NEW YORK – I’m still smarting from the loss of 190 Bowery and grappling with my opinions on real estate developer funded projects like Coney Island Walls, but while I was having internal arguments, the paint went on. In fact, 2015 was a vibrant year for street art and public art, with intriguing, engaging and even perplexing works from new-to-me artists like Ayakamay and Calen Blake, and old favorites like Swoon and Faile.
The Public Art Fund gave children and adults alike a chance to run through the sprinklers
Some years it’s all about the colors and the shapes, the personal and not the political. In 2015 however, I couldn’t stop thinking about context. My favorite pieces of 2015 were not only visually and technically exciting, but in some way engaged with their community, their city, even the larger world.
The 100 Gates Project turned drab storefront gates into vibrant canvases, in the process giving much needed free space for artists to explore.
Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Gardens (below) blends one man’s expansive imagination, with his commitment to revitalizing buildings and neighborhoods.
The Swarm in the South Bronx slyly played out a gentrification battle in comic book form.
The pieces in Women on Walls (below) weren’t explicitly political, but their presence, on expensive real estate in an expensive neighborhood, not far from 190 Bowery made me reflect not only on gentrification, but on representation and visibility, and how there can be more of both, for more people in in street art and in life, in 2016.
More of that, please.