So there was an event called “Pow! Wow! DC!” and it basically was my wall crawl dreams come to life…

Pow! Wow! is an international street art movement where artists get together to host mural festivals and help make neighborhoods across the globe look beautiful. It’s a movement that’s already taken place in cities like Austin, Hong Kong and Honolulu, and now DC was added to that growing list!

Over the course of 10 days, local artists like No Kings Collective, Cory Oberndorfer and Decoy, along with international artists like INSA and caratoes, went to work making NoMa colorful by painting murals over abandoned buildings, bike trails, and even making the old Ibiza nightclub look good.

Pow! Wow! DC organizers NoMa BID and local artist Kelly Towles hosted a couple happy hour tours so people could catch the muralists in progress during the 10 days of their work, and luckily I was able to attend one with my boyfriend Cesar and some friends right before Memorial Weekend. At that point, the artists weren’t quite wrapped up, but I loved everything I saw so much that I ended up stopping by again after all the murals were finalized. Here are some photos from both times I visited:

For a full listing of Pow! Wow! DC artists, visit the Pow! Wow! blog,
or check out some cool videos and photos on Instagram.


A DC Wall Crawl

I’ve spent a lot of time scrolling through photos under Instagram hashtags like #StudioDIYwallcrawl, #ABMlovesmurals and #Ihavethisthingwithwalls and jealously wondering why DC can’t be on LA’s level with the patterned street art murals.

It turns out I’m wrong.

Over the last few months, I’ve attempted to hit up as many of the murals that we do have, and along the way I’m finding the District has its little pockets of color too. Just like New York, we’ve got a Jason Woodside polka-dotted mural, and also a mural by Australian artist James Reka at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro Terrace. We even have a church turned technicolor events venue, which is pretty cool if you ask me. Here is where to find them:

19th and N. Moore Streets (technically in Arlington, Va.)

3500 O St NW (behind the Saxbys Coffee) 

429 L’Enfant Plaza SW (the L’Enfant Plaza Metro Terrace)

1309 5th St NE (at Union Market DC)

66 Rhode Island Ave NE

635 North Carolina Ave SE (at the William H Rumsey Aquatic Center) 

19th Street NW (between Belmont Road and Mintwood Place in Adams Morgan) 

700 Delaware Ave SW (at Blind Whino)

Follow my street art adventures on Instagram, where I’m using the hashtag #DCWallCrawl.

Follow Your Heart ♥

If you’ve ever watched the documentary (mockumentary?) Exit Through the Gift Shop, you may remember Thierry Guetta, the clumsy Frenchman with a video camera permanently attached to his hand. After Guetta discovers his cousin is the street artist Invader, he finds himself following along to film Invader + friends putting art out on the streets, eventually meeting guys like Banksy and Shepard Fairey, and compiling his footage into what eventually became Exit Through the Gift Shop. But another thing you may have noticed is by the end of the film, Banksy wants Guetta out of the way so he encourages him to work on his own art, and from that encouragement, the artist “Mr. Brainwash” is born.

I remember watching Exit Through the Gift Shop when it was first released in 2010 and thinking, All of this is cool, but I’m never going to see any of that art here in DC. Yet here I am six years after the release, and the coolest thing has happened! To celebrate International Women’s Day, Mr. Brainwash created a series of murals at DC’s Union Market that highlight Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn movement. Each piece of the mural has some inspirational phrase on it like “Follow Your Heart” and “Love is the Answer,” which are all meant to push the White House’s efforts to support access to education for the 62 million adolescent girls around the world who are not in school.

I visited Union Market just a little over a week after the murals were put up. Someone already has splattered paint across some areas of the work, so if anyone out there is interested in seeing these, I’d go soon! To view images of the murals, use the hashtags #lifeisbeautiful, #62milliongirls and #letgirlslearn.

streetmeet dc

Here’s the thing about me when it comes to urban photography: I see a skyscraper and think, Oh, that’s pretty, and keep walking, yet photographers like 13thwitness see countless photo opps. They can wander through an abandoned hospital or alleyway and somehow make it look cool, even exciting. Skill wise, street photography is something I can admire, but it’s not necessarily my preference. 

For now, I find myself gravitating toward quirky, colorful and busy photos. But, with that being said, I also think you’ve gotta step outside your tastes a little. For me, that meant forgoing my usual flea market and vintage shop weekend shoots for a Sunday of rollin’ with some “urban explorers.” 

In DC, we have a couple different creative groups that gather for these city exploration ‘Instameet’ photoshoots, StreetMeetDC being one of them. A friend invited me out to Adams Morgan with StreetMeet and the pessimist in me tried her best to get out of it. I kept worrying about, “But I’m just starting out,” and,”Everyone’s gonna laugh at me if I use a lens wrong.” 

That ended up being far from the truth. So many people were willing to show one another techniques and offer themselves up as models. And even though I can’t exactly agree with trespassing on fire escapes and rooftops all for an aerial view like a lot of guys out there were doing, the experience wasn’t as daunting as I thought. I’m sure I’ll definitely hit up a local Instameet again, but maybe this next time with a group that’s more on my wavelength :)

streetmeet dc adams morgan

Austin Photo Diary

For the first time in my life, I was able to travel for work, which brought me down to the Lonestar State for a conference last week. On the final day of work, Cesar met up with my coworkers and I in San Antonio to check out the Alamo. We grabbed some tacos at the River Walk, and were quickly off to Austin to discover what makes the locals so “weird,” and to stay in the vintage 70s silver Airstream of my dreams.

It goes without saying that the best part of any vacation is always — ALWAYS — the part you weren’t able to capture via photograph. Grainy, dark photos wouldn’t do any justice in showing how much of a good time we had experiencing the night life, the food trucks and the art of the city. In this case, I’m talking about each and every bar we wandered past on E 6th Street that had live bands crankin’ out jams and the Robert Therrien exhibit currently at The Contemporary Austin. The frozen corpse of the Long Lost “Minnesota Iceman” at Museum of Weird also makes the list of items that didn’t make it onto my camera memory card. Some of my favorites in Austin:

Dancing/Live Music: One of the first places Cesar and I visited was the Billy Reid shop in Austin, where the folks there so graciously put together a list of must-see dive bars and vintage stores.The White Horse was described to Cesar and I as a “modern day honky-tonk,” so of course we had to check it out. On that note, if walking down the streets at night in Austin can make me feel like I’m attending multiple concerts in one day, than I’m down with that. Case in point: Gypsy’s Lounge.

Street Art: I loved the “You’re My Butter Half” mural on E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd & Alamo Street. It’s also sort of obligatory to get a photo in front of the “Greetings from Austin” mural at Roadhouse Relics. If you don’t have time to drive from location to location, a good bet for street art photos is the graffiti park Hope Outdoor Gallery.

Tex-Mex Food: My boyfriend and I had just been going through a rundown of our favorite restaurants in each of the cities we’ve visited when a sizzling plate of tacos alambre was placed in front of him at Licha’s Cantina. In the flowery verbiage of a food critic, he described his tacos as, “so flavorful it feels like a Fruit Gusher popping open in your mouth.” I can vouch. BEST. TACOS. I’VE. EVER. EATEN. OH. MY. GOODNESS.

Vintage Shopping: I’m not in the market for vintage human anatomy posters or antique jewelry, but I still had fun rummaging through the items at Uncommon Objects on South Congress. Also, lots of cute Justin boots and leather handbags up for grabs at New Bohemia.

I hate to act like an expert on a city I’ve only visited once, but a girl’s gotta give kudos where kudos are due.

the white horse austin texas
airbnb austin vintage airstream austin guide to dive bars and food trucksgraffiti park austin texas