Category Archives: art

Investigating LES Street Art

A couple of weekends ago, on a very cold, but sunny, Saturday morning, I joined Brooklyn Brainery‘s LES street art tour with Saddle Shoe Tours. It was really more of a Lower East Side/East Village/Bowery exploration, as we curved a little above Houston before going south. Although I’m in this area almost every day for work and definitely keep an eye out for strange street art, I’d never known who the artists were, or some of the awesome hidden-yet-visible vibrant works of art. Below are some highlights:

One of the first discoveries was this little space invader, which I’d somehow never spotted myself. Although I do keep a wandering eye for them on my travels. Invader, the street artist who creates and installs the little mosaic grids, is originally from France, but you can find them all around the world. This one in Paris is still my favorite.

Roa paints giant versions of animals in black and white, which are often sleeping or in a state of peace. (Here is a tumblr that lets you see much of Roa’s work.) A rat seems appropriate for just about any section of NYC, as rats are our most prolific mammal wildlife, but you can also see other Roa in other corners of the city, including a squirrel, rabbit, and bird.

The wall at Houston and Bowery has seen a rotation of mural art, including recent works by Kenny Scharf (my photo), Shepard Fairey, and JR. The current piece by Faile used to have a cool prayer wheel component, but it had been stolen by the time of this tour. In 2010, I visited the arcade that the Brooklyn-based Faile collaborated on with Bast. It was kind of a trip.

This pink machine gun was installed by TMNK (which stands for The Man Nobody Knows). This was pretty securely bolted down to the wall, but I walked by this week and saw it had been removed. Even the most industrial of street art is ephemeral.

There were quite a few works by Shepard Fairey (you know him), mostly in the form of stickers. I liked this dove that was soaring up on a tenement.

This building at the corner of Bowery and Spring is absolutely covered in street art (including the above). You might think with all the tags and blocked out windows that the building was abandoned. Alas, it’s worse than that. One family owns it and lives in the massive building like a mansion.

Here are some more photos from the building at Bowery and Spring:

A paste-up collage.

The sinister remains of a paste-up of the Steeplechase Man.

And here’s one last photo from Bowery and Spring: some charming mosaic hummingbirds.

The ASVP posters are created by a collective of graphic designers, except without clients they are able to create whatever crazy future cop riding a koi fish thing they want.

I forget the name of the artist, but these burlesque ladies added some 1940s class to the street.

These dripping jellyfish were pleasing.

This was probably my favorite thing that I saw all day. If you’ve seen Sleep No More, my immersive theatre obsession, you might know why this Peggy Lee reference, “Is that all there is?”, caught my eye. If you haven’t seen Sleep No More or are tired of my incessant rambling about it, appreciate the textural aesthetic of this wall.

This street artist made a band-aid to patch up a crack in the wall.

Kenny Scharf, one of the most visible artists to come out of the NYC scene in the 1980s, recently painted these shutters with his instantly recognizable colorful characters.

I’m not sure what’s going on with the Monopoly Man here.

So there is your quick e-tour version of the LES street art tour! Now that I know what to look for, more street art is catching my eye, and it’s fascinating to watch it change from week to week, a never-ending collaboration between the urban environment and the artists.

Carsten Höller: Experience at the New Museum

Before it closed this past weekend, I visited the Carsten Höller: Experience at the New Museum. More entertainment than art, the exhibit included a mirror carousel, a slide that cut through two stories of the museum, upside-down glasses, a relaxation tank, and some suspect pills you could take with water. I’m not sure if was a great exhibit or groundbreaking for the museum, but it was definitely an experience.

The start of the “experience” required the signing of many waivers and the receipt of a wrist band, which would allow you on the art rides. The line was a little ridiculous, so we did not in fact ride the slide, which is okay, because I’m a generally edgy person and you were thrown out into a room with a pounding strobe light and prone, soft-looking creatures:

Startling, right? My iPhone camera seems to have been freaking out a little with the strobe lights. Don’t stare too long at the edges of that photo… or at the walrus’ eyes.

We did ride the mirror carousel, which went slowly, but quick enough to make it a little nauseating with its swaying motion, as you stared into the rides above and below you. We also went into a room that made you look like a ghost.

If you rode the slide, you were also prey to the camera vultures (like me) as they waited for your figure to streak by.

I wasn’t able to see Carsten Höller’s installation of slides at the Tate in London, but at least from photos it looks like a little more exciting. Oddly, even with everything being geared towards interaction, there was oddly little exuberance in the exhibit. Maybe it was all the wristbands and lines. Maybe it was also that I was visiting near the end of the exhibit and things were looking a little beat up. Anyway, I am glad that I went, and it’s always exciting when a museum tries something a bit different. Now if they put a slide on the Guggenheim ramp, that would be exciting!

Williamsburg Street Art

If you wander around Williamsburg close to the shore of the East River, you can find some pretty cool street art. Animals and strange creatures in vibrant colors seem to be particularly popular right now. On the same day that I explored 5Pointz with Bron and Mark, we took the East River ferry from Long Island City to Williamsburg to continue our street art photography expedition. Below are some highlights:

Finally, this isn’t street art, but a pretty silly pun that required photographing:

Oh, and you can never have too many shots of NYC bridges: