NEW YORK – “Skateboarding is not a crime,” screamed a sticker lovingly placed on high school backpacks of the 1990s. In fact, for Billy Rohan, artist, owner of Samurai NY, and a professional skateboarder for 20 years, it was an inspiration for a public art project that’s beautifying the Lower East Side, one roll-down security gate at a time. Read more
NEW YORK – Rarely does the wall text for an exhibit inspire true surprise, but when a show’s sculptures are as visually straightforward, and yet conceptually perplexing as those in “Image Objects,” the new show from the Public Art Fund at City Hall Park, one finds out that sometimes a rock is so much more.
NEW YORK – The East Village is in bloom with women on walls, which I noticed on a recent walk through the neighborhood.
I started with Ayakamay’s glowing, red woman watches over East Second Street on the Ideal Glass wall gallery. A photograph of the artist in a kimono looking serenely powerful is encased in what looks like a golden ribcage. Ayakamay’s work combines both performance art and photography, which makes me hope for an event in which the red background behind her is not a static wall, but a backstage area from which the artist emerges.
A couple of blocks uptown and east on Great Jones Street between Lafayette and Broadway, I stumbled on a collection of wheatpastes and stickers. I’m a sucker the Goldilocks story, so I was drawn to the aptly named Goldloxe’s little girl with blonde curls and pink cheeks, the words “just right,” her puffy orange dress and Mary Janes with frilly socks. And those cheeks signal innocence, but those eyes suggest she knows more than the clothing lets on.
Next to Ms. “Just Right,” is a woman outlined in black ink, with a beautiful blue-tinged mohawk, the color lightly hovering above her hair like a halo. She’s by Calen Blake, an artist I was unfamiliar with before, but will be paying a lot of attention to now.
Before this walk, I was mourning the potential loss of the nearby 190 Bowery, whose exterior has been a graffiti mecca for years. After photographer Jay Maisel sold the building to notorious developer Aby Rosen.
Rosen told the New Yorker that while the graffiti “gives the building an aura, some sort of cachet,” he doesn’t know what will happen after his renovations end. He went on: “I mean, graffiti is nice, like the gritty seventies of New York. But let’s be honest—those days are gone.”
I may or may not have thrown my magazine across the room after reading that, but the wide range of artists featured on this otherwise unassuming wall gave me hope that whatever Rosen decides to do with the walls of 190 Bowery, artists will always find a way to mark their mark in this part of town.
By ILANA NOVICK
NEW YORK – Alexis Diaz creates incredible, surreal species that may not yet be found in nature, but are so photographically detailed, so precise that you might believe that an elephant-octopus hybrid, or even a zebra-chimp, do exist and are currently wandering somewhere around the world. You are just a nonbeliever who hasn’t had the pleasure of meeting one. However, sometimes this precision is used not to adorable effect, but something more sinister and captivating. Like hearts. And skulls.
NEW YORK – Whether carrying a jaunty umbrella on the side of Bleecker Street bar Thunder Jacksons, professing his love for New York on Ludlow just below Delancey, or calmly reading a newspaper amid the delicious dumpling shops of Eldridge Street, Nick Walker’s dapper Vandal brings a touch of class wherever he goes.
NEW YORK – Jeffrey Deitch, back after a less than sunny Los Angeles stint, wasted no time in plunging right back in the City’s art scene. He’s curating 25 walls on a Thor Equities-owned lot on Bowery Street, straddling the boardwalk and Surf Avenue.
NEW YORK – Danish artist Jeppe Hein brings whimsy and water to Brooklyn Bridge Park this summer with “Please Touch the Art,” a three-part series of interactive sculptures that spans the entire length of the park.
‘Head of Goliath’ by Nicolas Holiber, New York City. Images by Ilana Novick
NEW YORK – There’s a 4-feet-tall severed head in Tribeca, but the office workers happily eating lunch in Tribeca Park, a triangular green oasis a block below Canal Street don’t seem disturbed. The head is lying sideways, having abandoned its former bodily home. Fortunately this is not the beginning of a Law and Order episode, but rather sculptor Nicolas Holiber’s intriguing The Head of Goliath.
A detail of the Beau Stanton painting focuses on those mysterious eyes. Photo by Illana Novick.
NEW YORK – My favorite parts of Little Italy these days are DiPalo’s, whose mozzarella provides a Proustian rush every time, Alleva for the creamiest of all ricottas, and the L.I.S.A. Project, a nonprofit organization that brings together a diverse group of artists’ work to walls in the neighborhood. Since this is Reading the Streets and not Ilana’s Ode to Cheese, let’s focus on the latter.
NEW YORK – “Reunited and it feels so good,” I sang to myself (in my head, to protect the ears of innocent New Yorkers) as I passed the Houston and Bowery Wall, back after a year under tarp to make way for a new building. I feared the wall would go the way of 5 Pointz, but the developers kept their promise and I’m thrilled.
First up to rechristen the space are Ron English and his signature Temper Tot. Temper Tot is on first glance, the babysitting job of your nightmares. He’s the Incredible Hulk as a toddler, smaller than the original, but still green and muscled, wearing the same cutoff shorts that I’m pretty sure he ripped himself. His fists are balled, eyes closed, as if any other sensory input would ruin his hard-won strength. He seems primed for a fight, or at least a tantrum. The tot is set against a backdrop of an American flag, composed of stars and stripes and ad parodies. Diabetic Coke anyone? Cigarettes called Breathe? Perhaps human flesh for $6.99 a pound? Seems reasonable given the going rate these days.
Is he railing against consumerist culture? Sick at the prospect of growing up in a world where these abstracted ads are not parodies, but commonplace: just another feature of a grocery store run.
Maybe he’s just tired of all of the people, me included, snapping pictures of him. Either way, don’t expect this tot to go down for a nap without a fight.