(Above: Surf ad in Chichi.)

In addition to some great painted advertisements, I discovered a bit of graffiti in Chichicastenango, the market town about an hour from Antigua. I didn’t ask anyone for details about it, what it means, who the artists are, but I’d be interested to know more about local visual culture and artistic resistance, etc.

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“Ow! That’s my head!”

“Frankly, you natty bagel hipster, I don’t care. When your pate is made of sweet, sweet French-toast bagel, all bets are off.”

(Or, a short homage to The Bagel Store, 247 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn.)

I keep trying to “find” Long Island City, but unlike most NYC neighborhoods, it doesn’t suffice to just jump off at the nearest subway stop and roam. Or it does, but what you find is not what you expect to find. That is, instead of hipsters, I took in sights of gritty urbanity on a two-mile urban hike through LIC’s industrial stretch, from the Hunter’s Point 7 stop to the Socrates Sculpture Park, far down the vast stretch of Vernon Boulevard.

Which is not to say my meandering was entirely unenjoyable. In addition to documenting a lot of excellent graffiti, I happened upon the Taxi Depot, which, among other things, supplies olde tyme cabs (as in the picture above) to the film industry. If not for the van parked in front of it, the cab would have transported me back in time, I think.

I’ve seen some strange graffiti lately at my normal subway stop (V train represent!). It’s fairly juvenile, but it’s also somewhat disturbing, in what it may or may not expose about this community’s feelings about race, etc.

Above, a display ad for Sundance, with tagging in bold black hand that reads “Al Qaeda = a group of Muslims fooled into providing Bush, & those he works for, with an excuse to carry on the Prs [?].” Below, an ad for Bravo’s The Millionaire Matchmaker, tagged with “Uhm … let’s see … (1) Black guy, one-black girl … uhm … tough-one. Blacks together … (2) girls gay … everybody happy !!”

Interpretations? Juvenilia, or indication of some greater unrest?

In preparation for my trip, I’ve been poking around the Interwebs for information about street culture in Guatemala. I love the idea of public art, sanctioned or unsanctioned, and it appears that there’s an active graffiti community in the country. Mi Mundo offers a vivid glimpse of this, as well as interesting commentary to contextualize the images. Wire Tap also has a story and interview on HIJOS (Hijos e Hijas por la Identidad y la Justicia contra el Olvido y el Silencio (Sons and Daughters for Identity and Justice against Oblivion and Silence), the group responsible for the graffiti.

(For kicks, a Flickr set of public art in India.)