#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  https://goo.gl/i2WIyg

Osaka Prefecture, Japan.  Photo by Andy Smith, Attribution-Noncommerical-noDerivs 2.0 generic, no changes were made, non-commercial use Retrieved from https://goo.gl/i2WIyg

Hiroshima, Japan.  Photo by Andy Smith, Attribution-Noncommerical-noDerivs 2.0 generic, no changes were made, non-commercial useRetrieved from https://goo.gl/N0dt9b

Hiroshima, Japan.  Photo by Andy Smith, Attribution-Noncommerical-noDerivs 2.0 generic, no changes were made, non-commercial useRetrieved from https://goo.gl/N0dt9b

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

Other Resources

International Manhole Cover Museum - Italy  http://www.manholemuseum.it/  

Japanese tourism website highlighting manhole covers  http://www.japanvisitor.com/japanese-culture/manhole-covers  

Remo Camerota provides drainspotter's with an online blog resource

S. Morita's Photography:  Manhole Covers:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/28074232@N06/sets/72157612036691185/with/15246489286/  

Strategy, J. (2014).  The beauty of Japan’s artistic manhole covers.  Colossal.  Retrieved from http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/03/the-beauty-of-japans-artistic-manhole-covers/ 

Tata and Howard offers 25 unique manhole covers in the United States.  http://www.tataandhoward.com/2015/10/25-unique-manhole-covers-in-the-u-s/

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 https://goo.gl/QwOLXl

By Remo Camerota

#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
— http://www.eastsidegallery-berlin.de/data/eng/index-eng.htm

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 http://www.eastsidegallery-berlin.de/data/eng/index-eng.htm

Berlin's East Side Gallery on film.  Retrieved from http://www.dw.com/en/berlins-east-side-gallery-on-film/a-18175320

Berlin Wall Memorial.  Retrieved from http://www.berliner-mauer-gedenkstaette.de/en/

#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.
— http://www.avondale.org/index.aspx?NID=1151

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 https://redemmas.org/about

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 interactions....education 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 http://freeschool.redemmas.org/

Baltimore Mural Project.  Retrieved from http://www.promotionandarts.org/arts-council/baltimore-mural-program

Baltimore Open Walls Project.  Retrieved from http://openwallsbaltimore.com

Ernest Shaw article.  Retrieved from http://www.examiner.com/article/baltimore-artist-creates-images-to-uplift-communities

Gaia website.  Retrieved from http://www.gaiastreetart.com

Graffiti Alley Article Retrieved from https://hiddenbaltimore.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/baltimores-graffiti-alley/

Nether 410 website.  Retrieved from http://www.nether410.com

Overunder website.  Retrieved from http://eriktburke.com/

Pixel Pancho website.  Retrieved from https://www.behance.net/PIXELPANCHO

Red Emma's website.  Retrieved from https://redemmas.org/

Station North Arts & Entertainment District.  Retrieved from http://www.stationnorth.org

Vhils website.  Retrieved from http://www.alexandrefarto.com/

#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 http://www.artwhino.com/exhibitions-1/g40-art-summit-2015

Richmond Mural Project website.  Retrieved from http://www.artwhino.com/exhibitions-1/richmond-mural-project-2015

Richmond Mural Locations (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) Map.  Retrieved from https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=z4w_7Jx-pKNQ.kUA6MtBwKc-A&usp=sharing


#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  http://barcelonastreetstyletour.com   

Base Elements Urban Art Gallery website.  Retrieved from http://baseelements.net

Dominic Attard website.  Retrieved from  http://motiquedesigns.wix.com/streetart

International Leadership Association website.  Retrieved from  http://www.ila-net.org

Las Calles Hablan documentary.  Retrieved from  http://vimeo.com/60149775