Street Artist BD White painted a few of his Astronauts on Bowery just south of East Second Street. This one is my favorite.
On one not-so-sunny Saturday afternoon back in February, I went for a long walk — an Urban Art Safari as I like to call them — on the Lower East Side. This happened a full month before any kind of lockdown thing was even a glimmer of an idea, which you can tell because there are cars and people in the photos
I didn’t realize at the time what a valuable resource the photos I took that day would become, as they now provide much-needed content for this blog. It’s not been easy to wander far from home in these past five or six weeks. Who’s even keeping track? Anyway, it must have been a very long time since I’d walked this particular route, because I discovered all kinds of cool street art that had in some cases been up for six months or longer. Time flies when you don’t know what you’re doing.
At the intersection of Chrystie and Broome there’s a building whose tenant is Tienley Enterprises, Inc., a company that offers the wholesale distribution of Asian groceries and related products. The eastern and southern-facing sides of this building are covered with colorful murals by renowned street artists Buff Monster, and John “Crash” Matos with BR163, respectively. Both murals were part of the Lisa Project in conjunction with the World Pride Mural Project and went up in the late summer of 2019.
I like this photo mostly for the surprised-looking guy taking on his phone while smoking a cigarette. I didn’t even notice him when I took the photo. Now, I feel he deserves to be so immortalized forever.
Here’s an almost identical shot without the guy. Tell me in the comments which one you like better.
You guys already know Mister Melty, right?
Here’s a rare — and very much appreciated — flash of blue sky!
Once we can travel freely again, I will perhaps return to the scene and take a few fresh snaps, because the mural is so detailed. If I could get one without any cars on the street, that would be super sweet.
Here’s a pretty nice shot of the Crash BR163 collaborative mural, which covers the Broome Street side of the building.
These Murals are Located at 125 Chrystie Street, Northwest Corner at Broome Street on the LES, NYC.
If you’re a NYC resident who likes to ‘get your steps in’ by exploring neighborhoods both new and familiar, here’s a Street Art Safari that you can participate in whether you live in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Queens! Back and Forth Disco is an exhibition of newly-commissioned photographs by Farah Al Qasimi (b. 1991 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) that celebrate individuality and the aesthetic choices that make spaces and surroundings uniquely personal.
The 17 photographs in this new body of work isolate and highlight the beauty of seemingly inconspicuous moments amidst New York City’s visual and audible noise. Presented on 100 bus shelters across the five boroughs, the larger than life photographs are inserted into the paths of New York City commuters at eye level. Works are sited in clusters in over 18 neighborhoods to give the public an opportunity to see multiple photographs within walking or bus route distance. The bus shelters — platforms traditionally used for advertising — bring together images of people, street scenes, interiors, and surfaces to explore the experience of being an individual in a hyper-stimulating city.
The artist has developed a photographic style that reads distinctly as her own, yet is continuously evolving. Over a month-long period in fall 2019, for the first time, Al Qasimi took New York City as her subject, primarily focusing on local communities where small businesses thrive. She has photographed neighborhood stores, barbershops, streets, and homes from Astoria, Queens to Chinatown, Manhattan to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Drawn to the idea of visual excess, rich textures, and brightly saturated colors—familiar to her from growing up in the Emirates — Al Qasimi captures vibrant instances of self-expression. The works highlight individual style and cultural traditions that break through the chaos and anonymity of the city.
Central to Bodega Chandelier is an elaborate crystal light fixture that dominates the ceiling of a Yemeni-owned bodega in Ridgewood, Queens, dwarfing the products on display. In Parked Car, garlands of artificial flowers from an Indian wedding decorate a polished gray car in Al Qasimi’s neighborhood.
Al Qasimi’s portraiture challenges traditional ideas associated with figuration by utilizing elements of camouflage, concealment, and revelation. Her process is both spontaneous and deliberate. She photographs friends and strangers alike, often returning to familiar places repeatedly or recreating moments she has seen in public space in more controlled environments. Her enigmatic portraits demonstrate her approach to the genre: the faces of her subjects are partially obstructed or altogether absent, while their vitality is instead accentuated through garments, hairstyles, and poses.
In Woman in Leopard Print, a single eye is revealed through a reflection in a compact mirror as the woman in a leopard-print headscarf studies herself. In Coco, a cockatoo who resides at a curtain store in Ridgewood, Queens is paid a visit by regulars in the neighborhood. A young boy looks at the bird but his eyes are hidden by his mother’s extended arm, allowing other features — such as the woman’s bright red nails — to become the focal point.
The photographs in Back and Forth Disco aim to draw out expressive details that spark recognition within communities. Acts of adornment, both to oneself and to the city, highlight the idiosyncrasies and beauty in environments that are often overlooked.
Back And Forth Disco Is On View Through May 17th, 2020. Visit This Link For a Map of All Locations.
Dollar Story (Flipside of Grace Beauty Salon), Ave C between E 5th St and E 6th St, Manhattan
It’s been months since we had a lovely, sunny weekend day in Manhattan where I wasn’t also otherwise occupied with a trade show or a museum visit, or some other plan that was going to keep me indoors all day. But this past weekend we enjoyed enough good outdoor weather to venture out on an Urban Art Safari, and that’s just what I did!
As I turned onto Broome Street, walking west near the corner of Forsyth, I spotted this fantastic, Bright Red Horse which towers up five stories of a six story mixed-use building. A bit of Googling revealed that the artist, Shai Dahan (whose name is clearly visible at the top right corner of the mural) painted the horse in October of 2019 as a gift to NYC, his former home. Dahan currently lives in Sweden.
This particular Red Horse is modeled after the Dala Horse of Sweden.
You can read more about the artist and this fantastic Red Horse in a Q&A with Brooklyn Street Art located at This Link.
The UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade) Theater’s East Village, NYC location may have closed this past February, but the colorful mural by local hotshot street artist Kenny Scharf lives on across its now permanently-shuttered security gate! See it for yourself on your next Urban Art Safari at 155 East 3rd Street between Avenues A and B.
On one of my recent Street Art Safaris, I found myself walking east on Eldridge Street, where I couldn’t help but notice more than a few stickers and small murals supporting anti-gun violence messages. And then I saw this one: another work by Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra, whose work is instantly recognizable for its kaleidoscopic mosaic of bright colors. Kobra’s Stop Guns is a multi-story artwork depicting a young boy posing for a selfie, with his phone held up in one hand and a pistol gripped in the other. Very sobering. Appropriately, the piece is located adjacent to a parking lot beside Cascades High School.
This Mural, Which Went Up on August 8th, 2018, is Located at the Corner of Stanton and Eldridge Streets on NYC’s Lower East Side.
This vibrant three-story mural was completed by artist Beau Stanton in August 2015 as part of the LoMan Arts Festival. If you’re thinking of adding it to your next Urban Art Safari, be advised that it stands on private property, in the courtyard of the Project Renewal Men’s Shelter, located at 30 East 3rd Street (between 2nd Ave and Bowery) in the East Village. You can try sneaking in if the gate is open (as we did), but their security guards don’t give a shit if you know the artist, just love the art or whatever. Just saying.