Ever since I saw the pictures pop up in arts magazines, I have wanted to see the “colorful stairs of Beirut” live. The stairs were originally painted by a collective of young artists called Dihzahyners as project called Paint Up Beirut (through the link you can see more photos of the painting process and their other projects in the city). The stairs were on my list of places I really wanted to see, but unfortunately we were a bit too late: All the paint was gone and the stairs were back to their original grey color!
UPDATE: Jubran Elias, the co-founder of Dihzahyners contacted me in the comments and apparently we were by the wrong stairs! I had a hunch this might have been the case, but since Beirut doesn’t really have exact street addresses, we just went by what people thought were the correct stairs. I’m actually happy to hear it was just us who were in the wrong place and the stairs still exist, in color! So ignore all my instructions and babbling :-), the correct information about the location of the stairs is in the comments section below. Here’s a link to their facebook page for information about paint up events and colorful inspiration from all over the world.
Beirut so needs more incentives like this. If they are ever doing painting when I’m there, count me in!
As a part of our artsy day, we also headed down to the Beirut Art Center. I first read about the center when it opened in 2009 in the New York Times, and wanted to visit ever since. Beirut has a vibrant theater, art and writers’ scene but unfortunately it seems to me as though for most Beirutis it’s a bit more underground than it deserves to be. A few years ago I was working for an arts festival here in Toronto and hosted a lovely bunch of young Arab authors, many of whom were from Beirut. Breaking social norms and questioning the status quo won’t necessarily earn you a golden hat in Lebanon although there are many who do it: Beirut is a city with strong roots in culture and art. Or perhaps it’s just the same as elsewhere in the world; people prefer to be entertained over being provoked. But art can not only provoke and entertain, it can also create beauty, and that’s why I thought the stairs were such a fabulous project: They colorful stairs were for everyone to see and enjoy, and brought visibility for the great things are being done in Beirut. It’s easy to just feel happy seeing all this color!
Beirut Art Center is a really nice space in a more industrial area of Beirut. This project too got a lot of publicity outside Lebanon, but hardly anyone I spoke about it in Lebanon knew about it! So, if you are ever in Beirut do go and support this place. They didn’t charge us anything for entry and it is a really nice space to go and experience. Just outside the center there was some nicely colored graffiti (if it says something offensive, I am sorry 🙂 I just like the colors!). Street art meets high art!And sorry about the odd layout of the text in this post: For some reason WordPress isn’t cooperating with me today!