While I was out last week and caught the reflection of the lamp in a puddle, what had originally caught my eye was a fragment of a wall painting. One of the things I love is the fact that you’ll find a variety of fun and fascinating wall murals throughout the city on random walls. Sadly, this example of Utrecht muur kunst (wall art) on the Hekelsteeg, was only a few small, tantalizing fragments. I don’t know why more of the mural isn’t left, but the small fragments that are there are certainly curious and colorful. Sadly, I’m short on time, but I’ll keep looking to see if I can find a photo of what the full mural looked like once upon a time. If I do, I’ll share it. [Never mind. Found some photos!] In the meantime, here are the odd bits left that really get the imagination going. I particularly like the tiny bit on the far left that has been framed. That just adds to the oddity of it all.
I woke to horrible news yesterday. A neighborhood icon, Sheriff the cat, had died. Even more tragic, his death came as the result of some vile person kicking him. The animal ambulance came, but there was too much internal bleeding to save him. The psychopath who kicked him has been arrested.
It’s hard to imagine the neighborhood without Sheriff. Although he called Café Tilt home, he could be found wandering throughout the immediate neighborhood and among the many bars and terraces. A friendly cat, he seemed to take his name seriously, often walking with us as we returned home, as if making sure we made it safely. Once we were in our house, he would then continue his patrols, vigilant, but often with a friendly meow.
He is one of the stars of a wall mural just off Wittevrouwenstraat behind Café Tilt, along with other icons of Utrecht. The mural is a nice reminder, but it will never make up for losing the real Sheriff. The loss has been felt by many, with outpourings of horror and grief throughout social media. He was such a frequent sight that losing him really does feel like losing one of my own beloved cats. It’s hard to believe we’ll never see his battered ears and beautiful black and white whiskers again.
One of the many nice things about living in Utrecht is that when plywood walls go up during restoration or renovation of a property, they often become points of visual interest in their own right. Certainly, when some of the university buildings along the Drift were undergoing renovation last year, the decorations that went up made an eye-catching and fun graphic story.
This time, walls are going up in the area behind the new Vredenburg music palace, where the old Hoog Catharijne shopping center is going under massive renovations and reconstructions.
Edging the western side of the large square where the outdoor markets are held Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, this bit of urban art gets the kind of viewership numbers artists (and bloggers) dream about. After all, location, location, location!
Looking at each of the images and panels, there are some great characters and visuals to catch your imagination. One of the most famous is the red-hatted gnome on the far right. That’s Utrecht’s own KBTR (kabouter/gnome) who pops up in various spots around town for the past six or seven years. The rest of his out-of-this-world companions can be seen from right to left and represent a few other Utrecht symbols and institutions, such as the Nederland Film Festival and, of course, Nijntje. Any others you recognize?