Posts Tagged ‘art’

Awake and Walk

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

My third day in Berlin I was flying solo the whole day and decided to just walk my heart out. So from early in the morning I awoke and set out on foot to walk Berlin, guided by some great recommendations from Maiya.

I began by walking from Kreuzberg where I was staying and wandering back to where I had the tour the previous day in Mitte. I passed many people commuting to work, sitting on park benches drinking at 9am, kids playing in parks, and lots of people of bikes. Everyone seemed to be in some great state of motion, going somewhere, talking with someone, and always moving.IMG_1985 IMG_1986

I went by Check Point Charlie again as I passed from old West to old East.IMG_1989

I even found a fun chocolate store that had massively impressive sculptures made entirely from chocolate including the Brandenburg Gate and several other famous Berlin monuments.IMG_1992

Also one of my favorite things about Berlin is the little street crossing sign guy called Ampelmännchen. They are the traditional and somewhat quirky street crossing signs that always make me smile every time I would see them.

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And what is Germany without a man selling pretzels from his bike?IMG_2015

I revisited Museum Island with hopes to go into the Pergamon Museum but after some confusion and a lot of time lost waiting, I gave up on the idea and continued on with my walking.IMG_2019 IMG_2033 IMG_2037

The area with all the Museums on the island is pretty impressive and quite fun to walk around.IMG_2046 After museum island I headed over towards the TV tower in central Mitte ad then continued on to an old market area.

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From there I wandered up the fun street called Rosenthaler Platz which was lined with adorable parks and shops.

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I took a break in a quirky little coffee shop to dodge the rain and sat in the window for quite some time just enjoying the peaceful atmosphere despite an incident with a dropped cup and a resulting scream from the man who dropped it that was possibly the most German shout I have ever heard. I got another chai latte, keeping with my new found love of Chai Lattes that Berlin has made me addicted to alongside a homemade blueberry scone.IMG_2097 IMG_2100

From there I made a long U-Bahn and S-Bahn trip over to the East Side Gallery where the most famous stretch of the Berlin Wall is, covered in art from contributing painters. It was a little odd honestly. This wall, such an intense piece of history carries such weight, but a majority of the art seemed somewhat foolish and more than a little crude with tourists scribbling their names on every inch they can find. Even the beautiful symbolic artwork was covered over with this ugly scriblles of marked territory that screamed disrespect behind my eyes. It made me sad. There is so much room on these walls for political voicing, room to air out the past and discuss matters of oppression, but in many you cannot see that in what the wall has become.

There really is a lot of beautiful art though, these are a few panels that are my favorites.IMG_2115 IMG_2117 IMG_2129 IMG_2132

This panel was by far my favorite, the intricate detail and the vivid colors interwoven in the black and white. Faces stand out around images if you step back and look at the bigger images, but the small images hold their own beauty and magnificence. IMG_2148 IMG_2155

The way color and the human image are lost but also displayed in this impressive piece really caught the eye and made you look closer to see what there really was to see. IMG_2159 IMG_2181

These couple panels with political statements where also some of my favorites and the thumbs up chained into place was a good example of a piece that held up to its symbolic potential. IMG_2202 IMG_2205

I took a quick break from the wall to hang my feet over the Spree and admire the bridge near by and watch the yellow U-Bahn snake across its upper terrace crossing from one side of Berlin to another as if there had never been a wall at all. IMG_2211

The inscription on one of the last panels of the wall did make me really happy though, despite having been graffitied over mostly by tourists that read

I painted over the wall of shame so freedom is ashamed no more. Inferno ruled too many years until the people chose the light. I put my faith in you Berlin, and give to you my colors bright.


After the wall I wandered into a nearby area that seems to be home of the alternative scene in Berlin. It was pretty interesting, I wandered past the wall, past the graffiti and along the U-Bahn tracks up into the new area I hadn’t seen before.IMG_2233IMG_2235

A gritty but intriguing place full of people with long colored hair gelled up into spikes, or any other sort of interesting look. I really enjoyed wandering through the rain up and down the streets taking in the local color, feeling the trendiness and alternative atmosphere of the area. IMG_2239

Then after my long day of walking I returned to meet Maiya and we decided to go to a rooftop bar above a huge shopping mall that had the most amazing view of the city and the setting sun. IMG_2250IMG_2259

Over the rooftops of Berlin, we sat in the little garden with benches looking out across Berlin. It was a pretty magical place despite the cold. IMG_2261IMG_2272IMG_2281

The flowers in the garden were really amazing to watch the colors of the setting sun play off of as the light slowly diminished.IMG_2285IMG_2288

Drinks in hand we watched the sun go down in a fantastic array of color. IMG_2297IMG_2300IMG_2308

It was such a fun place to explore and definitely one of my favorite things that I did in Berlin.IMG_2340IMG_2346


The way the fast moving clouds blurred over the lights of the city as Berlin became the center of night life that it is so well known for made for some beautiful photos. IMG_2347

The moon was out, shining bright and full above the garden and we left sadly because we never wanted to leave it had been such a magical place at such a magical time of day. It is things like this that make me so unbelievably thankful for being able to have this opportunity to sit on rooftops above Berlin, drinking beer with friends, and watching a city transition between day and night, one life to the next.


I travel to see cities come alive in a way that photographs or postcards cannot quite capture. There is such a beauty in the cities of the world, each is endlessly different and I cannot wait to see more.



Grit and Graffiti

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Rome is a city of layers, you never know what it is you will find as you find yourself negotiating between one level and another. There is the historic city center, the amazing monuments and the tourism layered with the periferia of the countryside and rural suburban outer layers of the city. But within those two there are thousands of different layers of being, each one given a home on some street, some intersecting grid of life within the confines of a city that is so full of surprises, both good and bad.

I have been trying to learn the many facets of a city with limitless faces. The only way I know to go about doing this is by talking with Roman natives and exploring the different neighborhoods or rione of Rome to see the many faces myself, eye to eye.

Today after my typical weekly market visit to Trionfale, a friend and I headed to a new rione I had never been to before, the San Lorenzo area that is the home of La Sapienza, the main university of Rome near the main train station in Rome, Termini.


The rain had gone, and the sun was warm on our backs as we ducked into the dark underground metro station that would take us to Termini where we would then adventure out into the San Lorenzo area. When we emerged into the light again in an entirely different section of Rome, it was truly disorienting. It has often felt that way for me when I take the metro places because you emerge from darkness into a totally new, unknown area with a sense of overwhelming mystery washing over you. Even though it is the same city, it doesn’t feel like it. Everything is so different and varies so greatly from one metro stop to another. The air, the people, the buildings, and everything there is to a rione, it is strange to suddenly emerge into a world unknown when you had just started to understand the world you were currently inhabiting. It is like having the earth pulled from beneath your feet and replaced with shifting sand that fills your shoes with the weight of mystery, that simultaneously weighs you down but spurs you forward to discover and unveil what the mystery attempts to hide.

Walking through what I could only describe as a Roman Chinatown, my friend Natalie showed me to the Acquario Romano, a strange building full of different works of art. But we didn’t come for the exhibits; we actually came for the bathroom. Yes, you heard me right, the bathroom. Underneath the building where the bathrooms for the building are, there is a tunnel that is used to get to the bathrooms, is itself a fantastic work of art. Today was actually the last day to look at it before the slate was painted over and wiped clean for the next artists to come and work their magic. The walls of the tunnel had been fully painted in the combined efforts of two fantastic artists with a contrasting style of almost childlike monsters and the grotesque realism of the other that made for a disturbing, but also deeply fascinating artistic experience.

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To try and get a feel of what San Lorenzo was like we just wandered around the streets of the city looking at street art, graffiti and trying to absorb the feel of a part of the city that was not the overly touristy yet fantastic historic city center of Rome. The art was fun, and great and it seemed like every single wall was covered in a variety of different graffiti tags and other works of street art. It gave San Lorenzo a gritty feeling that while beautiful was a strong reminder of the real nature of Rome as a city of turmoil, struggle, and real life not like the idealized and romanticized pictures of Rome that all the tour books and postcards paint.


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But it isn’t all political protest and turmoil, we also had a fantastic time at the old chocolate factory S.A.I.D and got some really amazing hot chocolate that was more like pudding than a drink. It truly is a place of contrasts; to turn a street corner away from graffiti to an adorable little chocolate factory with a cafe inside full of beautiful chocolates and drinks.It was an intriguing transitional experience to see these two things co-existing in one space. That is the epitome of Rome I think, the co-existing of extremes. It was this that we glimpsed in San Lorenzo.

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We stepped out of Termini into the real Rome. A Rome of gritty contrast, both beautiful and terrifying, eternally magnificent yet stricken with problems that run directly to the core of a city that was once the throne of almost the entire known world. Political slogans and words of grave protest splashed across every building, pictures of turmoil, hurt, and injustice screaming out of the cracks in the walls like the voice of the Roman people crying to be heard. The real Rome.


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It is a strange thing to study abroad because you are neither a tourist nor a local and everyone can somehow see this. You try to fit in as a local, but you are treated as a tourist, which in many respects you still are even though you try very hard not to be. We are temporary residents, which often means we as study abroad students only have time, or only want to make time, to recognize the monumental beauty of a place by seeing the “Top 101 Things To Do in _________” instead of taking the time to get to know the city as it really is, turmoil, gritty truth and all. It is probably the most frustrating part of studying abroad, being neither native nor naïve tourist, while not being able to access the comforts of either. There is no security of a native, that is the comfort of the known and familiarity, while also being denied the peaceful naivety of a tourist who can come and go in a few days with only seeing the highlights, the best and greatest and nothing more or less. As a study abroad student, we have access to neither, but still we strive and try as hard as we can to fit in as a local even though I think it may very well be stamped across my forehead that I am an Americana and I don’t belong or don’t understand. It is a complicated and multifaceted experience to study abroad that serves to open the eyes of students like myself to that very fact, that life everywhere is complicated and more than just a few amazing monuments, or more than just history, it is a living, breathing work of art, intricately woven together. The complex intertwining of the multifaceted aspects of a city are never easy to comprehend, all we can do is try to understand instead of putting on blinders to the pain, misfortune, and struggle of those around us. Four months is not enough time to understand the political rifts or impoverished struggle of the everyday person. Nor is it enough time to comprehend the vast beauty that a place like Rome has to offer. Four months is not enough time for anything to be honest, but all I can do is try to see what it is the Roman’s see. What I saw in San Lorenzo was just one of the many layers of Rome that is the beginning of Rome revealed, the Rome that the locals know and the tourists try to ignore. I am beginning to understand the complexity of the living breathing Rome as the creature that it really is, one layer of its being at a time.



Sundays in the City: The Mission District

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Every Sunday I go into the city of San Francisco to go to my home church, Reality SF. Located on the border of the Mission and Castro District, my church is central to some pretty cool things in the heart of San Francisco. Because I go weekly into San Francisco, I have decided to explore this giant city that is right across the bridge from Berkeley, yet seems a world away at the same time. Thus Sundays in the City is born as an effort of exploration and discovery outside of my Berkeley bubble.

For my very first Sunday in the City I decided to go on a Mural Walk in the Mission District. I had heard about an alley way called Balmy Alley that was supposed to be full of dazzling murals. However I made a few stops before heading deep into the heart of the Mission District. I visited Taqueria La Cumbre, a taqueria featured on the Food Network Show, Man vs Food for a carne asada burrito. Nothing special there, pretty standard. And of course the next thing on my mind was coffee, coffee, coffee. I soon learned that the original Philz, my all time favorite coffee shop, was only a mile and a half away from my church, so I decided it would be the next leg of my journey.

Located on 24th and Folsom, right near Balmy Alley, my final destination, I found the original Philz!


This quirky coffee shop never fails to make my heart happy, and this one in particular was full of eccentricities. Every inch of wall painted in muralistic fashion from ballerinas to trees, floor to ceiling was covered in great paintings. I stopped inside for a break from walking and some studying. I was even luck enough to get a free Mocha Tesora due to a mix up in orders.


After reading some Hemingway, I returned to the task at hand and departed to begin my exploration of the mission district. Wandering from bookstore to record store, Latino grocery stands, and all sorts of other interesting shops I kept an eye out for murals.

Then I found Balmy Alley, an expanse of street that was tiny but entirely covered in beautifully vibrant murals. Ranging from political and social protests in art to silly children’s murals, every inch of wall was covered in the vivid paint of these creative minds. This was my favorite view of the alleyway with the bold proclamation of REJOICE! watching from overhead. Between the dazzling murals and the flowers framing them, it was quite a sight to see.


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I wandered up and down the alley way several times just absorbing the color and the passion behind the brush strokes of each mural. It was astounding to see these works of art all of the place. It wasn’t just in the alley way either, it was all over the Mission District. Tucked away down quiet streets, bounding across the tall buildings’ walls, or on old decrepit wooden fences, they were everywhere.

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I had a lot of fun taking in all of the art but eventually I made the trek back to the bart station and sat exhausted but fulfilled the entire way back home to Berkeley. I found there is a grand difference between going to a place and getting to know it. I have been to San Francisco so many times but never truly dug down deep into the city to learn its outline like I am starting to now. Even though I encountered a couple of creepy, scary things (people being rude and creepy to me, a girl alone, wandering some of the sketchy streets of San Francisco unwittingly), it was still a great adventure and I wouldn’t change a thing.

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I love nothing more than exploring and discovering new things and after my first Sunday in the City I really am just hungry for new and more journeys out into San Francisco. There is so much to be seen, appreciated, and enjoyed that I cannot wait to return again and reclaim the pieces of my heart that I left scattered in the mysterious street corners of San Francisco. This last mural really spoke true to my heart and I cannot wait to go again.



Israel: Mountains and Mysticism

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

In the early morning aftermath of our New Year’s Eve Party, everyone slowly emerged, none too happily at that. All of us with little sleep and bleary eyes. It was a hard time to be waking up at 6:30am when you didn’t go to bed until around 2am that morning. Regardless, we struggled out of bed and greeted the first day of the New Year with half-tempered smiles and curious minds for the day ahead.

We took the bus through Tiberias and wove our way up a mountain called Mt. Arbel.

The view from the top of this mountain was magnfiicent, though a little hazy, but still many things could be seen. The Sea of Galilee far below, our hotel in the distance, tiny towns speckling the hills, and lots of greenery. The wind blasting at our backs led us down to the way we would be following that would eventually take us to the ruins of an old fortress built into the mountainside.The descent was much more difficult than I had imagined and it felt like we were going down forever. We had to scramble down rocky cliff faces and at all times could see the countryside around us backed by the Sea of Galilee.

Eventually we made it though and came to a leveling out in our descent down Mt. Arbel where the cliffs now towered over us. Looking up at the cliffs you could see the ruins of what once had been windows, rooms, and a fortress in days long gone by.

Then we climbed up uneven stone stairs to enter into the old fortress that was crumbling but still grand. After going into the cliff dwellings, we descended the rest of the mountain. We all walked down the mountain in great contemplation, deciding not to talk with anyone, we all descended in utter silence except for the loud noise from the town below and the sound of the wind rushing past the mountainside. We went down the entire mountain until we reach the cities that just about an hour or so before hand had seemed tiny and extremely distant. It seemed remarkably to have come that far, to look back up at the whole mountain knowing I had been at the top of it. It felt like so much had been accomplished; and it was only 10am.

Next on our trip was the legendary cit of Tzfat, home to Jewish mysticism of Kabbalah. We wove through the streets of this old city, only stopping briefly before an old British Embassy building hat was riddled with bullet holes. It was in moments like this that Israel really did seem like an entirely different world. A world where it was casual to sit in the shade of a war torn building as if it was a wide shaded oak that we took a brief rest under in the bright afternoon.

Everywhere there are little moments where a single thing, a teapot, a doorway, or a bullet torn building that made this experience feel so surreal.

Tzfat is a city of alley ways, closed doors, and art. All fo the small corridors that people bustle down are lined with tables of jewelry, art, and all kinds of artisan creations. Every other doorway houses a gallery of beautiful art that often harkens back to Jewish mysticism.

After a long day of exploring the city streets of Tzfat, jumping between art galleries and trying out unique foods, we wandered through the market areas that tingled with the ideas of Jewish mysticism. After exploring a bit we found our way to the top of the mountain Tzfat is built upon. We stood in a park that held the ruins of an old citadel, long left to waste away under the pressure of time. It was here we learned about a Jewish idea, Tikkun Olam- repairing the world. Tikkun Olam is the idea that we all have a responsibility to try and fix the world we live in to make it a better place; whether that means doing community service, teaching, or any other form of helping the world, we have a responsibility  We came to this place to take part in our responsibility in trying to restore this old citadel by trying to re-establish this place as a park for the people of Tzfat.

As the sun set over Tzfat we all got together and learned a couple of songs on the mandolin and learned what it felt like to belong in a Jewish community. It really was an amazing moment; bathed in shades of pink and yellow, we all felt like a family.

It was a long day, started early, hiked, worked, explored, but it was a truly a great day.


Earth Works

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

On a field trip with the other IB art students at my school we went on an adventure to Pebble Beach near Pigeon Point Lighthouse to do some earth work artwork. It was a lot of fun, some people did works inspired by the wonderful Andy Goldsworthy, and others just had a lot of fun being creative by using only things found on the beach.

My favorite piece was my friend Hailey’s earthwork which she made out of snail shells she found on the beach. It reminded me of Andy Goldsworthy a lot and was beautiful.

A couple of friends worked with me to make a zen balancing rock garden in a tide pool on the beach. It was a lot of fun and I worked on making archway rock pilings which were a little difficult but fun to do.

It was only part of the field trip but it was my favorite. There is something so rewarding about creating art and having fun doing it. Working with a group of friends and taking only what the earth provides to make artwork that is creative and fun to do. Most of all, it is just so much fun enjoying nature with some of your best friends.


Begonia Festival Part 1

Monday, September 6th, 2010

This was the first year I got to attend the Capitola Begonia Festival.

This first part consisted of the Sand Castle Contest. Some of them were quite interesting.

My favorites where the giant great white sand castle, and the giant sand sculpture of Poseidon and the BP oil spill.

This one was definitely the best, it had a message about the BP Oil Spill and of course the quality of the sculpture was amazing. The eyes and teeth made out of shells where so amazing and life-like. The seaweed oil spill was an interesting and unique touch as well. It was the last one on the beach and looking out over the whole crowd was quite a spectacle.

It was interesting looking at all of the people. It was a mob of beach goers all looking and appreciating the work of these sand artists.

I am glad I went, Part two will be coming up next.


Valri Peyser: Open Studios

Friday, June 18th, 2010

My aunt Valri Peyser is an amazing artist and she is going to be a part of this next up in-coming Open Studios in October. I got to photograph some of her most recent projects she is working on that will be a part of the open studios show like these amazing decorated wine bottles.

The bottles are really amazing, each with its own personality and flare that is unique in itself. The front portrays a person ranging from a head shot to a half body portrait and the back is a beautiful pattern like flowers, stripes, dots, swirls, or any other design you can think of.

Her beautiful wine bottles won’t be the only art on display, her paintings will also be there for Open Studios.

Bright, colorful, fun, and artfully crafted, I can’t wait to see what else she will have come the date of the Open Studios in October.

To contact my aunt about her work, see her website: So come check out her open studio this year, you may even see me 😀

Anyone with questions about purchasing or methods of doing similar art can contact the artist Valri Peyser at her email: email hidden; JavaScript is required

Please be respectful with this personal information, I am sure she would love to answer any questions that you all may have but remember not to abuse this information with spam.

Santa Cruz

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

I love living in Santa Cruz, the people, the culture, the lifestyles. Everything about Santa Cruz is different. I love it because I enjoy people, I don’t have to go far to find a character, someone interesting to talk to, people who have lived life and want to share. There is so much potential here and that is what I love. Art lingers beneath the surface of everything. This is home.

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Art Show: My pieces

Sunday, March 7th, 2010


Art Show

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

This was my first year taking part in the Scotts Valley High School Art Show as an art student. I had three pieces in the show, my cigarette made out of matches and Marlboro Light packs, and the two pieces from my pencil shavings series. The whole week before hand I was just a nervous wreak and I am glad it is over. During it’s course I remembered why I do art or anything creative that I share with the public.

I was explaining my pieces to a group of people at the art show and when they walked away left over was a little girl standing there. I asked her if she wanted to hear my explanation and she said she already had, then she just walked forward and hugged me. I had never met this person before in my life but here she was hugging me. When she let go I asked what it was for and she just said

It was for sharing with me something beautiful

That meant so much to me, not just to hear someone compliment my work but to understand that the meaning behind my pieces were understood. All I ever wanted from my art is to share with people a perspective that they are not used to seeing like I also do here on my blog. This little girl is why I do art, I do this so I can help people see the ordinary things of everyday life in an entirely new and beautiful way.

I don’t care what people think about my work, whether they say it is weird, ugly or just nonsensical. All that matters is that I can share something with people. I just wanted to say thank you to that little girl. I wish I had asked your name, but you helped me. I hope I really did help you too.