Naturally, I was feeling homesick for England.

I even wrote about it in my other blog (read here).  I missed how funky and artsy the cities were.  Upon my first few weeks of living near Worcester, a small city in Massachusetts, I believed I would feel the absence of an urban artsy vibe.  But then, look again.  Would you believe it?  Worcester hosted an international mural festival, called Pow! Wow!

Pow
Marka 27

In England, my family and I visited a coastal city called Bristol which is the hometown to renowned street-artist Banksy.  We took a tour entitled, “From Blackbeard to Banksy,” led by local artist Duncan McKellar, and learned about, not only the city’s pirate mythologies, but also its street-art pieces, especially those which were part of Upfest.  Upfest is Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival and, like Pow! Wow!, it features licensed street art on buildings, alleyway walls, and even on the ground.

Bristol2
Art on chewing gum by Ben Wilson
Bristol3
“Clothed with the Sun” by EL MAC
Bristol4
Nick Walker

Just when I thought I left artsy-cool cities behind, Worcester also bared its brick walls to street artists.

Worcester3
Arlin
Worcester2
Sabek

While my mom and I were admiring Arlin’s piece on the Palladium, we ran into Nickie Robinson, a street-art journalist from Quebec who travels far and wide to research and write on street-art festivals.

She and my mom got to talking about New York City and about how so many of its neighborhoods have been fully gentrified.  Although, Nickie alluded to Worcester being on its way to following suit, it certainly isn’t like New York.

Worcester used to be an industrial city but now, the industries have declined and it’s become gritty, dangerous, and segregated.  At least that’s what people are telling me.  A guy I work with advised me against walking downtown by myself even during the day because of gang violence.  Driving through the city, I’ve passed abandoned buildings and closed storefronts, with homeless people lingering outside.

But Pow! Wow! is changing the setting and thus, the vibe.  As my mom and I join other members of the community in admiring the murals, we also notice the buildings, how they’re built with the old wine-colored brick that you can’t find anymore, what they used to be, what they’re used for now.

We notice the city.  Street-art festivals make you do that.  For Worcester, the tall, gleaming murals restore in it a sense of value.

 

Rachel Noelle is a writer based in Worcester.  Read about her here.

 

 

4 thoughts on “Bristol to Worcester

  1. Kudos for “noticing the city”! Gritty and industrial? Yes. But also filled with great restaraunts, great colleges, great people (many unpretentious), a decent art scene (Worcester Art Museum, Arts Worcester, Nine Dot, Pop-up Art, etc), and lots of good outdoor places and activities. Keep looking for beauty …. you will find it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, there’s really a lot to do here. And downtown is pretty safe during the day. Night time it’s a bit more iffy, but it’s not as bad as many like to say it is.

      The big problem in Worcester is the super-negativity people have about things. A million good things can happen and one “not so good”, and all people talk about (and remember) is the “not so good” thing.

      You’ll do fine here. Just keep an open mind as you explore.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s so interesting for you to say, Darryl! Reading Worcester Magazine familiarizes me with the good things but the news feed from local news sources only lists the negative things and that projects a very skewed perspective of the city. I shall continue keeping an open mind.

        Like

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