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February 2017

Gotta Get to Melbourne

MelbourneThis from the New York Times - Melbourne is an epicenter of street art. Well worth a visit.

“Street art is different from graffiti,” one of my followers chided me on the Frugal Traveler Twitter account. Couldn’t something be both? Graffiti has traditionally meant a quick, illicit scrawl, while street art usually implies a more formal image of some kind. I had posted a photo of a brick wall on Greeves Street in the Fitzroy neighborhood of Melbourne that had been covered in a painted portrait of a dog staring manically into the street as looming purple and blue clouds gathered underneath. During my walks around Fitzroy, Collingwood and Richmond (where I had rented a cheap studio through Airbnb), it seemed as if nearly every square inch of available wall, fence or billboard had been claimed by paint or permanent marker.

On my long walks traversing the streets and alleys of Melbourne, it felt as if I was perusing gritty, informal art galleries. Some works were abstract, some skillfully done tributes to favorite cartoon characters, bands or movies. Better still, this seemingly endless stockpile of urban art was free and open to the public — ideal for my frugal budget. While experiencing that alongside the city’s excellent brick-and-mortar galleries, notable night life and A-plus food culture, I came to understand how Melbourne has gained a reputation as Australia’s cultural capital.

The sheer quantity of street art and graffiti on Melbourne’s thoroughfares was something I’d never seen, and it left me curious about the broader art scene. So I went from pondering the fierce dog mural on Greeves Street into the nearby Sutton Gallery, a cozy but excellent space that changes its exhibitions monthly. I took the opportunity to ask a gallery employee about the neighborhood. Was the practice of graffiti legal — or at least unofficially sanctioned — in Melbourne? It wasn’t, she said, then added that the police weren’t always strict about enforcing the law.

While many street artists operate illicitly, some Melbourne property owners have embraced street art and commissioned works. With larger, more detailed murals, there’s a good chance they were done with permission. After browsing the enjoyable Center for Contemporary Photography, or CCP, I asked a volunteer named Sarah for her thoughts. “It’s definitely a subculture that’s big here in the inner suburbs,” she said, mentioning that names like Nost and Pork — two prominent graffiti artists — were known throughout the city. (It’s worth noting that not everyone believes “artist” is the proper terminology, however; some prefer terms like “pest” and cite the high cost of cleaning vandalized buildings.)

From the CCP I meandered slowly through the streets of Fitzroy and Collingwood, past a tribute to the hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest; a large painting of Harambe, the gorilla that was killed at the Cincinnati Zoo; and the Keith Haring mural on Johnston Street. I doubled back and found myself on the appropriately named Exhibition Street, a brief stretch of alleyway that seemed to have been taken over by taggers and spray-painters who had left behind huge hummingbirds, cartoon skeletons, Disney characters and homages to James Bond movies. I stopped into Backwoods Gallery and spoke to the curator, Sean Carroll, who works with local street artists who exhibit in his gallery, about how Melbourne had become such a hot spot. “I’m not sure, it just sort of happened,” he said with amusement.



The Art of Spray Paint

Check out the newly released book on aerosol art, The Art of Spray Paint: Inspirations and Techniques from Masters of Aerosol

The Art of Spray Paint features CRASH, Logan Hicks, Conor Harrington, Joe Iurato, Nick Walker, Casey Gray, Tristan Eaton, Matt Eaton, Hueman, Ian Kuali’i, Elle, Tatiana Suarez,  PichiAvo, Remi Rough, Will Hutnick, Rubin415, Rebecca Paul, Zac Braun, Ele Pack, Dana Oldfather, BR163, and mural projects like Nuart, No Limit Boras, WALL\THERAPY, Wynwood Walls and The Underbelly Project- and is a damn good book!


Pixel Art - Combining Mosaics with Street Art

Pixel is an artist from Santiago, Chile, who started his design career when it was still hard to think that visual design will evolve towards technologies, as it prevails today.  Today, the use of technology is not only an obligation, but a responsibility, as it allows us to record our history and improve our design and artistic tools.

In Paris, he learned firsthand of the work of Space Invader who inspired him to research pixel and mosaic techniques. Subsequently, he studied the religious and decorative mosaics of Mesopotamia, Greece and Byzantium. He began to explore the use of the pixel to create simplified images that synthesized color and form to its limit. Now, he has reached a cohesion between photography, mosaic, and dominant technological tools to create his own signature technique.

At first, people think they are facing a painting. Approaching and touching, they realize they are in fact facing a mosaic. Then, they wonder if it was really hand made.  They also play with distance to appreciate the work in detail, take photos, and when the image is revealed perfect and detailed on the small screens of their smartphones, they fall for it!

The Best of Weird Florida

Just got back from Florida and look what I missed! Atlas Obscura lists all of the weird Florida sites. Gotta go back!

America's strange has sunk to the bottom and settled in these Floridian places.

Cities like Portland, Oakland, Austin and scores of other places urge their constituents to “keep the city weird.” In Florida there’s no need.  

Want to see a haunted doll on display? Florida. Vacation with the Amish? Florida. See a “city of live mermaids?” Florida, of course. Absurd crime, cryptids, theme parks, and a healthy dose of campy kitsch maintain the state’s title as the weirdest in the Union. 
Know of something unusual we’re missing in Florida? Add it to the Atlas!

Weeki Wachee 60th Anniversary, 2007.
Weeki Wachee, Florida

Weeki Wachee: City of Live Mermaids

Welcome to old Florida, where a 1940s mermaid show is still enchanting visitors.
The Manor
Kissimmee, Florida

Manor Professional Wrestling Dinner Theater

Would you like a sleeper hold with that?
Photo of Skunk Ape captured by Dave Shealy.
Ochopee, Florida

Skunk Ape Research Headquarters

In the depths of the Florida Everglades, one man has dedicated his life to studying the elusive Skunk Ape.
Some visiting Amish at a nearby beach, approximately 7 miles away from Pinecraft. Picture is of either Siesta Key, Lido Beach, or Longboat Key.
Sarasota, Florida


This Florida resort community is where the Amish come to have fun in the sun.
Opa-locka City Hall.
Opa-locka, Florida

Opa-locka City Hall

America's only city hall with minarets took architectural cues from Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.
Reef rocker shredding in the Yellow Submarine.
Big Pine Key, Florida

Underwater Music Festival

For deep-sea divers and music lovers, the Florida Keys' Underwater Music Festival provides the best of both worlds.
Nostalgia overdose
Captiva, Florida

The Bubble Room

This kitsch eatery is chock-a-block with bric-a-brac.
Gibsonton, Florida. (Creative Commons)
Gibsonton, Florida

Gibsonton, Florida

The snowbirds here are circus sideshow performers.
New Year's Eve 2011
Key West, Florida

Key West High Heel Shoe Drop

Leave it to Key West to drop a real-live drag queen instead of a ball to mark the arrival of the New Year.
The two-headed gator statue.
Tampa, Florida

Two-Headed Gator of Seminole Heights

"Bite or Smite" became the unlikely mascot of a Tampa suburb.
The Clearwater Virgin before she was beheaded
Clearwater, Florida

Clearwater Virgin Mary

This glass-stain Mary attracted thousands of pilgrims until her head was shattered by a vandal with a slingshot.
Haile Homestead
Gainesville, Florida

Historic Haile Homestead

Over 12,500 words are scrawled across each room of this historic plantation house and no one knows why.
Salvador Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida

Salvador Dalí Museum

Florida might be at its most surreal in this museum devoted to the famed Spanish artist.
Actors depicting Christ's crucifixion at the Holy Land Experience
Orlando, Florida

The Holy Land Experience

A mega theme park-wax museum mélange containing all things biblical.
Marco Island, Florida

Cape Romano Dome House

An abandoned vacation home spent a decade taking on legends. It's now taking on water.
Lake Helen, Florida


Town of spiritualists and mediums in Florida.
Key Biscayne, Florida

Neptune Memorial Reef

An underwater city for the dead.
Homestead, Florida

Ed Leedskalnin's Coral Castle

A mysterious castle built as a monument to lost love.
Splendid China, Orlando
Kissimmee, Florida

Splendid China

This $100 million theme park in Florida was been completely abandoned and is now mostly rubble.
Lake Wales, Florida

Spook Hill

Haunted Hill Supposedly Defies Gravity.
Enjoying the view at Jules'.
Key Largo, Florida

Underwater Hotel in Key Largo

Stay in a room with a view... of the bottom of the ocean.
The museum as viewed from the street.
Miami Beach, Florida

World Erotic Art Museum

12,000 sq. ft. museum tracing erotic art from antiquity to modern times.
Miami, Florida

Miami Circle

A perfect circle of twenty-four mysterious holes dates back to prehistoric time.
The old hanging tree, once outside, now built into the bar.
Key West, Florida

Captain Tony's Saloon

Florida's oldest bar was once a morgue, complete with a hanging tree and gravestones.
View of the Soutwest side of Monkey Island on Homosassa River.
Homosassa, Florida

Monkey Island of Homosassa

In Florida, these naughty monkeys live on their own mini-monkey Alcatraz.
view upwards from base of tree
Longwood, Florida

The Senator

3,500 year old tree was the second oldest in the United States, burned down by drug user who stated, "I can't believe I burned down a tree older than Jesus."
Koreshan State Park Yellow House
Estero, Florida

Koreshan State Historic Site

Former utopian colony based on the belief that the universe exists in a hollow sphere.
The "whale garage"
Monticello, Florida

Nautilus Foundation

The ruins of a creative scholar's fantastical unfinished sanctuary act as his massive gravestone.
9/11 Whale Sculptures
Tallahassee, Florida

9/11 Whale Sculptures

One man's grief over national tragedy has manifested in a pod of homemade whales on his front lawn.
The monument
Tampa, Florida

Gravity Research Foundation Monument

A tribute to a future time when gravity is conquered.
Futuro House Pensacola
Pensacola Beach, Florida

Pensacola Futuro House

Pensacola's UFO home has withstood many hurricanes—just as the experimental 1960s design intended.
The entrance to the park
Tampa, Florida

Parque Amigos de Jose Marti

A tiny, unassuming park in Tampa that belongs to the Republic of Cuba.
The Last Resort Bar.
Port Orange, Florida

The Last Resort Bar

Where serial killer Aileen Wuornos drank her last beer.
New Salem Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery, a/k/a the Airport cemetery
Tallahassee, Florida

Airport Cemetery

The Tallahassee Airport serves over half a million passengers a year and is home to some permanent residents too.
Wolf's Museum of Mystery
St. Augustine, Florida

Wolf's Museum of Mystery

This curio museum seems like the type of place you might find a mogwai or a monkey's paw.
Safety Harbor, Florida


This home is decked out like a psychedelic explosion of colors and bowling balls.
A high dynamic range (HDR) image of the building.
South Bay, Florida


One of many gator theme parks, abandoned in the sugar fields of South Florida.
The store front
Tampa, Florida

Dysfunctional Grace Art Co.

An oddities shop that dabbles in the deathly and beautiful.
The SL-3 Rocket before it was covered.
Homestead, Florida

Aerojet Dade Rocket Facility

When this test site was abandoned they didn't even bother taking their rocket with them.
The proud legacy of Don Juan Ponce de Leon.
St. Augustine, Florida

The Fountain of Youth

A tribute to Ponce de Leon's supposed quest for eternal youth.
Robert the Doll
Key West, Florida

Robert the Doll

This legendary "evil" doll has been haunting the citizens of Key West for over 100 years