Smoke ’em if you got ’em

headshop mural
Everyone knows about the “coffee shops” in the Netherlands (and yes, it’s not just Amsterdam), where you can purchase various forms of hash, weed, pot, marijuana, etc. Voorstraat/Wittevrouwenstraat have a couple of places where you can purchase, but there are also places in town where you can buy your own paraphernalia, AKA headshops.

Conveniently, perhaps, Magic Mind is a long-standing one at the corner of Voorstraat and Hardebollenstraat. Hardebollenstraat used to be the inner-city red-light district here in Utrecht, but no longer. It’s now a trendy shopping street with lots of great indie shops. More about that tomorrow.

With the new shop fronts on Hardebollenstraat comes a new wall mural. (OK, it’s been there for a few months at this point.) Philip Lindeman, a young graphic artist/illustrator is the artist of this latest wall art to enhance Utrecht. I really like his style and a copy of his book The Cover Art Catalog is on my wishlist. Give the mural a look-see the next time you’re in the neighborhood.
headshop mural

In Search of Art

Portrait of Amalia van Solms
The Centraal Museum has undergone some renovations and expansions recently and they’ll be officially unveiling them this coming Friday and over the weekend, as part of the National Museum Weekend. To raise awareness about the museum and it’s collection of Utrecht artists, they have put up murals of some of the museum’s collection on walls around the city. Today, I went in search of one.

Charlie and I headed out for a nice walk in sunny weather with deep blue skies overhead. I took a slightly different route than I usually do to end up at the Van Asch van Wijckskade. When I got to where I thought it was supposed to be, I was clearly in the wrong spot. There was a building with a painting on it, but it wasn’t the one I was thinking of. Slightly confused, I decided to keep walking. Turns out I had stopped a block too soon.
Portrait of Amalia van SolmsBut there she was, the Portrait of Amalia van Solms (1602-1675) by Gerard van Honthorst. With the trees starting to bloom and the glorious blue sky, she was in the perfect setting. Nor was I the only one admiring her. Another girl had approached just as we did and she walked up close to pause for a moment and admire Amalia.

There are two other murals to see, but they’ll have to wait for another outing. I do have two tickets for the museum’s grand opening on Friday. I would take Charlie, as he seemed quite interested, but I suspect he may not be so welcome. I guess I’ll just have to take G instead. Charlie is disappointed.
Portrait of Amalia van Solms

Charlie and the Black Cat

Charlie and the Cat
Charlie is a smart dog. Too smart sometimes. He can open doors with ease, give you a high five, jump through hoops, and much more. But he does have his less than brilliant moments. Such as today. We were walking around the northern part of town, following the ring canal when I stopped to take a photo of this little bit of black cat wall art. I’ve seen this cat pop up in various spots around town, so I thought I’d get a photo of it.

What you see in the photo is the exact moment that Charlie spotted the cat. He’d been looking elsewhere until then. Being a good boy, he didn’t move until I started to walk. At that point he zoomed over to the (fake) cat. Poor thing can’t be blamed, as he does live with two black cats. But it amused me that he was taken in by the shape. It also amused the three girls who were walking past at that moment and saw him go straight for the painted flat cat. I wasn’t the only one laughing. Bless his heart.

The Last of (Tour de France) 2015

Tour de France in Utrecht
The boom and bang of fireworks is pretty constant at this point. I heard the first one at 9:12 this morning. We’ve been out running last minute errands and stocking up on food and wine for tonight and tomorrow, including lots of krentebollen for dessert tonight and to ring in the new year. We also enjoyed a nice drink on one of the terraces at Neude, under the clear blue sky. Odd to have it warm enough on the last day of the year to enjoy sitting outside! We’re staying in tonight, but it’s should be a nice evening nonetheless. So far, Charlie doesn’t seem upset or anxious about the noise of the fireworks, which is a massive relief, particularly as I remember how traumatized poor Pippo was by it all.

I have one more set of Tour de France-related photos, so I thought I’d cram them into one last post for the year. In the photo above, you’ll see another bit of race-related wall art, with a hint of the Eiffel Tower spanning the Oudegracht. If I remember the race route correctly, the street this building is on is the point where the riders turned off of Biltstraat (the street in the background). We had hoped that the riders would go all the way down Biltstraat so that they would pass Vino Veritas and we could enjoy some of the action. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. At least, if they were going to steal our action, they left behind a nice bit of wall art.

It’s fun looking at some of the details of the painting. There are racers on the wharves along the canal and there’s even a yellow jersey rider being pulled out of the canal!
Tour de France in Utrecht
Tour de France in Utrecht
Have a safe and happy celebration tonight and Happy New Year to those who have already rung in 2016 and to all those still yet to celebrate! See you in 2016!

A Touch More Tour de France

Rietvelo
2015 was the year that the Tour de France came to Utrecht. We hosted the Grand Depart, the start of the race, and the city was decked out in yellow and other race-related colors for months leading up to and even after the race. Most of the decorations are gone, but a few still remain, particularly some of the wall art.

I had seen a print of the Rietvelo piece of artwork by Menno Anker, and I think I knew it was on a wall somewhere, but I hadn’t known where that wall was. I also wasn’t walking along a stretch of the stadsbuitengracht that I used to frequent fairly often. If I had, I would have seen it much sooner. In fact, soon after adopting Charlie and taking those walks along the ring canal once again, I soon spotted the Rietvelo piece, even from across the canal. I had no idea it was so close!
Rietvelo
Rietvelo
I always love when one of these large solid walls is turned into an art canvas. Some change, some remain the same. The Tour de France may be over, but I do hope this one stays up for a while. Of course, now that I’ve said that, it is probably coming down soon if not already!

Art That Was

Art that was
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.
Art that was
Art that was

Graffiti Tunnel in Utrecht … or Is It Berlin or New York

Graffititunnel WestpleinYesterday, in one of the distance photos of the mosque, you might have noticed a wall of graffiti in the foreground. That wall is actually part of a tunnel — a bike tunnel to be more specific — in the Westplein area. As I mentioned, that whole area is undergoing a lot of transformation and the tunnel is meant to be closed off as work on the Van Sijpesteijnkade moves forward.Graffititunnel WestpleinHowever, it seems that the GroenLinks political party (literally GreenLeft, to give you an idea) is arguing that the tunnel should remain in some form, specifically because of its graffiti. As councilman Pepijn Zwanenberg explained, “This tunnel is known for the graffiti made by Utrecht artists, including KBTR.It is a unique place in the city, where you feel like you are in Berlin or New York.”Graffititunnel WestpleinZwanenberg sees the tunnel as part of the cultural heritage of the neighborhood and doesn’t want it to be lost. Rather than have the tunnel closed off, he suggests turning it into a space for a temporary or permanent gallery, music or exhibition space. To find the best way of transforming the tunnel, GroenLinks is recommending the creation of a design contest to get people directly involved.Graffititunnel WestpleinGraffititunnel Westplein
Source: Graffititunnel Westplein behouden