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Facebook User, Acción Ortográfica
Facebook User, Acción Ortográfica

The Graffiti Grammarians Correcting Street Art in Ecuador

Facebook User, Acción Ortográfica
Facebook User, Acción Ortográfica

Graffiti artists in Quito, Ecuador better bone up on their spelling and grammar, lest a group of vigilante street-art editors take a can of red spray paint to their tags. Since November 2014, Acción Ortográfica Quito has been patrolling the streets for graffiti in need of a little copy editing.

Their name references Acción Poetica, a movement that began in Monterrey, Mexico in 1966 and whose members have been graffiting love poems and quotes about friendship and optimism across Latin America for decades. The intentions of Acción Poetica are noble, but their grammar isn't always up to snuff—which is why Acción Ortográfica frequently targets their graffiti for correction.

The group is comprised of three men in their 30s, one of whom is primarily responsible for running their active social media accounts while the other two correct grammar mistakes out on the streets. Although they describe what they do as trying "to take a vandalistic act and put some order in what’s anarchic by nature," that doesn't mean they're legally in the clear. To avoid run-ins with the police, Acción Ortográfica works at night. First, they drive around scouting error-riddled graffiti, then the two active members grab a beer while they discuss edits. Afterwards, they return to carry out the corrections.

In an anonymous conversation with COLORS Magazine, they defended their efforts, saying, "it’s a public service and a moral obligation. We’re against spelling vandalism and we won’t break nor give up until we see a society free of spelling mistakes."

Si en tus besos encontrara la escencia de vida, sería no besarte el peor pecado que cometería.#HéroesAnónimos

Posted by Acción Ortográfica on Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Their edits range from simple first letter capitalization to a full-sentence overhaul. Their first job contained 13 errors in just two lines of text.

"There’s a big difference in saying: ‘No quiero verte’ (I don’t want to see you) and ‘No, quiero verte’ (No, I want to see you)," one of the members said. "Many times, someone does not realize how a comma or an oversight can completely change the meaning of a sentence. It can change your life."

Recently, they've taken their copy editors' eye to Twitter, where they've corrected spelling and grammar mistakes in tweets by Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa—although they stipulate that their concern is strictly linguistic, not political.

Their plans for the future involve spreading beyond Quito and launching a hotline where passersby can leave tips about graffiti in need of a little editing.

"We recently received a complaint about a nice graffiti that talks about how unbelievable a mom’s love is. We think it’s important that the message get through."

[h/t COLORS Magazine]

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Art
5 Things You Might Not Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—who was born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs. But there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.

1. AN EARTHQUAKE LED TO HIS DISTINCTIVE NOSE.

Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.

2. HE ALMOST BECAME A PIANIST.

Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.

3. HE HELPED CREATE A NATIONAL PARK.

If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.

4. HE WELCOMED COMMERCIAL ASSIGNMENTS.

While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams's mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.

5. HE AND GEORGIA O'KEEFFE WERE FRIENDS.

Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

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Dan Bell
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Design
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.

[h/t Kottke.org]

All images by Dan Bell

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