How my first ridesharing app led me to some kickass street art.
As you may know, I’m a total graffiti freak. Every city I visit I try to collect a few shots representing the community’s street art culture. Sometimes it’s just pure urban decay and colorful textures from well-worn factory facades. Other times, it’s an expression of wild imagination by largely unknown artists. In either case, once you start scoping it out, I swear, every city offers unexpected visual treats. And the off-beat art experience is free.
On a visit to “The” Ohio State University last week, I found myself in 8-degree weather with no gloves and only two hours to explore. I thought I would try Uber for the first time, and man, did I luck out.
My driver’s name was Bill Gannaway, and the first question I asked was, “How well do you know this city?” He’d lived there most of his life, but I needed know if he knew the back alleys and funky parts of town — not the shiny tourist attractions. I told him I knew this was a weird request, but if he was game, I’d like to find some radical art — and I would be thrilled if he could give me a tour of the most ratty, run-down sections of town.
Pay dirt. Bill not only knew the coolest painted walls in town, he pitched a drive-by to an old manufacturing plant that had seen better days, sporting a phenomenal green patina on its wood and metal shingles (Pic #6). Then, under the overpasses we noticed the work of an artist who just may be “a little obsessed” with the amorphic forms of jellyfish, and who’d covered decrepit cement walls with dripping spray paint forming the sea creatures’ tentacles. He’d grouped them in sets of 2, 3 and 4, in different hues (Pic #3 and Pic #10). Then, in an urban garden project in the middle of nowhere, we saw these raw color blocks in assorted sizes. (Pic #2)
Check out the photos from my 2-hour tour with Bill below. For me, the day was a total hit. And the cost? $32.50. Uber, you just might be the guy for me.
Footnote: This just might be the best PR Uber has received all week…. considering the managerial missteps reported in the news today. Despite the kerfuffle, Uber Bill remains my local hero.