Here today, gone a week from Saturday

There’s a black wall on Rue Oberkampf in Paris. It’s called Le Mur — the wall. We arrived on Saturday when its transformation had begun. There was an artist known as Snake, a ladder, some cans of paint, a few folks watching.

He was already underway when we arrived for a street art tour. We’ve walked through street art in several cities now, which has turned disgust to curiosity and often unfolded beauty where there was blight: Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Lisbon. Now Paris. I don’t love it all, but I love the treasures and the insights that emerge.

11:00 am and underway

At 2:00 we came back for lunch…

At 4:00 we left, but Snake kept on. At 5:00 he finished, and a friend kindly sent a final photo.

Yes, those are words — on the chin is soldat, French for soldier. At 5:00 Snake finished by adding a tear. Final photos by Alison McAllister

The wall changes 24 times a year as street artists whose passion is to transform walls illegally paint legally for a day, in full view. Almost — anonymity is preserved.

The art won’t last. A week from Saturday another artist will arrive and paint it over. That’s the nature of painting in the street.

One day we will return to the truth of the spirit as revealed in the eyes or the voice. ~Joy Harjo, US poet laureate

One day we will return to the truth of the spirit as revealed in the eyes or the voice. ~Joy Harjo, US poet laureate