Street musicians, Central Park

Street musicians, Central Park

I had a few hours to kill before a meeting yesterday so I wandered over to Central Park. I’d gone there planning to take pictures of trees, but was drawn to the street musicians instead (finding bare trees at The Mall swayed things that way).

There was Boris, the saxophone player from somewhere near Argentina. When I told him I hadn’t heard of his town, he kindly told me I needed to review my geography (which is true). On a good day he makes more than $100. On a slow one, like yesterday, he expected to make no more than $80. I hadn’t taken three shots before he started talking to me… and kept talking to me, which is why I have no decent pictures of him in action. I guess you’ll have to take my word for it.

Then there was the double bassist under the Terrace by the Bethesda Fountain. Using my nonexistent Russian vocabulary, or something that sounded Russian, I inferred from a conversation he was having with a passerby that his bass was 150 years old.

I sat near him to take pictures, with full intentions to exit past him. I somehow ended up staying a half hour, never making it to the other side.

Then, I was off to Brooklyn.

Back to the future, Obey Giant styles

Back to the future, Obey Giant styles

Still in the process of setting up my closet, er, bedroom, I recently came across this picture while searching for photos for the frames above my bed (Yes, *I hung them sans pictures because I thought it would motivate me to print photos ASAP. Mind you, I bought those frames two years ago when I moved into my first apartment. This is progress).

I’d decided to use three pictures of three different markets I photographed in my travels — New York, the Philippines and, where the above photo was taken, Barcelona. There’s nothing remarkable about this picture, I actually didn’t even post it on the blog I had back then, except for the sticker behind the blurred figure. I remember being a bit creeped out, taking the picture and moving on. What I didn’t know was it was a stencil of Andre the Giant by graffiti artist Shepard Fairey.

Why I’m bringing this up now, more than two years after this photo was taken, is simply because I love finding little nuggets like this. Without knowing it, I’d come across artwork by an artist who would blow up a little more than a year later.

Regardless of your political leanings, you most likely have seen this image, especially during the 2008 presidential election. Fairey created this stencil, which became the symbol of the Hope campaign. It has since become an icon.

In April, I was able to check out more of Fairey’s work at the ICA in Boston. Lo and behold, Andre the Giant’s face graced the top of the building. I soon noticed his stuff scattered across the city, on walls, on buildings, on lampposts.

What does it all mean, you ask?

Absolutely nothing.

As humans, we often search for meaning in what we don’t understand by finding tenuous links between things that are likely unrelated.¬†Many who see Fairey’s work come up with their own interpretations.

The funny thing is, the sticker itself means nothing. Its whole reason for existing is to be questioned.¬† There is so much information out there on billboards, advertisements that we passively look at, ingest subconsciously and, without knowing it, accept as truth. Most commercials blatantly tell us what they’re selling rather than letting us discover things for ourselves (Remember when the G campaign first came out? That was an exception). With the Obey Giant campaign, Fairey aims to make us think actively about what we see and question our surroundings.

It’s pretty neat how something that didn’t mean much two years ago suddenly makes a bit more sense. I can’t say I decipher every little thing I encounter these days, but it does make me wonder about what else I’m missing.


*Disclaimer: By “I,” I mean my boyfriend. I don’t know how to draw a straight line, much less hang a series of frames evenly.

Ode to Richmond

Ode to Richmond

I’m finally back in New York.

I’ve lived in a few places, from the Philippines, to the Bronx, to Richmond, Va., to smaller cities in Virginia for internships, to a quick stint abroad and most recently Fredericksburg, Va. The one place I always identified with was New York. After leaving the metro area at 13, I’d stayed connected to the city by keeping in touch with friends, visiting and reading New York papers.

I moved unexpectedly or belatedly, depending on how you look at it. It certainly didn’t happen in the circumstances I’d envisioned (though there were many versions in my head). But hardly anything does.

Before I left Richmond, I took a friend and a camera downtown to capture it in pictures.

Just in case I miss it.

ByrdThe Byrd Theatre for $2 movies.

DSC_0066Everyone needs some green in their lives.

Soul IceSoul Ice. It was unusually hot that day, but no one was buying.
“You want some?”
“No, but can I take your picture?”

DSC_0043A lively part of town.

bang onGuy with guitar marches on. Lots of musicians in Carytown.

DSC_0071He settled on a spot beside the theater. I tipped him afterward.

DSC_0107The State Capitol. Lots of suits dining outside.