Do you see urban plants in this picture? What about graffiti?
My sharp-eyed sister Phoebe did. She observed some interesting sidewalk phenomena during a recent visit to our childhood home:
Baby tree of heaven on Mainzerstraße, Berlin-Friedrichshain.
A doubly illicit urban plant on the side of a clothing donation bin in Prenzlauer Berg.
Last fall, I was impressed by the multi-colored transformation of ivy on the side of a building above the Prospect Highway, which outdid the artistry of the graffiti underneath it. To my dismay, I recently discovered that the ivy has been cut back and entirely removed from the lower part of the wall, leaving a mass of dead leaves on dead branches still clinging to higher part of the wall, extending almost to the roof, out of reach.
During a visit to San Francisco last week, I was hanging out in the Mission with an old friend from college and we passed by this closed-down gas station ripe with weeds and graffiti. On the sidewalk in front of the lot was a Heidelberg press sitting shinily in the sun. My friend’s attention was caught by this amazing spectacle of machinery while I went and checked out the weeds.
10 November 2008, ca. 16:00
Engelbecken, Kreuzberg, Berlin
Freshly sprayed graffiti interacts (probably inadvertently) with the plants that had claimed the wall first. Red and gold leaves have been masked with black, but others have been memorialized in green: they blocked the new silver paint from hitting its target, leaving bits of the earlier green paint in perfectly leaf-shaped patterns. A welcome bit of subtlety and detail in a piece of painting that would otherwise be monotone and boring.