twitter feed. Afterwards, there is a whole afternoon that can be filled with activity: shopping, more coffee, checking out an art gallery, seeing a movie or just aimless wander. It’s quite spontaneous.

Today I had a two-hour brunch with my friends KP and Galleria*. It’s been awhile since our last brunch, as KP has moved away and only Galleria remains on the arts board we all served on.  At our last brunch, we all arrived wearing the same shade of green, which was a rather coordinated fluke that earned a paying out from Mario the owner. The strict instructions were not to wear green, so I thought I would be safe in a grey tank top with a print on it. However both girls turned up in shades of grey, so we managed to pull off our fluke for the second time running, though this time it wasn’t as obvious. I should have gotten a photo, but we were too busy chatting to pause for a “cheese!”.

So instead, here’s our no-it’s-not-St Patrick’s Day brunch pic instead.

The green team
The green team

We chatted about all the important things in the world:

  • Christmas and the exchanging of gifts
  • Plans for new years
  • Plans for 2011
  • Small-town gossip
  • Animal Kingdom (the movie) and assorted TV programs
  • Family and the mixed bag of love and hate that comes with it
  • Work – the good, the bad and the blah
  • Oprah’s visit to Australia
  • My farewell party(s)
  • Do they think I’ll come back with an American accent (the response was “no, but you’d better not”)

And surprisingly there was hardly any talk of any boys. There just wasn’t time between all that, my two coffees and Moroccan eggs. I heart brunch.

*She may be of Italian descent, but her real name doesn’t translate to Gallery.