Reading the Streets: Olek in Little Italy
The lucky recipient of the 60-foot long tapestry is a parking lot fence on Mulberry Street, between Hester and Grand. The yarn forms a camouflage blanket for the metal fence. The weather may remind me of winter white and blues, but Olek warmed up our eyes with oranges, browns, reds, greens and yellows, and with them hints of fall and spring. The pattern is mostly abstract but the greens and browns come to together to resemble trees, and the other colors fire or heat.
Above these zigzaging colors, the words “there is no such thing as part freedom” are sewn in blue, white, pink and orange in thick block lettering. The quote is attributed to Nelson Mandela, who died shortly before the piece was installed and so also serves as a tribute to his memory. I love that this tribute bucks the more common portrait trend for memorials and instead captures Mandela’s work and activism with words and colors. Of course faces are important for memory, but I’d love to see another street artist experiment with new ways to pay tribute and give thanks for departed heroes.
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