Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Off-Centre


This off-centre temple in Kyoto, Japan seems like it’s rising up from the surrounding countryside, a splash of orange amongst all that green.

For more off-center, off-tilter pics, y’all be sure to visit Ailsa’s Travel Theme, y’hear?

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San Francisco Street Art #3: The Mission District

At 19th and Mission

It’s been a while since I posted anything about street art in San Francisco, or street art in general, for that matter … in fact, it was was back on June 19, 2013 when I posted San Francisco Street Art, Volume 1 and not again until January 31, 2014 when I put up a Volume 2. At the time I promised that there would be more to come quickly, and, well, there ya go … time slips on by.

Que Haria Zapata? on Clarion AlleyBut I’m a man of my word, and in this third edition of San Francisco Street Art the focus is on the the epicenter of the San Francisco street art scene, the Mission District, where street by street you will find the city’s most prolific examples of the genre. Whole alleys are lined with clever, colorful and often controversial works of art and it’s impossible not to wander the lively streets of the Mission and not see some form of  impressive street art. Some are obvious, encompassing the entire length of building sides, while others are small, cleverly placed in a bus enclave or on a door.

The beauty of Mission District street art, like the neighborhood itself, is that it’s always changing. While some murals are mainstays, others change from time to time as artists with something new to say paint over them. In fact, the mural in the gallery’s soccer-themed second shot (“On 19th St. at Mission”) is now the Para La Mission mural seen at the top of the page. So the watchful photographer is consistently rewarded by making repeated visits, as murals often morph into something completely different, seemingly overnight.

The Mission is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods with a deep, rich Latino population of  Central American and Mexican families that have been settling the neighborhood in big numbers since the 1950s. As such, the Mission boasts some of the best and most authentic taquerias, pupuserias, produce markets, and Salvadoran bakeries in the country. This deep proliferation of Latino cultures is also reflected in the area’s street art, and you’ll see Latino influences ranging from modern artists like Diego Rivera and Frieda Kahlo to the ancient Aztecs.

Tiger on Mission StreetSadly, the area faces the same gentrification that has swept across the entire city in the past few years, and old establishments are being forced out as the new tech boom has caused rents to skyrocket while a new population of cash-flushed techies drain the cultural color from yet another San Francisco neighborhood. Indeed, high-priced “artisan” coffee shops and Asian fusion restaurants are threatening to out-number the family-owned taquerias who have yet to be evicted by a greedy landlord. Because of that, high-tech gentrification has become a growing theme of the neighborhood’s street art, and I’ve included a few examples of that.

Still, like the cultural enclaves of most cities, the Mission takes great pride in its rich cultural heritage and diversified nature, and the fabric of what makes the Mission unique and special will always remain intact. If you’re planning on visiting San Francisco, put exploring the Mission near the top of your to-do list … it’s also a lot less touristy than other parts of the city. But if you’re into seeing the city’s best street art, put the Mission at the top of your list.

Check out more of the street art of the Mission District after the jump.

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Posted in Art, Photography, San Francisco, Stephen Kelly Photography, Street Art | Tagged , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Outdoor Menagerie: The “Fancy Animal Carnival” of Hung Yi

For my first art post in ten months, I’m taking it to the streets of San Francisco … to the Civic Center to be exact, for an outdoor exhibition of the fun and colorful sculptures of Taiwanese artist Hung Yi. One of Taiwan’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, Hung Yi is renowned for his quirky and whimsical sculptures of people and animals. His latest collection, entitled Fancy Animal Carnival, was on display for two weeks at the Joseph L. Alioto Performing Arts Piazza on the eastern front of San Francisco City Hall, and I was lucky to catch it on its final day.

Renowned Taiwanese Artist Hung Yi

Renowned Taiwanese artist Hung Yi

Described as a modern, Taiwanese twist on Aesop’s Fables, Fancy Animal Carnival consists of a menagerie of 19 large-scale animals constructed from baked enamel on steel plate. Each piece vividly captures his signature style of bold, bright colors, intricately detailed patterns and humorous and whimsical designs. His animated and personified interpretations of animals are based on symbols that, in Taiwan, are traditionally believed to be lucky.

He also decorates the modern sculptures with traditional Taiwanese patterns and texts that are believed to bring about good fortune. Beyond these cultural references and influences, I also detected a strong psychedelic hint of seventies pop artist Peter Max and the fantastical animation of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine film from 1968.

_ASC3078Interesting fun fact about Hung Yi: Born in 1970, Taichung, Taiwan, he was once an owner of nine restaurants. At the age of 30, he decided to live his life fully as an artist following attention for his work in 2002.

While up close and personal is the best way to experience the amazing intricacy of his work, in this case, photos will have to do. I’ve included different angles of the pieces, because the patterns and expressions often changes from side to side. Look closely, because in this case of Taiwanese artist Hung Yi, the devil is in the details.

Check out the gallery after the jump.
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Posted in Animals, Art, Photography, San Francisco, Stephen Kelly Creative, Stephen Kelly Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Forces of Nature

A Storm's A-Brewin'Things were looking pretty ominous when a fast-moving storm blew through my Twin Peaks ‘hood back in February. It may look the apocalyptic end of San Francisco, but it didn’t amount to much, and the brick-red color you see here only lasted a few seconds as the clouds shifted and the light dispersed, so I was lucky to get this cool pano taken with my iPhone. Still, a pretty impressive force of nature right in my own backyard!

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Ailsa’s Travel Theme Youngsters

Darling Harbour Merry-Go-Round,  Sydney

I’m pretty much a single, on-the-go urban kind of guy, so as of yet I do not have children, and I don’t often have cause to be in the company of children. That said, as I comb through my archives, I’m amazed at how kids have made for some great photographic subjects, all while being so darn cute. So, here’s a small collection of youngsters I’ve encountered in my travels. As you can see, whether in San Francisco, Sydney, Tokyo, or wherever … the kids are alright!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Motion


Amidst the chaos, confusion, and kinetic motion of the bumper cars at Sydney’s Luna Park, one smiling, happy face shines through.

Posted in Australia, Photography, Stephen Kelly Photography, Sydney, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge : Early Bird

Sunrise 1

Up here in Twin Peaks, San Francisco, we have some killer city views, and the early bird is always rewarded with something spectacular. The best part is that no two mornings are ever the same.

But why was this early bird up so early? Stay tuned …


Posted in Photography, San Francisco, Stephen Kelly Photography, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments