Valencia Street Art

Finding out the differences between graffiti and art. Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how different Spanish and other European cities are from the cities in the US.  While I don’t have much experience living in inner cities in the US, I have traveled around numerous European cities; while each city is unique, I find they are much more similar to each other than they are to cities in the US.  I think this is particularly evident in the older sections of large European cities like Valencia where the population density is much higher and the primary transportation is walking.  

My first reaction to street art in Valencia was to confuse it with graffiti. Street art and graffiti are two very different things here.  While some street art has been tagged or had graffiti added, street art takes talent and imagination and varies from advertisements, promotions, social causes, protest, or just whimsical art for art’s sake. Sometimes the street art is alone, but often it is in company with graffiti. The graffiti here varies from low or no-talent painting to tagging or plain vandalism.  

Street art

Valencia, Spain

Street art

Valencia, Spain

All the buildings here are multi-story, generally ranging from about 6 to 10 floors. The bottom floor is always commercial and the upper floors mostly residential, but sometimes mixed. The lower offices or stores are usually secured by steel doors that are rolled up for business hours and pulled down and locked to the threshold when the business closes.  These doors and the sides of buildings that abut vacant lots or plazas are the canvases for street artists.

Here are some picks of the street art I’ve found interesting: The top right one honors the local drink, Agua de Valencia made with orange juice (of course), Cava, the local bubbly wine, gin, and vodka. I haven’t tried it, but it looks like it would be tasty and strong.

Top right is the roll-down security door to my barber shop. My barber is from Sardinia, speaks Italian, Catalan (the Sardina dialect), and Spanish. He chats with me and other customers while I’m getting my hair cut, in Spanish and Italian. I pick up between 10-50 percent, depending on the topic and language.

Lower left is a diva singing in a paella pan in the sky (I don’t get it either, but I think it’s funny). Below the diva is the work of some less talented artists and graffiti.

Lower right is a painting honoring the local firefighters and police. Notice there is no graffiti. Possibly because of the respect the punks and taggers hold for the firefighters and cops or, maybe, because the building with the flags is the local fire and police station.

Here are a couple of links if you want to see more street art.

Best wishes and keep in touch,