…i loved this old fremont mural. only half of it still stands, thus the fact that it only reads, “frem.” it’s a perfect example of the decay or distressed look. it’s older, faded, and peeling in places. it exists in very rough shape, but it’s in that roughness and subject matter that i find it’s beauty.
the woman on the mural struck me as the type of woman that you might find depicted on an old lobby card for the bride of frankenstein or similar old horror movie. her eyes seem to show a little fear and/or desperation to me, as if she were tied to a train track or a monster was approaching.
it was fun to shoot her emotive eyes from different spots and varied angles. i chose this photo, even though the car was there, because it seemed to highlight the eyes the best.
there are a lot of murals in that area…stewart and fremont…and in my opinion, this is one of the best. there are a lot of older fixed up landmark hotels, like the el cortez and a lot of old boarded up dumps that the city allows to be covered in murals, graffiti, tags, posters, and stickers.
i remember the day very well. it was march 31, 2017. i had a lot on my mind, as i thought about all of the things that had taken place in the span of 365 days. i was thinking about where i had been on that day in 2016.
it started out as a good morning (the name of my post for that day). it was snowing big, floppy, wet flakes. tried to go for a walk, but was so out of breath and out of shape that i didn’t make it very far. i was a disappointment.
i drove around looking for the perfect place to stop and get out and walk…like i couldn’t do the year previously. i thought about the gift i had been given in the form of a diet and exercise program…and i was grateful.
i was grateful for the opportunity to have shared time with such a remarkable individual, who motivated me to want better for myself. i was driving down the strip looking and reminiscing to myself.
it was the day before that day, 366 days previously, that she took me driving through downtown gillette, wyoming. she pointed out the sights to me while i chose what to shoot. we passed the art’s center and there i saw graffiti.
she parked the car and i waddled around, stopping here and there to catch my breath. i tried my hardest to not call attention to myself, as to not be pitied or loathed. i shot the wonderful graffiti for several minutes.
then, i discovered a beautiful, majestic, strong octopus painted on the side of a dumpster. she later became the inspiration for molly the octopus. it was the bedtime story that i made up later that evening.
as i drove along the strip searching for graffiti to catch my eye, i decided to turn down a side street. as i turned, i caught my first glimpse of the vivid and intense piece. there it was grand and glorious…gleaming in the sun.
a barbershop and it’s larger and louder than life street art mural. “welcome to fabulous las vegas, nevada,” the words spoke volumes and left me absolutely no other choice for a cover. i didn’t even know what i would use, until i saw it.
the desert is a harsh and hostile environment filled with hard, sharp edges and pointy, piercing spikes.
it will harden you, if you let it. it will fry your skin to a thick, brown leather. it will age you quickly and brutally.
the desert will take everything that you have…your money, time, energy, kindness, compassion, and humanity.
it will leave you wondering and bewildered…searching…yearning…antsy…thirsting…uninspired and so alone.
the desert, this desert is the land of illusion, delusion, hallucination, smoke-in-mirrors, and mirage.
it leaves one always wondering…”was that real or was that a figment of my imagination?”
occassionally, the desert surprises you. she serves up some grand gesture, as if to make-up for being so hateful.
this mural was my breathtaking surprise one day. so, large and looming, but also fragile and delicate. beautiful!
as i was going through the photos to put into my book, i couldn’t decide between the two shots, so i included both.
i noticed that i had become really attached to this particular mural. it took me a long while, before it hit me.
there are three things in particular that make this piece special to me. it’s my favorite of all of my street art photos.
i am drawn to the colors and design. it’s kind of muted and washed-out. the placement on the hotel is interesting.
it’s right by a sign for prime rib…ironic. the hotel’s name is el cortez, which elicits good memories of san diego.
finally, the subject matter is so sweet, innocent, kind, and gentle. it’s juxtaposition with everything around is jarring, but it works well.
i guess there was one last thing. when i look at this piece, i see myself. i recognize myself as the robot or possibly my brain’s animatronic librarian. i feel the metallic posturing…the scanning for information gaze…and the lovable goofy, innocence that exists.
there is a bond between girl and robot. to me, it seems like the robot’s only concern is keeping a watch over the sleeping girl. the girl looks like she has been through a lot and just needs a safe place to rest. the robot is up to the task, with eyes wide open.
it’s an unlikely combination, but it works! and so, the robot watches over the girl with the beautiful, brown hair and there they are…for all the world to see…a gift from the vengeful desert.
…my new, coffee table photobook is now available here. it’s 72 full color pages of my photographs…of street art, murals, graffiti, tags, banners, posters, and stickers…taken during my photographic expeditions to the 18b…the las vegas art’s district.
so, onward i walked and walked. i saw a bit of graffiti that said, “seek.” and, i did as instructed. i sought whatever i could find, capture, and bring back with me as pixeler artifacts…documents of my day…my perfectly, glorious, art-filled, second-half of my day…my lucky, chartreuse boxers day.
i found murals that had, upon closer inspection, hidden treasures inside…bits of random writing, pieces of stickers, bits of fabric, and even something purported to be human blood, sacrificed for the work.
one of my random favorite pieces was, “je suis charlie,” a reaction to the hebdo massacre in paris. when he first caught my eye, i thought that the little guy was a field mouse, but upon closer inspection…he was actually a “bun.” “i am charlie,” for being such a tiny piece of an enormous wall, spoke to me from across the street and half a block over. the piece reminded me also, of my dear friend, that lives in paris. i thought that she might like the sentiment.
another of my random favorite pieces, of the same mural actually, was the one that i entitled, “tony the tiger or petunia the pussy.” i loved it, because it’s absolutely flat, completely lacking dimension. it’s coloring, however, caused quite a visual stir. there was no way to walk down the street and not see the piece, it demanded recognition…and, rightly so. one of my favorite elements of the feline, was it’s nails/claws…they were all random, pointy, straight lines, and i imagined a real feline having the same appendages and got a really, interesting, mental image.
i loved the memorial to, “smiling ryan.” “childhood cancer is the real boogie man.” i enjoyed the random panels with everyday people’s faces on them. they were fun and quirky, lightening up the heavier memorial subject matter. the “handmade heart,” was visually stunning and popped right out at me.
i saw two pieces that i didn’t care for personally, but still photographed. “there she is art,” a seemingly medusa-like head inside of a crystal ball, was one of the pieces. the other piece was right next to it, “weird floral thing.” in my opinion, the pieces just seemed to interrupt the nice flow, that the rest of the wall had to it.
as i made my way around the corner of the building, i looked down and nearly fell on my ass. i saw something out of the corner of my eye, it looked precious, and i didn’t want to crush it. once i re-established my balance and took a closer look…i was delighted to see a school of delicate, beautiful koi…swimming around and away from the sewer drains. they made my heart smile.
as i made my way along the back of the building, i was amazed by some parts of the huge mural that covered it. they were the elements that i shot close-ups of…”rattler,” “chief,” and “prey.” those pieces really popped out at me and captured my attention…especially, “chief,” on his horse, ready to charge.
okay, one of my very favorite pieces, was actually on the side of a dumpster. it was my very favorite president of all-time (i was five and i remember watching him resign the presidency…and, i sat on the floor, in front of our black and white television set, just bawling…my mom told me that i was inconsolable and just kept repeating, “…it’s so sad.” go figure.). the piece, “friendship and freedom forever,” really gave me a chuckle.
josephine skaught hairdressing had by far the coolest giant, neon, scissors sign, that i’ve ever seen. it was awesome!! i was thinking about how much i’d like to come back and see it at night. i took my shot and started to walk away, when something wonderfully sardonic caught my eye. a piece of 80’s, lyrical history adorned the top portion of the window in neon…a simple, memorable phrase, “hairdresser on fire.” it was enough to make, morrissey, himself smile. (i looked to see if they had a, “girlfriend in a coma,” sign, but i didn’t see one anywhere…).