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Artbits© Photo: Claus Schmidt / Artist: Okuda

Street art discoveries from Mexico, Canada and the US

Street Art Blog

About #artbits

In this photo collection, colleagues from the Goethe Institutes in Montreal, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York City, Toronto and Washington, D.C. took photos of street art in their respective cities. We have sorted our discoveries into thematic series. In the beginning, we started the blog with a series of our favourite pieces, followed by works by German artists in our cities. In the course of time, however, new ideas were added, which are presented here in loose succession. Apart from city specials and current topics, #artbits also contains relevant articles on artists that we found particularly interesting.

Participate by taking photos of street art in your hometown and sharing them under the hashtag #artbits.

The best art is on the street.

Maurizio Cattelan


Liquid, flowing, cold, warm, volatile, almost always hard to grasp, valuable but cheap(free in Montreal), sometimes too little or way too much, clean for cleaning or terribly dirty, leaded chlorinated salted distilled evaporated and therefore or nevertheless predestined to get its own series in our Artbits blog: Water. The mystical element that everyone likes but only appreciates when it's missing. Stories about water can be fun, funny, tragic or informative - and so our little series about the liquid element has become just as diverse - with contributions from Canada, Germany, Mexico and the USA.

Shaping the Past

Black Lives Matter Zaun Black Lives Matter Fence in Washington's Foggy Bottom | © Various artists, Photo: Mike Macguire

...from an Artbits perspective

The project Shaping the Past of the Goethe-Institut is about ways of dealing with the past: What are the social effects when monuments and memorials are charged with history? Is it possible to reshape the current culture of remembrance with alternative and innovative approaches? But there are also modern monuments, as this year's Black Lives Matter fence in Washington, D.C. was able to impressively demonstrate: an ephemeral monument of the present. And the Artbits team found two more great examples of a shaped past, presented below.

Nicandro Puente’s mural is intended to commemorate the victims of the disaster. © Goethe-Institut Mexiko/Showcase

Mexico City
“Tlatelolco 1985 : Sismo y resurrección” by Nicandro Puente

A mural in Mexico City’s Nonoalco-Tlatelolco neighborhood that commemorates the victims of the 1985 earthquake is at risk of being destroyed. A brief look back at this emblematic site and its crumbling facades.

"Tourist-In-Chief" auf dem Union Square in New York City. Image: © Leon Reid IV 2011. Photo: Luna Park

Union Square, New York City
“Tourist-in-Chief” by Leon Reid IV

On October 1, 2011 artist Leon Reid IV installed a temporary public art work, “Tourist-In-Chief”, in New York City’s Union Square. 


FAILE Dreams © FAILE, Photo: Lord Jim

fail(e) better with artbits

While the pun alone would be reason enough, it is their method of appropriating, deconstructing and recombining familiar images into a collage of mythmaking puzzles and idiosyncratic friends that tethers the artist collective FAILE to the (intended or unintended) breakdown of processes that we are also investigating in our FEHLER magazine.

As Seen On TV

Television - This parallel world, both hated and loved, has shaped the last century, bringing joy and sorrow, stupification and enlightenment, suspense and relaxation to the masses. It has turned ordinary people into larger-than-life heroes and shrunk important personalities into patsies. Very real history was reinterpreted and utopian futures were dreamed of. Their protagonists are better known than some world leaders and are part of public conversation like neighbors or colleagues. 

The suspicion that the reality you serve up is not what it claims to be will grow.

Theodor W. Adorno

To them we dedicate our series about people you only know from television, although they are very real. One exception is Cleo from the Mexican film Roma, but she too is a reality. The others - Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Vance and John Oliver - are television versions of themselves, which makes their depiction in street art all the more appealing.

Protest street art

#artbits Special: Mexico City

Seher One Teaser © Daniel Espinoza Cisne

The street art scene in Mexico City is booming!

So it’s high time that we took a detailed look at the many different facets of the scene. It would be impossible to summarize the city’s large – and constantly growing – street art scene in a single article, so we have selected eight outstanding artists to introduce you to in this #artbits feature.

Snapshot: Las Vegas

Las Vegas Mural: Hunter S. Thompson by Ruben Sanchez © Claus Schmidt / Artist: Ruben Sanchez

Off the strip

The famous Las Vegas Strip with its glittering casinos and magnificent hotels is the image everyone has of “Sin City”, but there is also Las Vegas off the strip with a vibrant independent cultural scene and a surprising multitude of amazing street art. We're taking a gander, bet you like it! 

Silent Heroes

Hera © Goethe-Institut Mexiko

Silent Heroes

Street artist Jasmin Siddiqui / Hera from Frankfurt am Main and the Mexican artists HeraGraff, Tomer Linaje and Óscar Axo had more time than expected in Mexico City due to canceled festivals and events on their trip through Central America to Mexico. Time enough to pay homage to "silent heroes".

¡Somos berlíneses!

The old post office site in the Berlin district of Spandau has - at least temporarily - become a place of the arts. This was made possible by the fact that the site was given over to associations such as "Neuen Urbanen Welten" (New Urban Worlds), whose activities on the site were aimed at reviving Spandau's cultural scene and bringing together creative people of all kinds. The abandoned and derelict premises of the Alte Post were used, among other things, as a shooting location for music videos and as a venue for events, and the old parcel hall on the premises was rebaptized “Urban Art Hall”, a space dedicated to Street Art. Mostly local, but also international artists were to present themselves here legally and in a creative, exchange-oriented environment. And that's what some of Mexico's best street art artists have done, and this series showcases some of the best pieces. In October 2019, New Urban Worlds came to an end, with the creation of offices, condominiums and other commercial spaces. But the story contionues: The Neue Urbane Welten is already looking for new premises!

Pretty Ugly

Our treat, no trick

For the Halloween season, our #artbits go “Pretty Ugly.” Looking for the unsightly within the familiar we found some nice and notably nasty artbits. Our treat, no trick.

Queer As Artsy Folk

Street art is everywhere and speaks to everyone. It is full or void of color, loud or calm, gaudy or subtle and sometimes more queer than straight. Our series Queer as Artsy Folk is about queer street art - by queer artists with attitude, mission and goal. Whether Homo Riot confronts the public with their homophobia or Hugo Gyrl sends the militantly encouraging You Go Girl through the continents - queer street art has many exciting facets. A few of them we show here.

Snapshot: San Francisco

"Self Consuming Self" by BiP, on Larkin Street between Ellis & Eddy in San Francisco © BiP / Photo: Sophoan Sorn

Golden Gateway

Through the years, San Francisco has been a golden gateway for artists, thinkers and writers to express what is on their minds. Next to Los Angeles and Chicago, it is one of the top US cities for murals, with over 1,000 works that have turned alleys and building façades into open-air galleries. This #artbits Snapshot flaunts some of the work there.


Jessica Sabogal “White Supremacy is Killing Me” © Jessica Sabogal, Photo: Jessica Sabogal

“White Supremacy Is Killing Me” by Jessica Sabogal

The Montreal article is a guest contribution by the Canadian blogger Jody Freeman. And Jessica Sabogal herself also contributed a photo of her work.

Words as art

#artbits Special: Montreal

Montreal from spring to autumn, that means festival season: for the past 5 years, solidly embedded between the Experimental Dance and Theater Festival Transamériques and the Montreal International Jazz Festival there is the international street art festival MURAL. Its visibility makes the festival one of the major events of the year - it takes place on the boulevard St-Laurent, the so-called “Main”, one of the principle arteries of the city, the demarcation line between its eastern and western part and even without a festival one of the most dynamic streets of the metropolis. The organism MU (“Transformer Montréal en Musée à ciel ouvert” - Montreal becomes an open-air museum) also contributes to the city's diversity of exciting street art. In our Montreal city special, we present some of the works that have been produced over the last few years at the MURAL festival or with the support of MU.

#artbits Special: Washington, D.C.

In Space


Well-known Faces

German Artists

Street Art Favorites

Insta-artbits of the week


Aim Pé © Aim Pé Marie-Pierre Poulin has been the director of the library for the Goethe-Institut Montreal since 2011. She developed an interest for street art in 2014, and has been on the hunt for art on the streets ever since. Her other interests include foodism, languages, travel, and bunnies. Follow her on Instagram @aim_pe 
Katherine “Luna Park” Lorimer © Luna Park Katherine Lorimer is a Brooklyn-based graffiti and street art enthusiast, photographer, curator, librarian, and author of Katherine “Luna Park” Lorimer © Luna Park (Un)Sanctioned: The Art on New York Streets. She's worked as the librarian at the Goethe-Institut New York since 2002. Since 2005, she has spent her free time exploring New York City in search of art in unexpected locations. A co-founder and regular contributor to The Street Spot blog, she is passionate about documenting urban artforms and supportive of all creative endeavors to redefine public space. Her photographs have been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago and have appeared in leading street art books and magazines. She has presented her observations at the Brooklyn Museum and the New York Public Library, guest lectured for the History of Street Art & Graffiti course at Long Island University, and contributed commentary for the HBO documentary Banksy Does New York. Follow her on Instagram: @lunapark
Lord Jim © Lord Jim Stefan Kloo, also known as Lord Jim, is an art-dork, book thief, and collector who figures that someone needs to keep an eye on things. He's been documenting street art for well over a decade now and can't shake the feeling that there might just be something to it.
Originally from Germany, Lord Jim lives with his wife and sons in Los Angeles where he also does the most damage.
His photos and musings on street art have been published in numerous books and articles. ( Most notably Stay Up - Los Angeles Street Art with author Jim Deichendt / Shepard Fairey Inc. by Jim Deichendt / Banksy - You are an acceptable level of threat by Carpet Bombing Culture, etc.) His sizable Street Art photo collections can be found on his Flickr pages. Lord Jim thinks that Banksy smells like soup.
Nesa Fröhlich © Nesa Fröhlich Nesa has been director of the library at the Goethe-Institut Mexico since August 2017. Having just arrived in Mexico City, street art discovery tours have been a great opportunity to get to know the city from another side. She also likes to look at art in museums.
Mike Maguire © Josh Mike Maguire is a Washington, DC photographer and writer. His photos have appeared in The Washington City Paper, The Baltimore Sun, USA Today, and Thrasher Magazine. A native of the DC area, he loves photographing the city's nightlife and street art. He cowrote the 2012 feature film Ultrasonic about a fictional DC rock musician and is the author of the sci-fi novel Three Days Breathing and the wordplay book Drawn Inward and Other Poems. Follow Mike on Instagram @mike.j.maguire or his webpage mmaguirephoto.com
Peter Schweppe © Peter Schweppe Pete is an Assistant Professor of German Studies & History at Montana State University. Over the years, he has called Toronto, Montreal, and Minneapolis home. In addition to photography, he likes visual culture and the great outdoors. Follow him on Instagram or Twitter @p_schweppe.
Lucia Romero Lucia Romero (detail) | © Lucia Romero She likes mangas and animes from the 80s and 90s and dark music and metal. Lucía is always exploring her hometown in Mexico in search of the unusual in ordinary places. She likes to take photos of everyday life in the city and finds them all the more interesting if street art is also present in the pictures. Instagram @littledemonlucy
Sophoan Sorn © Sophoan Sorn NorCal-based Sophoan Sorn was born in a refugee camp on the border of Cambodia and Thailand in 1985. He is a curator and organizer of contemporary international film festivals, now in his 10th season as Director of the Berlin & Beyond Film Festival, an annual program of the Goethe-Institut San Francisco.

Through the years, he has worked as a portrait photographer, documentary filmmaker, and graphic designer. He watches hundreds of films each year and has attended major festivals such as the Berlinale, Cannes, and Sundance. He is also Director of the San Joaquin International Film Festival, which he founded in 2008. An avid traveler, he has been to 60 countries around the world.