Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Black and White (Street Art, Art for the Masses)

20 June 2016


1. Mural by Girl Mobb, Mission District, San Francisco, California; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

1. Mural by Girl Mobb, Mission District, San Francisco, California; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

2. Mural, Richmond, California; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

2. Mural, Richmond, California; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Let me know which you prefer. Click on image to enlarge, which takes you to another page. If you decide to leave a comment, please return to this page.


Art helps us view our life’s journey through the mirror of time; it acts as a reflection of the past, present and the unknown. Humans have always had a relationship with creativity. And the creative process is a profound link to the development of civilizations.

Urban art can be discovered in the most familiar and unfamiliar places. It is embedded in the popular culture, arising after art slid from museum walls and moved to the floor–inside and out. Then image makers found space on the outer walls of buildings, where blank canvases beckoned.

After visual art moved to the streets, the public’s response wavered, but today it continues to be a viable expressive platform. Still as the street art movement grows, it can be staggered by gentrification.

As city life blends the cultural, social and political, street art heals and provokes, revitalizes and soothes, connects and disconnects. Its additional dimension is a source of kinetic energy and vitality, and also a source of query about the place of visual art in everyday life.

Art collects time and distributes it. Each genre takes responsibility to add to the canon. Photography has documented city life since the nineteenth century, which makes the street photographer complicit (in a positive way) in the history of the urban landscape. Pedestrian life (events, the hustle and bustle of the sidewalks, performances…) offers a vast array of experiences and a rich bounty of treasures to discover and observe.

Graffiti and murals are the most prevalent forms of street art; each can be long-lasting or ephemeral or permanent. Their presence tells tales of the image maker’s view of society on a stage that brings art to the masses. They inspire and stir the viewer. Some artworks are front and center, while others play hide and seek.

Urban art’s popularity wavers. But as a genre in today’s contemporary art, it continues to be an agent of change for the artist and viewer. Each work either creates its own culture, or comments on it.

San Francisco is a prime cityscape for the artist who seeks outdoor canvases. Walls of alleyways and buildings are targets for street artists, and the muralists of this city are renowned for their skills and talents.

One of the difficulties and pleasures of studying murals in narrow area of alleyways is that their larger-than-life work is larger-than-life. It can be hard to sustain a perspective. BUT you do get to see the work up close, to see the personal vision of the individuals who create a visual dialogue with passengers and pedestrians.

In the Lens section are two examples of street murals. The first was found on my meanderings in the Mission District. In this section of San Francisco there are a few streets with alleyways that are noted for these giant cultural artifacts. The second image was seen driving through the Richmond area.

Street art provides a public forum for the examined and unexamined. The variety of subjects surprise, and that’s the joy and wonder of these artworks. This urban experience is a street event not to be missed.

Tip of the Week: There are several cities known for their street art. Examples include: New York City (United States), San Francisco (United States), Berlin (Germany), London (United Kingdom), Mexico City (Mexico), and Bristol (United Kingdom). One way to visit this genre is through books and film. When I discovered Cheryl Dunn’s documentary, “Everybody Street (2013),” on Netflix,  I wanted to share it with you. Director Dunn introduces the audience to 13 street photographers from New York City. The film runs an hour and 25 minutes. It records imagery of noted photographers such as Joel Meyerowitz, Mary Ellen Mark, Bruce Davidson, and Jamel Shabazz. It’s worth the perusal.

"Everybody Street," (2013) by Cheryl Dunn

“Everybody Street,” (2013) by Cheryl Dunn

View other entries for this week’s challenge:


As always I welcome comments about this post or any part of my blog. My photographs for the mobile photography challenge are taken with an iPhone 6.

****If you would like to buy a print of any of my photographs or have any questions, please view the Contact Information found on the masthead. Thank you.

If you’d like to join this Mobile Photography Challenge, please click here for details and history of the challenge. If you have any questions, please contact me. Below is a reminder of the monthly schedule with themes for upcoming challenges:

1st Monday: Nature.

2nd Monday: Macro.

3rd Monday: Black and White.

4th Monday Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Animals, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Objects, Panorama, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel).

5th Monday: Editing and Processing with Various Apps Using Themes from the Fourth Week.

This entry was posted in Black-and-White Photography, Design, Human Nature, Mobile Photography, Photography, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Black and White (Street Art, Art for the Masses)

  1. streetbiter says:

    Impressive shots, you have an eye for creative pictures.

  2. Great images, I really love how you integrate people and the street art. As for “Everybody Street”, yes, it’s a thoughtful documentary, isn’t it.

  3. I like both and I like that you chose black and white. But it is the first-with its sharp angle which plays off the sharp angles and fluid shapes of the street art and the perfectly vertical human which really caught my eye-

    • Meg, these huge murals are in alleyways, which present a rather fascinating up close and personal view. The experience would be so different if one could stand further back. Thanks.

  4. Lignum Draco says:

    Both shots work very well.

  5. I love street art. Very cool post. Thank you.

  6. Tina Schell says:

    I prefer the first Sally, as it offers a much more focused visual. Love street art, just shot some today. But there is definitely a wide range of talent from wonderful to awful!!

  7. RMW says:

    Prefer the cleaner (first) image as I immediately get what is going on. Second is too chaotic.

  8. Nato says:

    I think I prefer the first (vertical shot) because the art is so bold and front and center. The shadows on the second (horizontal shot) were distracting and yet mysterious. 🙂

  9. restlessjo says:

    I’m not fond of the chaotic style of graffiti (I must have an orderly mind, Sal- ha! 🙂 ) but that figure in the first really lends something to the shot and it’s a clear winner for me. Beautiful/ugly? 🙂 What I do love in this post are your wonderful turns of phrase- art sliding off the walls and collecting time to distribute. Thanks, Sally! A peaceful happy week to you.

    • Jo, street art has a political and social message, which draws me to it. Also the artist’s ability to render an idea in such larger-than-life size astounds. Maybe it’s an acquired taste. Happy walking in nature. Thanks so much.

  10. Prior-2001 says:

    Thanks for the Dunn documentary mention – 😉 and great post – have a nice week S!

  11. Su Leslie says:

    I love street art and I think you’ve told a story about this important genre really well. I like both your shots, but actually prefer the second because of the way the natural world in the form of the shadows juxtaposes against the constructed image.

  12. I love street art….terrific shots. The first one is my favorite. The juxtaposition of the person and the wall and the subject of the street art is excellent.

  13. pattimoed says:

    Great post, Sally. Grafitti is fascinating. I lived in NYC when Keith Haring burst into the art scene. His artistic “roots” in street art sparked the recognition that grafitti was in fact an art form. You’ll also love the Uniqlo clothing collection from Japan which features works by Haring, Basquiat, and Warhol. I bought 2 tee-shirts and I’m always on the lookout for more!

  14. thirdeyemom says:

    I love urban art and always seek it out when I am in a city. The more politically or culturally charged, the better. I saw some fascinating street art in Bolivia which is a rather repressive country and it surprised me that it was still there. Beautiful post as always Sally.

  15. badfish says:

    I like the first one…it’s clearer. The second has those shadows, which is kinda cool, too. I might prefer both in color, though

  16. I see that mural from Richmond every time I go to the Dr. A few weeks ago as we drove by I saw a photoshoot in front of the mural. A woman on a Ladder was photographing THE actual model for the big eyed woman in the mural. Unfortunately I had to hurry on to the Dr. appointment and couldn’t get a photo.
    Love the dappled light on the mural. that’s how it looks whizzing by in a car,

  17. Archita says:

    Beautiful, Sally.

  18. Sally, I like the first one for its clarity and perspective. I find the second intriguing because of the shadows and the people, all of which make it feel a bit dizzying but also give an interesting feel and made me look several times. Chicago has a rich street art scene as does Philadelphia, with books being written about both, although I haven’t taken the time yet to read them, even though I’ve had them from the library. Too many books, too little time. 🙂

    Have a wonderful week.


  19. Sue says:

    I like the way you have used monochrome, and succeeded in merging the passers by into the street art itself! I think I prefer the first one, but can’t really say why….

  20. Angeline M says:

    I really like the first photo/art better I think. The second piece is just so busy it’s hard for my eye to catch a focal point, so that’s the art, not your photo. I like the effective change to black and white in that first photo.
    I’ve just added that documentary to my Netflix que, thanks for that.

    • Let me know how you reacted to the video. I appreciate your thoughtful comment. Thanks.

      • Angeline M says:

        I just watched Everybody Street, and really found it fascinating hearing directly from the photographers showcased, and then to see them out on the street. I loved the street scenes and seeing the movement from whence the photos were born. No place like NYC! The word “gritty” kept coming to mind. Thanks again for telling us about this documentary.

      • Angeline, my pleasure, glad that you found it useful and maybe even inspirational.

  21. Allan G. Smorra says:

    I really like the effect of the shadows in the second photo. They are a nice addition—an extra layer of black—to the composition.

  22. Luanne says:

    #1: more focused and the difference between the forefront and the back. Such an interesting post!

  23. So cool! I love street art!

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