- May 26 & 27 - All libraries CLOSED for Memorial Day
Periodically we have to remind ourselves, as denizens of this part of the world, that we live in a region brimming with natural beauty. What better way is there to appreciate the natural world than to take a stroll through the majesty of our parks and open space preserves here in Northern California and, in fact, the Greater Bay Area in general.
For my money, springtime in the Bay Area is the best time of the year for hiking the variety of beautiful trails, regions, and biospheres that we're lucky to have access to on a regular basis 'round these here parts. The hills are verdant and green, the waterfalls and creeks are as full as they're gonna get, and wildflowers rule the grassy regions unlike any other time of the year. That being said, get yourself ready for those planned outings on your "must-do" list or the spontaneous opportunities that exist with a book like 101 Great Hikes of the San Francisco Bay Area. There are plenty of other books to guide you if you need help, but the important part is to just get out there and breathe the cool air of hiking freedom.
The question before us isn't whether graffiti is artistically valid, because, well, sure it is. One look at the contents of the book Bay Area Graffiti by photographer Steve Rotman should make that abundantly clear and, anyway, as Andy Warhol once quipped "It's art because I say it's art." That Andy was one hell of a quipster, but I digress. Where once Mr. Rotman favored nature and landscape photography, he eventually found himself drawn to the sheer visual appeal of urban graffiti and began documenting his finds in San Francisco and all over the Bay Area at a voracious pace. The result is a book which came out in 2009, but feels as fresh as tomorrow’s coffee. San Francisco, like other notable graffiti cities (NYC, London, Berlin, Sao Paulo) has no shortage of artists working in the shadows of the urban landscape and creating some prodigiously impressive displays of street art. This book showcases a portion of that talent and provides mini “statements” from some of the featured graffiti “bombers” that ultimately serve as confessionals for why they do what they do. A concise summary from one of the artists speaking to the essence of (his) graffiti: “It’s not always ego. It’s that you don’t care about that wall and I do.” Let the debate continue, but you know where I stand and I thank Steve Rotman for cataloging some of the ephemeral beauty of Bay Area graffiti.
PS: check out Mr. Rotman’s photo stream at www.flickr.com/photos/phunk