Neighborhood Urban Art Walking Experience: Introduction
Jasper and I usually take the same route or same couple of routes when we do a normal neighborhood walk. The routes always go by one of the many neighborhood parks in San Jose, which offers a chance for Jasper the Puggle to do his business and for me to get rid of the business before we head out on the road again. We like to do 2 miles in about 45 minutes each day, with about 5 or so minutes spent at the park, just enough time for disposal and to refill on some water.
When we travel through these neighborhoods, we see a variety artistic collections displayed in windows, on electrical boxes, at the parks, or on the sides of local businesses. I love looking at the different artwork around the city, and was wondering how many different pieces are out there, in areas that Jasper and I haven't quite gotten around to. So, I decided to do some research and take a look at what the library says about walking, enjoying art, and planning routes. I also wanted to see how many other cities enjoyed art throughout their neighborhoods and their communities, and how much the art varied from place to place. I assume that nature, culture, and local public interest makes a difference in what is in each city and what each city has to offer the public.
Guide to Covering Territory
One of the most helpful books I found right off the bat is the book Walking Albuquerque. In this book, the author gives out route suggestions to make sure that the walker (in this case, in Albuquerque) can cover territory without overlapping too often and also in a way that allows for the walker to experience as much public art or interesting architecture as possible. Also included is how to navigate through the city by dividing it into quadrants. The book is also filled with other interesting things such as restaurants, museums, parks, shopping, educational areas, graveyards, and spiritual hubs.
I decided to take this advice and make my own planned route based on where I would like to start and what I would like to see, as well as taking into account how long I wanted each journey to take. I also wanted to incorporate a chance to visit a local park as often as possible, not necessarily visiting a different park each time, but perhaps exploring a different area close to a neighborhood park. So I decided to also divide the city into quadrants, hitting as many areas as possible to see as much of the already existing art, buildings, and parks that I can visit during each excursion.
As soon as I started working on this project I realized that this journey was going to take some time if I wanted to see as much San Jose art as possible. And if I wanted to share this with the community so that everyone had a chance to see a bit of their neighborhood, that it would take more than one blog. So, I welcome you to the first segment of the Neighborhood Urban Art Walking Experience, made by yours truly, with my dog in tow and my water, camera phone, and music in hand. Going about 2 miles for each walk, with a park to feature, and two to four activities at a time, I plan on seeing as much art as I can. I am not sure how many parts there will be to this series, but I do believe it will be a fun and interesting adventure around this city that we live in. Therefore, the blogs will feature two to four walks in where I photograph some of the art, interesting buildings, and parks that I come across as I make my way through the city. I will also include some information on a couple of books that I have browsed through that have interesting information pertaining to art, architecture, and urban design, as well as any other subjects that may be handy.
Books About Urban Art
A Closer Look
Street Art New York by Jamie Rojo and Steven P. Harrington
This book features a brilliant collection of photographs of some of the street art that has been featured throughout New York City. This book is great for readers who would like to see how street art can vary from artist to artist, what some of the more common themes are for street art, and the different types of media used. The pieces are thought-provoking, moving, inspiring, and sometimes confusing. After browsing the main images, you may also look at the list of artists and what URL has been provided for more information. I found this book to be a wonderfully made print collection of urban art available for those who may not be able to see the art on their own, especially as street art does not tend to last forever.
Street Art San Francisco Mission Muralismo edited by Annice Jacoby for Precita Eyes Muralists ; foreword by Carlos Santana
"San Francisco's legendary Mission District - a laboratory for cutting edge art and alternative culture - boasts a greater concentration of street art than any other neighborhood in the world."
Page after page of beautifully captured images found throughout the Mission District, this book breaks down how the art portrays culture from the perspective of the people who live there, showing pride, color, and strength as symbols of a strong heritage. Artists talk about how much the artwork, the process, and the community reception of the art has influenced and inspired them, as well as changed their lives as they developed their skill. The powerful and unfiltered message of street art resonates through every page of this book, with glimpses into the spirituality, political change and unrest, and social injustices that represent the community of the Mission District.
Graphic image "San Jose Street Art" created by Sheila Nofchissey