May 29, 2012 - Posted by Erin in Spain, Travel

“Luce! Luce!” I shout, staring down at my feet while in Valencia’s Plaza del Ayuntamiento. My amiga Heather has already jetted across the street, looking back at me confused as I whip my camera out to snap shots of the ground.

“It’s Luce!” I say as I run to meet her, pointing out stickers scattered all along the marble sidewalks. Heather quickly catches on. After all, she’s no stranger to my over-the-top enthusiasm for Valencia street art.

Only about six months ago, I dragged her all over the city so that I could do research on its top artists for an article I wrote for Off Track Planet. In doing so, I became a semi-expert on spotting urban masterpieces in Spain’s third largest city, developing an eye for favorites like Hyuro, Julieta and of course Escif (whose art I even happened upon in the streets of San Francisco). Now, wandering around Valencia I feel like I’m on a secret scavenger hunt to find nuggets of genius street art expression hiding in the most unexpected places.

And on this most recent trip, I did just that, discovering a jackpot of work by the artist Luce. He breaks urban art molds by going rather untraditional; from stickers splashed across city sidewalks to wood installations pegged to exposed building beams.

He also takes an unconventional and, in my opinion, refreshing approach to tagging. Instead of lazily scrawled letters littering every imaginable town corner, he opts for a simple monochrome block font. Always strategically placed, his name just seems to fit in. The big bold script compliments its surroundings instead of tainting them.

After many return visits, Valencia has become a sort of playground for me, filled with more than just sunny terrazas, flower-boxed balconies, and paella-serving restaurants. The city breathes art, which evolves, changes and gets swapped out with new surprises as quickly as the seasons. I can’t wait to find out what I’ll discover on my next visit.

[travelist location=”Valencia, Spain” type=”img” url=””]

February 14, 2012 - Posted by Erin in Travel, Trips to the US

I’ve become uber-fascinated by street art lately. Nerd-level fascinated. So when I plugged in my old point-and-shoot camera the other day and discovered a jackpot of San Francisco street art photos that I had forgotten I’d taken, it felt like a colorful care package from home (minus the candy and other awesome things my mom usually sends).

I claim “nerd-level” status because I actually wrote an article on the subject for Off Track Planet about the Valencia scene (if you haven’t read my writing on OTP, well, brace yourselves for a slightly more uncensored Erin). In doing so, I headed out to Spain’s third largest city to hunt down work by top grafiteros. Accompanied by my partner in crime (AKA Sox, my best girlfriend, who lives in Valencia), we traversed sketchy neighborhoods, and angered prostitutes with my paparazzi-like graffiti photography tactics.

Escif, Valencia, street art

So, when I visited California over the holidays, I couldn’t avoid feeding my obsession. With a new set of eyes, I scoped out the urban artwork that SF had to offer. While most of the pictures below were taken in Clarion Alley in the Mission – San Francisco’s edgy, diverse and borderline hipster neighborhood – my favorite snuck up on me while cruising around Alamo Square.

Driving down Oak Street with my best buddy at the wheel (I apparently like to drag friends along on these excursions of mine), I saw the ladder-and-trunk mural. Doing a double-take, I demanded we stop, certain that it was painted by my favorite Spanish street artist. And sure enough, while inspecting the image, there it was – his signature, ESCIF, in bold capital letters. His murals grace walls in his hometown of Valencia, but also around the world, including this particular street in the City by the Bay.

If you don’t already get geeky over urban art, I hope these colorful images might inspire you to scope out street masterpieces in your hood. Full of messages, heart, and passion, they’re worth more than just a passing glance.

Jet Martinez

Escif, San Francisco