Alaska Road Trip - Denali National Park

Visiting Denali National Park was a must do on our list of things to visit in Alaska.  We drove from Fairbanks (roughly 3 hours) and stayed at the Denali Park Village in a cabin.  We loved the cabin - a small intimate space, nicely appointed.  But the village itself wasn't our favorite because it had that 'serving a million people' feel.  This is a personal preference rather than an indictment of the hotel itself.  The grounds were beautiful.  

By this time we had been on the road for 10 days, we felt tired and in need of some vegging - we spent the afternoon hanging out in the lodge, people watching, and reading books - it was a great space to have some refreshments and relax.   To explore Denali, we took a Kantishna Wilderness Trail Tour - a full day tour departing from the hotel into Denali National Park.   The tour was great - we had a knowledgeable tour guide/bus driver who was informative and interesting.   

Alaska Road Trip - Valdez

From Seward, we traveled to Valdez.  We allotted eight hours driving time for this trip.  In hindsight, rather than drive from Seward to Valdez - I wish we had taken the ferry from Whittier.  But it was fully booked by the time I realized this was an option.  Our favorite part of the drive was the last hour into Valdez during the approach to Worthington Glacier and Thompson Pass.  One tip:  Fuel up and grab snacks in GlenAllen before heading down into Valdez. 

Artist:  Peter Wolf Toth 

Artist:  Peter Wolf Toth 

In Valdez, we stayed at the Best Western Valdez Harbor Inn.  This was a perfect hotel for exploring the city.  We parked the car and walked everywhere - plenty of restaurant and coffee options to choose from.  

Alaska Road Trip - Seward

We left Homer on our way to Seward.  We allotted around 5 hours for the drive.  It was one of those sunny, good driving days!  

Something I liked about driving in Alaska:  road side coffee shops!!!  My love of caffeine was well satiated.  

On the way into Seward, stop at the Trail Lakes Fish Hatchery - we were greeted by a knowledgeable guide who upon learning of my husband's experience in the water sector spent time describing how they treat the water and the challenges of doing so.  

Seward was a fun place to visit - cute shops, scenery, and the Alaska SeaLife Center. 

For my husband's birthday, he wanted to go salmon fishing.  I booked us a room at the Harbor 360 and a charter fishing day trip with ProFish.  The hotel, served a continental breakfast, was clean and perfectly located within walking distance to the marina where we caught the boat.  After fishing, we enjoyed a birthday meal at The Cookery.  An incredible locally owned place that provided a wonderful experience and exquisite food.  

When driving through town, check out the library - beautiful iridescent exterior. 

Alaska Road Trip - Homer and Homer Spit

To celebrate my husband's birthday, we decided to do a driving trip of Alaska.  We flew into Anchorage, rented a car, and spent the next two weeks driving.  It was an amazing trip.  We allotted around 6 hours to drive from Anchorage to Homer.  

Drive from Anchorage to Homer

The good thing about traveling to Alaska in June is you have a lot of daylight to explore.  We arrived into Anchorage early afternoon, rented a car, and started driving.  Coming from Phoenix - our sight was immediately assaulted with a beauty unlike anything we see in our daily life.  Every turn yielded mountains and stunning views.  

Tip:  Stop at the viewing area going into Homer.  We were treated to beautiful flowers and views.  A local gardener working the flower beds gave excellent advice as to things to see and do in Homer and the Homer Spit.

Homer Spit & Homer

What a wonderful place to visit - art galleries, seafood, street art, and incredible views.  We stayed at the White House Inn at the Waterfront, a perfect place for us to explore Homer and the Homer Spit.  This was the scene near our Inn, taken at 1130 PM in June.  Wow!  I heard about the days that never end but didn't realize what it would be like - beautiful hues!  

The Homer Spit is around 4.5 miles long and is a narrow strip of land filled with art galleries, shops, restaurants, and views of Kachemak Bay.

Stop for refreshments at the local Salty Dawg Saloon!

Our favorite locally owned place:  The Bagel Shop.  This was a highlight of our trip!  Serving up bagels with wonderful flavor combined with a divine chew factor...yummy before the fixings were added.  Bagel & Lox with a cup of coffee.  Yummm, wish I had one right now!    A rainy day was perfect for exploring the Pratt Museum, local art galleries, and NOMAR, a local manufacturing company.





#StreetArt, Literally. Homage to Water and Wastewater Sector via Book: Drainspotting by Remo Camerota

Our built environment is filled with a myriad of sites, images, and infrastructure.   Often overlooked are manhole covers .  A shout out to those serving within the water and wastewater sectors either as city or municipal workers or as consultants.  Okay true confessions - I admire greatly those who work in the water and wastewater sectors.  I have been privileged to provide consulting services to this sector and  have a sense that often times accolades go to City Police and Fire - clearly critical services with little mention of water and wastewater...that is unless there is a main break, boil water order, or sewer overflow - then the doo doo hits the fan and negative press prevails. (big grin).  Water and wastewater services are critical city services providing reliable, safe, drinking water, water for fire suppression and treatment of our wastewater.  We depend on them for the services they provide and I want to say thank you. 

I was thrilled when I found Remo Camerota's book entitled Drainspotting showcasing the highly decorative Japanese manhole cover.   What better homage to our city workers than a book highlighting part of a city's infrastructure.  Camerota emphasized that in Japan, "all objects are created with an aesthetic sensibility" (p. 7).  So it is for the >6000 decorative manhole covers in Japan.  He beautifully curated his selections and captured the spirit of the aesthetic with photographs of manholes organized regionally:  Kanto Area, Chubu Area, Chugoku Area, Shikoku, Area, Kyushi Area, Okinawa, and Disneyland.  He includes photos of historic manholes 50 years or older plus an interview with the president of the Nagashima Foundry.  A highlight of the interview is a description of the process used to design and produce the manhole covers.   

Osaka Prefecture, Japan.  Photo by Andy Smith, Attribution-Noncommerical-noDerivs 2.0 generic, no changes were made, non-commercial use Retrieved from

Osaka Prefecture, Japan.  Photo by Andy Smith, Attribution-Noncommerical-noDerivs 2.0 generic, no changes were made, non-commercial use Retrieved from

Hiroshima, Japan.  Photo by Andy Smith, Attribution-Noncommerical-noDerivs 2.0 generic, no changes were made, non-commercial useRetrieved from

Hiroshima, Japan.  Photo by Andy Smith, Attribution-Noncommerical-noDerivs 2.0 generic, no changes were made, non-commercial useRetrieved from

A beautiful book featuring a part of our built environment often overlooked!  

Other Resources

International Manhole Cover Museum - Italy  

Japanese tourism website highlighting manhole covers  

Remo Camerota provides drainspotter's with an online blog resource

S. Morita's Photography:  Manhole Covers:  

Strategy, J. (2014).  The beauty of Japan’s artistic manhole covers.  Colossal.  Retrieved from 

Tata and Howard offers 25 unique manhole covers in the United States.

Note:  City of Phoenix photo via Greg H. - Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic, no changes were made, this blog post is for non commercial purposes.  Retrieved from

By Remo Camerota

Where were you in 1975-1979? Beware A Leader's Capacity to Lead

Some places fill your pores with a sense of memory, foreboding and wariness. Cheong Ek Genocide Memorial, located approximately 15 KM from Phnom Penh is one of many killing fields within Cambodia.  Tuol Sleng - Site 21 was a site of imprisonment, torture, and murder located in Phnom Penh.  Both are reminders of man's capacity to espouse a hateful rhetoric and afflict horrendous acts upon fellow citizens in the name of ethnicity, religion, profession, and political affiliation.  Male, female, young, old - no one was immune from being deemed an enemy of Cambodia and the Khmer regime.  Pol Pot came to power as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea giving rise to the Khmer regime.  For the Cambodian people this rise to power represented an onset of fear, terror, and genocide within the country.  The horrors of surviving this time period where between 1.5 and 2.5 million people are tortured and murdered affects a people, affects us all, really.    

Both sites have signs posted to remain quiet but the signs were unneccessary - my experience while there was of silence except for birds in the trees and chickens roaming the property.  Walking both sites evoked a seriousness and a sober-ness.  Watching others process, observe, react, cry, leave a room, turn away - somehow observing even in hindsight affects us individually and collectively.  I didn't take a lot of pictures at either site - both felt like sacred ground, like places to be still.  

The Memorial Buddhist Shupa at Cheong Ek is multiple stories high acrylic sides with the lowest level including clothes at the site, next levels include over 5000 human skulls, and the upper levels including other bones - all found at this killing field.   

Signs of beauty and life around the Killing Fields.

Tuol Sleng site...


1975-1979 - Where were you?  What were you doing during these years?  I finished 8th grade and went to high school - meanwhile, seemingly a world away Pol Pot arose to power.   One account indicated that within 3 hours of taking power, people were being excised from Phnom Penh.    The horrors of surviving a time period where between 1.5 and 2.5 million people are tortured and murdered affects a people, affects us all really.   Only 40 years ago! We're not talking ancient history - within our lifetime!  I found myself concerned at how powerful a leader's ideologies are in influencing a nation to ill effect.   Some thoughts on leadership:      

A leaders's actions and communicated ideologies are derived from his or her deeply held values and worldview.

Those with horrific ideologies believe they are 'right' and represent what's 'good' for a country and her people.  

A authoritarian leader may ~seem~ as though they have the common good at the root of their message and eloquently communicate this sense manipulating people to believe they have people's best interests at heart. 

People (some) will follow and enact an authoritarian ideology focused on difference and perceived categories (nationality, ethnic, race, gender, profession, religion...).  For those who inflicted torture and who murdered, I wonder if afterwards in their life there was remorse, a sense of oh my gosh what have I done...

A regime's first act is to categorize, divide, and exclude people (those for the Regime, those who are not) and to communicate that division, always accompanied by secrecy, fear methods (imprisonment, torture, death), and destruction of cultural artifacts, those things that connect a people one to another.  

Once a regime and its methods get established, the system of abuse, torture, and murder instill a fear and a systematization that can be maintained for a while.

Regimes meticulously document their actions through record keeping, logbooks, and photographs.  There were rooms at Site 21 filled with photographs of those who were housed there. 

Time reveals the truth and extent of a leader's actions, but while it's happening it may be unclear the extent of the horror.  However - words are precursors to action and/or provide clues that we should be wary of (exclusion, boundary setting, hateful rhetoric, gross generalizations or categorizations), etc.

Hope.  Despite a horrific history and collective memories around that history, people trust again, they live a hopeful life, and can go on.   


Cheong Ek Genocide Memorial

Tuol Sleng

Time Magazine The Legacy of PolPot:  A Photographic Record of Mass Murder.,29307,1948150_20,00.html

#StreetArt & #Graffiti The Berlin Wall and the East Side Gallery Berlin

Visiting the East Side Gallery in Berlin was a highlight of our trip. The East Side Gallery is located at the Muhlenstrasse in Frederickshain - many of the photos included in my blog post #StreetArt & #Graffiti #Berlin were taken in this area.  The East Side Gallery is free and public open at all times.  From August 1961 to November 09, 1989 - the Berlin Wall enclosed West Berlin cutting through the city.  Throughout the city, there are markers indicating where the wall stood.

Wall remnants remain throughout the city - at Potsdamer Platz for example.

Other wall remnants on display:

The East Side Gallery is understood as a monument to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the peaceful resolution of boundaries and conventions between companies and people

Thoughts following my visit to the East Side Gallery

Walls are barriers serving to keep people in or to keep the unwanted out.  Barriers long thought as protective also create a numbing sense of isolation from ideas, life, and culture.   Why does it seem that when a regime comes in the first thing they do is attack the cultural centers - museums, libraries, public art displays, street art, graffiti, theater, dance, or music.  Artifacts are destroyed, laws are enacted to prohibit certain creative acts, censorship rises, and the tolerance for those who create decreases.  Call me a mush brain but the symbolism of art placement on the Wall brought tears to my eyes.  So much creativity alongside a historical remnant of barrier and isolation.  

The shear volume of street art and graffiti in Berlin optimistically communicated to me that humans desire to create, they desire a vibrancy and the capacity to voice their inner thoughts.  We will not be silenced - whether through street art, graffiti, poetry, music - whatever form it takes, we will not, cannot, and should not be silenced.

Other Resources

Berlin East Side Gallery Retrieved from

Berlin's East Side Gallery on film.  Retrieved from

Berlin Wall Memorial.  Retrieved from

#StreetArt & #Graffiti #Berlin

Berlin is a city that holds a great deal of fascination.  I remember the rhetoric of East/West, cold war, and communism.  Our school held drills to gauge our readiness to respond to a cold war initiated attack.  Movies often depicted Berlin as as dark, grey place and the Wall as a symbol of division, deprivation, and oppression.  Berlin - post fall of the wall has an international reputation for street art and graffiti.  The photos included here were taken in May 2014...  the temporality of Street Art and Graffiti suggests that some of these may no longer exist.  For example, the Blu and JR paintings depicted below were painted over in protest to gentrification (December 2014) - See   Why We painted over Berlin's Most Famous Graffiti

So it is that to select a sampling of street art and graffiti representative of Berlin is an impossible task - but here goes.  I encourage you to peruse the complete suite of pictures taken...presented at the end of this post.  



Stencils and Pasteups

See all the Berlin Street Art and Graffiti pictures taken in May 2014:

#StreetArt Barcelona Spain

Barcelona is an incredible city for street art where practically every metal gate covering a storefront has characters, lettering, stencils, or pasteups.  It was visually one of the coolest places to explore because you had to constantly be looking - up, down, side to side.  I've posted pictures and some notes about a street art tour done with Barcelona Street Style Tour.  These are but a sampling of images I saw in the day and half I had to explore.  


Pasteups, Stencils



Complete set of Barcelona Street Art photos:  


Some final thoughts - Street art and graffiti are illegal in Barcelona.  These artists risk arrest and a fine of...I heard... 3000 euro.  On some deep level I admire artists who must create and take risks to do so.  I realize that naysayers talk about legality, vandalism, blah blah blah.  I understand all this BUT - at the end of the day, the mosaic of colors, textures, and images ornament the city in a way that contributes to Barcelona being Barcelona.  Barcelona is a rich, colorful, and vibrant city - in part - because street and graffiti artists contribute to the built environment, augmenting, coloring, and creating a language and aesthetic.  It's really quite beautiful and inspiring.  

#StreetArt Avondale Arizona

Historic Avondale Arizona is a city of approximately 76,000 people west of Phoenix.  It is also a city daring to imagine itself as an arts district.  I was pleasantly intrigued when I heard about Avondale's intentionality with regard to public art specifically street art and murals.  As a city, Avondale defines public art as:

Any work of art or element of design, created by visual or public context artists, that is sited in a public place for people to experience. This can include installations, murals, outdoor sculptures, or infrastructure such as public fixtures or furniture and other function elements that are designed and/or built by artists.

My favorites along Western Avenue between Dysart and Litchfield Roads:

"Road to Rebirth," painted by Edward Buonvecchio and 10 apprentices,707 E. Western Ave.

"Road to Rebirth," painted by Edward Buonvecchio and 10 apprentices,707 E. Western Ave.

Ky Thorton and Mel Gee painted this mural, "Angelic Energy," on a wall near the corner of 6th Street and Belmont Avenue. 

Ky Thorton and Mel Gee painted this mural, "Angelic Energy," on a wall near the corner of 6th Street and Belmont Avenue. 

Angel Diaz

Angel Diaz

DJ & Music by Marsh Sale and Miles Davis tribute mural by Hugo Medina at 701 E. Western.

1.  Servous Nystem "Collaboration of Styles," painted by Carols Rivas and Edgar Fernandez, 701 E. Western. 2.  Project directed by Martin Morena on the corner of Central and Western.  3.  unknown artist.  4.  Cesar Chavez by El Podrido on the side of Taqueria La Jacky, 532 E. Western Ave.  5.  Mariachi Gold painted by Veronica Verdugo-Lomeli at Zamoras Cafe & Restaurant, 606 E. Western Ave and 6.  JB Snyder.

Artists:  Bryan Kilgore and Margaret Lieu - In an alley just north of the Estrella High School, west of Central Ave.

Car murals

Avondale has designated The Creative Arts District as those properties adjacent to Western Avenue, primarily west of Dysart Road, extending to Avondale’s border with the City of Goodyear.   This is a very walkable area filled with shops, murals, and other public art.  




#Baltimore #StreetArt Sampling

Roughly three hours - this is the time I had to explore Baltimore - not nearly enough time in a city with such a rich heritage and many things to do.   Maddeningly insufficient when I realized Baltimore's focus on street art murals via the Baltimore Mural Project which has added over 250 murals in the city since 1975 and the Baltimore Open Walls project organized by Gaia, a Baltimore based street artist.  



To focus my efforts (and feel a sense of do-ability), I decided to spend my time in the Station North Arts & Entertainment district using the map published on the Open Walls Project site.  Tip for a novice Baltimore driver - pay attention to one way street signs - let's just say perhaps there were times I missed the sign and ended up going the wrong way which I only noticed when I realized cars were parked facing the other direction...thank heavens there wasn't a lot of traffic!

On my way there, I found these two cuties by Pixel Pancho (a FAV street artist) and a new fav Nether 410, a Baltimore street artist.  

Really cool pieces by Jaz

A stunning piece by Ernest Shaw

Overunder tribute to Dennis Livingston, a Baltimore activist - the detail on this was incredible!  

Vhils is always easy on the eye!  Love the context of this...

For all my love of murals, I also love graffiti!  There's something very cool about lettering and the creative way graffiti artists work - it's a different genre equally visually interesting and communicative.

A highlight of my walk was a visit to Graffiti Alley, an L-shaped alley off Howard, between Howard and Maryland.  A legal place in the city for Graffiti.

For all the pictures - view slide show:

I finished my walk at Red Emma's, a radical bookstore, coffee shop, and learning space - The Baltimore Free School.  According to Red Emma's mission:

It’s possible to build institutions that directly put values like sustainability and democracy to work. . . to build a resource for movements for social justice. . . . to be “radical” is to go to the root of the problem, to not be afraid to attack root causes rather than be distracted by the symptoms on the surface.
— Red Emma's Mission

The purpose of the Baltimore Free School is stated as "collective learning and participatory education. . . . the empowerment of the people of all ages and backgrounds to share and learn is vital to the health of any community. . . . we work toward creating a space where the exchange of ideas can occur. . .a space where we can learn to relate to other in new and meaningful ways."  Wow!  This truly speaks to my heart about what I believe the focus of education should be.  Approaches grounded solely in Information transmission type methods and purposes are inadequate to inspire, empower, and foster learning and the raising of individual and collective consciousness beyond material conditions and historical situatedness.  Education is not value free - it's rooted in a philosophy and assumptions about the human persons and our shared being.   We must create those spaces where people identify and name biases and assumptions influencing thinking, decision making, and should be about this...MUST be about this.  Our human home and sense of interconnectedness demands this persistent attention to consciousness raising and transformation.  Okay - I'm on a soap box (smile).  I had not heard of the Baltimore Free School before this trip - I'm so happy I ended my walk here - the mixture of things I love - street art, graffiti, coffee, books, and education.  Really looking forward to a return trip to Baltimore!  Lots more to explore, murals to see!


Baltimore Free School.  Retrieved from

Baltimore Mural Project.  Retrieved from

Baltimore Open Walls Project.  Retrieved from

Ernest Shaw article.  Retrieved from

Gaia website.  Retrieved from

Graffiti Alley Article Retrieved from

Nether 410 website.  Retrieved from

Overunder website.  Retrieved from

Pixel Pancho website.  Retrieved from

Red Emma's website.  Retrieved from

Station North Arts & Entertainment District.  Retrieved from

Vhils website.  Retrieved from

Reflections on Venezia (Venice) and the Art Biennale

Venice and the Art Biennale were on my list and since I was in the neighborhood anyway (in Barcelona for a conference) seemed prudent to take a side trip. At least this was my rationalization...admittedly, I am fairly adept at rationalizing travel...or so my husband tells me.  Ha Ha!   Since the hubster was unavailable, I asked my sister-in-law and niece if they might be interested given we've been talking about Italy FOREVER and my niece is an art education major making the art biennale an 'educational' opportunity.  And so it was that three Crumpton women traveled to Venice Italy for a week of exploring, art, and eating.  

The plan was that I would catch an early flight from Barcelona and meet them when their flight from the US arrived.  As luck would have it - the baggage carousel where my bag arrived was next to the baggage for the US flight where they stood waiting.  I don't know what the odds are for this to happen but...that was my first indicator of how cool this trip would be!    We grabbed bags and headed to the Alilaguna public transport (Tip 1) -  a boat from San Marco airport on the Blue Line to Venice.  You exit the airport with your luggage in tow and then walk roughly 10 minutes to the pier to catch your transport.  Just follow the crowd and keep walking until you hit water (Tip 2).   The transport ride was around 90 minutes from the airport to San Zaccaria stop (Tip 2).  We stayed at a Best Western property, Hotel Bisanzio.  This was a perfect location for exploring - friendly staff, breakfast included, and they had a room for 3.  PLUS, it was one bridge and one alley away from the transport stop (Tip 3).  

After dumping our luggage we headed straight to Piazza San Marco for cafe and people watching.  We enjoyed cafe and hot chocolate at Caffe Lavena while people watching and listening to music.   The Caffe is expensive but location, location, location.  Feeling somewhat refreshed it was time to explore (Tip 4).  Our walk took us to the Bridge Rialto which was under construction and ultimately to an early dinner at Trattoria Al Scalinetto (Castello, 3803-30122) - Mama in the kitchen, son waiting on tables.  It was a perfect relaxing time to eat and let it soak it that we really were in Venice!  Later in the day - another walk and gelato in San Marco Piazza (Tip 5).

On Monday, Day 2, we walked to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum and the Bridges of Graffiti exhibit.  The Peggy Guggenheim museum presents the collected art of Peggy Guggenheim within her former home.  She is buried on the property.  I'll do another post about Peggy Guggenheim and the museum soon, I was inspired post-trip to read a biography on her life to learn more about this woman, her passion for art, and the history behind this museum.  Per the website, the museum hosts "Cubism, Futurism, Metaphysical Painting, European abstraction, Avant-Garde Sculpture, Surrealism, and American Abstract Expressionism."  A highlight of the experience were the photos within a room of that room with the specific paintings now on display combined with an exhibit of Jackson Pollack works including The Mural (no photos were allowed)!  

Starved - we had lunch on a lovely terrace at the Ristorante Lineadombra.  This was an incredible pause  - imagine a warm sun, sitting on a terrace over the water, great food, wine, and conversation with family.  Perfect!  

The Bridges of Graffiti exhibit at the ArteTerminal featured works by ten graffiti artists including  Eron, Futura, Doze Green, Todd James, Jayone, Mode2, SKKI ©, Teach, Boris Tellegen, and Zero­T.  I'll do another post on this exhibit and Venice street art - this was a highlight for me!  Near this exhibit we saw two C215 pieces - a favorite street artist!

We finished this day by window shopping, eating pizza out of a window, and of course the coup de grace - enjoying gelato (Tip 7).

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we visited the  56th La Biennale di Venezia - Giardini and Arsenale locations along with various Collateral Events throughout the city.  Founded in 1893 the biennale incorporates (a) country pavilions where each country has their own pavilion and exhibit addressing the biennale theme and (b) curated exhibits represented by individual artists invited to submit a work in keeping with the biennale theme.  Two primary locations are the Giardini and Arsenale with multiple other venues throughout the city that are described as 'collateral.'  The biennale is closed Monday but open other days from 10 until 6 PM (Tip 8).  Our strategy was to visit Giardini on Tuesday, collateral locations on Wednesday, and then Arsenale on Thursday.  Our thought was that we might need a break from the concentration of art at a specific venue such that walking from venue to venue might alleviate 'art fatigue.'  This turned out to be a good strategy!  In advance of the trip, we explored Biennale Top 10 lists and had a quasi- priority for pavilions wanted to see.  Once at Giardini, we started with individual exhibits followed by the country pavilions.  In hind sight, we thought it would have been better to prioritize the country pavilions and then if time see the individual exhibits.  While there - remember the rules, stop for lunch and cafe in the afternoon.  Both Giardini and Arsenale host beautiful views of the water...of course, there's really no bad views, just be sure to hit pause in the day to enjoy the location and people watch. 

Venice is a wonderful city - I loved the Art Biennale, that Venice is a good walking city (Tip 9) and leisurely.  There is are plenty of spaces to enjoy a cafe, snack, and just people watch.  Often this is a great time to recalibrate as to where you really are because you're lost.  (Tip 10).  I like to window shop - there's plenty of small shops to be had for clothes, leathers, murano glass, etc.   I'm already thinking towards 2017 when the biennale is hosted again.  I would love to return!  


1.  You can pay what you want via private water taxi (estimated 120 to 125 euro) or you can take the public transportation for 15 euro one way or 27 euro/RT per person.  I'd rather spend money on food and beverages than transportation!  

2.  Pack lightly.  Remember that you are going to have to walk to the transport with your luggage, then once you arrive at Venezia, you have to transport your luggage to your hotel.  Everything you bring has to roll or be carried.  Don't overpack!  Before you leave home - look at your Venice hotel website to determine the closest transport stop.  If there are walking instructions once you arrive in Venezia, bring those too.

3.  Select your hotel wisely!  Logistics are important because you're going to fly in with all your luggage, then walk to the transport (See Tip 2), and then have to transport your luggage to the hotel.  Any walking in Venice includes cobblestones and bridges and even with directions, there's a likelihood that you will get lost.  We saw people late at night arriving with luggage and I thought good luck.  Make it easy on yourself to select a hotel near a transport stop.

4. In the corner of the Piazza (opposite the San Marco Basilica there is a Tourist Information Center + a public restroom (WC).  Pick up a brochure for the Art Biennale here that details the map and exhibits.  You'll need coins for the for the public restroom - 1.50 euro.  There is an attendant who can make change.  

5.  Eat gelato every day.  Why?  It's gelato.  Because you're in Venice.  And it's gelato.  

6.  Think leisure when it comes to eating.  There's no other time like the present so just relax.  My #1 rule for travel planning - have a few things you want to see with sufficient padding to sit, enjoy a meal, drink vino, and just be present.  These sorts of moments cannot be rushed - they're to be savored.  Venice is a city that calls for enjoying a cafe, people watching, and soaking in the beautiful sights.  

7.  If you have any notion of 'dieting' in Venice, then just stay home.  That's a dumb idea to plan on denying yourself an integral part of the travel experience - enjoying the food - pasta, bread, cannoli's, pizza on the street, gelato, cafe, vino - you have to try it all.  

8. Art Biennale - We purchased our tickets the day that we were visiting a venue, there was a short line wait.  If waiting in line drives you crazy then purchase tickets in advance.  

9.  Venice is a walking city.   Public transportation includes water taxis - otherwise, you're walking.  Wear comfortable shoes!  There are many bridges, cobblestone streets, and what you think is a short walk or distance is really 2+ hours because the route in indirect or you get lost (Tip 10).

10.  You will get lost, turned around, disoriented, think you're one place only to realize you're somewhere else.This is Venice.  Relax - soon you'll find a cafe, piazza, or some landmark that you'll see on a map and can get reoriented.  If all else fails, look for signs for Rialto Bridge or San Marco - they'll show up eventually.  


#StreetArt #Richmond Virginia #RVA

Street Art as an expressive form is experiencing an international zeitgeist in urban settings with cities like Richmond, Virginia intentionally inviting internationally recognized street artists to paint public murals throughout the city.  

The Richmond Mural Project 

Curated by Shane Pomajambo, CEO and Creative Director of Art Whino Gallery, the Richmond Mural Project is an overt project designed to use street art to:

Establish Richmond as a landmark destination for internationally recognized murals. . . . [creating] exposure for the city, establishing it as a premier art destination.
— Richmond Mural Project

Kudos to Shane Pomajambo for such a wonderful collection of street artists - a place to study, learn, and observe the varying artists' techniques and styles!  

Street Artists

For a street art enthusiast - Richmond provided a wonderful collection from which to expose me to those artists I typically only see on my Twitter #streetart feed.  Artists included:  2501, Andrew Hem, Angry Woebots, Aniekan, Aryz, James Bullough, Caratoes, Chazme and Sepe, Clog Two, Clog Two and Inkten Collaboration, D*Face, David Flores, Ekundayo, Etam Cru, Ever, Evoca1, Gaia, Greg Mike, Inkten, Jaz, Jerkface, La Pandilla, Lelo, Meggs, Moya, Natalia Rak, Nils, Onur, Pixel Pancho, Roa, Robert Proch, Ron English, Scribe, Smithe, Sonni, Stormie Mills, Wes21 and Onur, Nils Westergard, Taylor White, Jason Woodside.  Some of my favorites:

Questions about Street Art

This truly was an incredible opportunity to see some great street artists.   Curation implies decision making about selection, preservation, maintenance, and collection.  A curator facilitates decision making - who's in or out including who or what's acceptable and within the scope or vision for the city's public spaces and built environment.  Further, those who endorse a project like this decide what other forms of expression within the public built environment are permittable. Some questions arose as I walked the city:   

  • Nils Westergard is a fabulous local Richmond artist who participated in the project.  What other local artists were invited to participate?  Is there a way with these sorts of projects to engage and intentionally highlight local artists' contributions?  
  • I observed evidences of wall scrubbing where others' expressions had been scrubbed or painted over.  With the scrubbed walls - who was silenced?  Silencing is about power - who controls the streets and what is permittable?   Are the underserved incorporated or provided an opportunity to participate?  What was said or displayed that is no longer visible?   Are there other venues where those silenced publicly can provide input, have a voice?   
  • Street art in non-curated occurrences is generally understood as temporal.  Is the curated mural understood to be temporary or is there another standard?
  • What are the benefits for this sort of mural project?  How can or should other cities pursue this sort of project?  
  • What are existing laws regarding graffiti or street art?  If illegal, what was the process for navigating those laws in support of this sort of project?

Street art provides such a rich topic for conversation about community, creative expression,  incorporation, philosophy of public art, and legality. Richmond is a terrific place to explore, see great street art, and ponder the questions arising from such a project.  

Richmond Logistics Notes

I stayed at the Linden Row Hotel - an incredible space, those who work there are rabid passionate about customer service.  For breakfast, a must try are their maple scones!  I didn't have a car and found the city easy to navigate - I walked everywhere day and night exploring, observing, and enjoying the city.  My one must try was Mama Js - oh my goodness the fried chicken and peach cobbler were ridiculously good! 


G40 Summit - (also in Richmond) website:   Retrieved from

Richmond Mural Project website.  Retrieved from

Richmond Mural Locations (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) Map.  Retrieved from


#Streetart Barcelona Street Style Tour #ILA2015

In my mind, any location deserves a deeper look with regard to the built environment and street art or graffiti found visible to the public.  So when I learned that the International Leadership Association (ILA) was holding their annual conference in Barcelona, I was ecstatic for Barcelona is recognized internationally as a vibrant, creative, abundant street art scene.  

ILA 2015 Post Conference Tour/Workshop:  Barcelona Street Art: An Exploration of Street Art, Culture, Politics, and Culture 

My basic idea was that a tour/workshop featuring Barcelona's street art would be fun affording participants an opportunity to explore boundary and intersectional questions pertaining to: street artists, their art, expression, and subculture versus the streets, and public versus private spaces including who decides what is acceptable; formal (often commissioned) versus informal art; and legality and criminality of artist’s activity.   So I contacted Barcelona Street Style Tour - co-founded by Joachim Castaneda and Mike Frankos assisted by Dominic Attard to see if they might be interested in designing a street art tour specifically for ILA participants - a process that required developing a proposal and selection via a competitive process.  Our proposal, selected for a post-conference tour, included two parts:  (a)  Street Art Tour led by Mike Frankos and (b)  How-to Make Graffiti workshop conducted by Dominic Attard.  

Barcelona is a city with a rich cultural, artistic, and political history. Barcelona’s urban art takes a variety of forms ranging from simple written words to elaborate murals, graffiti, street art, pasteups, tags and stencils. This tour highlighted Barcelona’s graffiti and street art movement showcasing the latest works of art found adorning almost every wall in the city center. For an introduction to Barcelona street art, see Las Calles Hablan is a documentary film about "discovering a hidden world, an extraordinary subculture and the struggle between an artistic community painting for freedom of expression and an increasingly restrictive dogmatic government."  Some highlights of the tour through pictures:  



  1. "Seeing" and observing what is going on within our built environment  is a capacity that must be taught and exercised.  One participant noted, "Now that you see street art, you see it every where."
  2. Street art adds vivaciousness, stories, and richness to the built environment.  The artists who put their works on the streets are people, with stories, and for a variety of reasons, a desire (need?) to express themselves using this media.  
  3. Street art represents a sub culture with rules, norms, and shared understandings.  For example - Barcelona based street artists paint on the roll down metal doors.  Per Mike, travelers are those who paint on the walls...  Placement of tags, signatures, etc. follows rules of the street with regard to respect for artists' work.
  4. Street art takes a variety of forms and styles:  murals, paintings, stickers, pasteups, stencils; characters, figures, scenes, words, shapes, abstracts, etc. 
  5. Street artists have reputations - some artists like Pez have international reputations, they are known, their style is recognizable.
  6. Street art is illegal in Barcelona, offenders face a 3000 euro fine but street artists take the risk, their work is evident throughout the city.
  7. Highlight:  Visiting Base Elements Urban Art Gallery 
  8. A tour/workshop like this raises questions:  Where else is street art?  What is the 'scene' like in the US?  Are the same issues facing US street artists?  Who is studying the phenomena?   How do we incorporate more experiential efforts like this into the ILA.
  9. Post-conference was perfect because ILA participants were relaxed - their presentations were done, nothing was ahead of them except fun.
  10. Next time I would build in a snack break or more time in advance of the tour so people could grab food.
  11. When doing an event like this particularly in an international context - people likely won't be checking email, have a communication contingency.
  12. Do more of these sorts of events at ILA conferences.  Presentations/workshops are fine and serve their purpose but ours is a very educated, thoughtful group - they don't need in your face scholarship to think, learn, and ponder (grin).

Barcelona Street Style Tour

What a great company and group of guys to work with in organizing this tour - fun, responsive to the goals we set forth for the tour/workshop, and interested in the group's makeup and interests.  Joachim took the lead on logistics, scheduling, and helping work out the details with the ILA.  He is efficient, responsive to emails and demonstrated enthusiasm for the project.  Mike Frankos conducted the walking tour - he is a playful spirit with a wonderful gift of gab, and a great story teller knowledgeable about Barcelona and her street art.  He delivered a fun and informative experience. Dominic who conducted the hands on how to create graffiti workshop is a gifted teacher, patient and instructive with a friendly spirit.  Both Mike and Domnic had such a warm sense of humor - something I look for in those I associate with!  

If you find yourself in Barcelona, take the BSST as a way to explore and learn more about street art and to wander the streets with the best.  For corporate planners - if you want an experience that gets your team outside of the office in a group exercise, consider working with BSST to design an experience.  The walking tour plus how-to workshop was a fantastic way to bring people together in a common experience, expand individual capacities to 'see' and provided an opportunity for people to explore their creative side..  


I am originally from San Diego, CA and have spent 15 years living between San Francisco and Barcelona, Spain. In 2002, I left San Diego to attend the University of San Francisco, where I studied fine art with an emphasis on painting. In 2009, I moved from San Francisco to Barcelona, Spain to further my investigation of contemporary art. I attended Metafora Escola d’Arte Contemporani and began to heavily expand my portfolio towards abstract graffiti doing large scale murals all over Spain, Austria and Germany. It was after my first year in Barcelona that I decided to remain in Spain taking on various artists’ assistant positions to some of Spain’s top street artist, and working alongside various platforms promoting street art and graffiti as social and educational initiatives. It was 2012 that Mike Frankos and I launched Barcelona Street Style Tour (BSST) offering an in-depth, up close and personal tour showcasing Barcelona contemporary youth culture with a large emphasis on street art and graffiti.
— Joachim Castaneda, BSST
I am 35 years of age, originally from California and I have been living in Barcelona for almost 5 years. I co-founded Barcelona Street Style Tour with Joachim Castaneda back in 2012 and have been guiding the bulk of the tours since then. Although I am not an artist, I have enjoyed and appreciated street art Graffiti since I was a child.
— Mike Frankos, BSST
I first entered into the world of graffiti in the early 2000’s mainly painting on the train line and focusing on making public property look much nicer. These early years, I think of as the refining years, and post this period, I moved into commissioned murals and pieces. I now find myself living in Barcelona, still painting, but not anywhere illegal anymore, in the comfort of a studio.
— Dominic Attard (aka Rate Oner), BSST


Barcelona Street Style Tour website.  Retrieved from   

Base Elements Urban Art Gallery website.  Retrieved from

Dominic Attard website.  Retrieved from

International Leadership Association website.  Retrieved from

Las Calles Hablan documentary.  Retrieved from

#Phoenix First Friday #Art Walk

I love our city!  Tonight's First Friday Art Walk reminds me why this is so!  First stop:  Monorchid Gallery   a wonderful display space located at 214 East Roosevelt, to visit exhibition aptly entitled:  TEN:  Modern Abstract. 

A departure from the realistic the artists focus on shape, form, color, and line creating compositions independent for traditional visual references.
— Nicole Royse

My primary purpose was to check out the latest 3D sculptures by Kevin Caron  but of course much more was to be seen.  Kevin is a metal and 3D printed resin sculptor - I offer a photo of Arabesque, a metal sculpture of his, as a comparison to the 3D work he presented at Monorchid.  He has a knack for capturing a beautiful line - there's a grace and flow in both the metal and 3D resin works that is elegant and graceful.  Early on my impressions were that he was representing a post modern/industrial I feel grace and peace - striking red and purple communicating strength and conviction.    He's a leader in the conversation surrounding 3D printing as art.     

Next, I met Dan Pederson, a Mesa, AZ, artist  who's eclectic style captivated my attention - it reminds me of really cool public urban walls plastered with street art, graffiti, pasteups, stencils, and stickers!  I love that feel!

Dan Pederson - Monorchid Gallery 11062015- photo with permission 

Dan Pederson - Monorchid Gallery 11062015- photo with permission 

As part of the Monorchid exhibit, there was in process body painting called Bare Landscapes featuring local artists creating abstracted versions of Arizona landscapes.  No photos allowed but I will say - it was incredible to watch a human body being transformed through the use of paint.  An artist that I particularly enjoyed watching was Brandon McGill.  

From here I explored galleries along Roosevelt Row, people watched, and just hung out.  Some street art I saw along the way:

I finished my time on Roosevelt Row visiting the container galleries - shipping containers converted into temporary gallery space.  First there was the exhibit by Takashi Hara

Takashi Hara exhibit, Roosevelt Row, 2015

Takashi Hara exhibit, Roosevelt Row, 2015

I finished with an exhibit entitled The Collapse featuring Jesse Armstrong, Jeff Reich, Patricia Sannit, Sheetal Shaw, and Jonah Amadeus Skurky-Thomas - ceramic artists engaging in themes of sustainability.  Curator = Cory J. Rogers, in collaboration with the Phoenix Institute of Contemporary Art.  Two favorites by Patricia Sannit and Jeff Reich.  

My Friday night in Phoenix - love the arts and having such incredible access!  


ArtLink (n.d.) First Friday Art Walk.  Retrieved from

Armstrong, Jesse website.  Retrieved from

Caron, Kevin website.  Retrieved from  Artist perspective on 3D printing:

Hara, Takashi website.  Retrieved from

McGill, Brandon website.  Retrieved from

Pederson, Dan.

Reich, Jeff website.  Retrieved from

Sannit, Patricia website.  Retrieved from

Shaw, Sheetal Website.  Retrieved from



A Sea of Red: Japan Pavilion Venezia Art Biennale 2015

Imagine yourself immersed in a sea of red.  This was my experience walking into the Japan Pavilion at the 56th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.  

This truly was a take your breath away moment...I felt my breathing slow and was mesmerized at the beauty of the Chiharu Shiota's described as:  

A space filled with red yarn. Attached to the end of each piece of yarn, suspended from the ceiling, [is] a key. In our daily lives, keys protect valuable things like our houses, assets, and personal safety. . . . By coming into contact with people’s warmth on a daily basis, the keys accumulate countless, multilayered memories that dwell within us. Then at a certain point we entrust the keys, packed with memories, to others who we trust to look after the things that are important to us. . . . two boats on the floor beneath the yarn and the hanging keys. . . . symbolize two hands catching a rain of memories (i.e., countless keys) pouring down from the ceiling. (Japan Pavilion, 2015)  

In her statement on youtube, Shiota (2015) spoke about keys carrying human stories and memories of events even noting how the shape of the key is like the shape of a human body.  "If you have a key in the hand, you have a chance."  I resonated with the interconnectedness represented by the installation.  In perhaps a silly thought, I smiled as I considered how we're all in the same boat.  Introspectively, I wondered how my thoughts, actions, and deeds promote interconnectedness or opportunity for those I encounter.   I want to be about fostering those spaces for others to realize those 'chances' represented by the keys.  This is the power of such an exquisite exhibit.   


Azzarello, N. (2015).  Chiharu Shiota weaves an immersive labyrinth of keys and yarn.  Design Boom.  Retrieved from

Japan Pavilion. (2015).  The Key In Hand.  Retrieved from

Japan Pavilion. (2015). Experience the installation.  Retrieved from

Shiota, C. (n.d.). Artist website.  Retrieved from 

Shiota, C. (2015).  Artist Interview.  Retrieved from