For more information about this tour, please visit: http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/new-york-tours/walking-tours/manhattan-street-art-tour/
The area of SoHo in Lower Manhattan was started as a result of imminent domain. Artists squatted in the old, run-down buildings in SoHo. It was the artists who made SoHo great. After the artists came, DJs arrived, parties took place, and the changing culture in the 1980s and the burgeoning fashion scene helped shape SoHo into what it is today.
Graffiti is about messages. A lot of street art I saw used cognitive dissonance to make a statement. Cognitive dissonance is when the artist challenges you to think about something. The artist makes you wonder what their message is all about. The artist, Kai, uses this technique in “Save Urself”. Whereas, on the other end of the spectrum, the art used in advertising and marketing ads, the message needs to be crystal clear. I learned about the term “Artivism,” meaning Art-Activism. Using a social, environmental, or political message in street art. Kai uses Artivism. One of his works is near 52 Spring St. called “Save Urself.” I learned that this is a mold that is made and is just slapped on with adhesive on a brick wall. Check out his website: http://kaiart.com/. Here are some other images of Kai's other artwork that I came across on the tour and later throughout the day! If you look at each piece closely, and give it some thought, you will discover his very clear message about society in general.
Some of the art was political in nature, like this one. But there is street art that is done with the building-owner’s permission. Another unique part of street art is the language used. People would describe how their fellow street artist friends create their art fast, incognito, and without being discovered. They’d say “You Bomb it.”, “You'd hit it.”, or “You'd strike it.” A lot of the street art was created somewhere else and then put up in a matter of seconds with adhesive, or wheat paste. Artists would also have “Style Wars”; Who can do this the biggest, the best, etc. Some artists get permission to post their art, while others do not. I learned that the artist who created "Man on Floor" was arrested for creating this. Many artists are looking to have freedom of expression.
Shepard Fairey’s large OBEY mural below. Fairey is also known to have done the famous Obama Hope election poster of President Barack Obama. To learn more about Shepard Fairey, check out his website: https://obeygiant.com/.
What’s known as the “Keith Haring Wall”, was later turned into the Houston Bowery Foundation in the 1990s, with developer Tony Goldman involved in developing SoHo. Keith Haring made the wall infamous by painting an original mural as a gift to the community in the late 1970's. With ownership of the wall, the Goldman family felt a sense of responsibility to bring art and beauty to the public on a grand scale. On a rolling basis, the wall continues to feature the work of established and emerging street artists. The mural located in that spot during my visit was from the artist, Logan Hicks. It was a huge mural created using stencils, with 6 layers of cutouts. I learned it took 2 weeks to do the painting onsite with about 600 hours of preparation. Check out his website: http://workhorsevisuals.com/new
“Audrey on Mulberry” (Audrew Hepburn) by Tristan Eaton was commissioned by an organization called the LISA Project [see below for more info on the Lisa Project]. Check out Triston Eaton's website: http://tristaneaton.com/
The Vandal was painted by the artist, Nick Walker. http://www.theartofnickwalker.com/ This mural is part of his number series. The British artist, Nick Walker, was one of the first of the British graffiti artists. He’s a stencil artist who uses the free-ness of graffiti coupled with beautiful and intricate stenciling. Here is a photo of the mural as well as a photo showing the detail.
Many artists look to create art at a location what they legally have permission to paint. Little Italy has a nonprofit Street Art Association called The LISA Project. The LISA project is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that brings together a diverse group of street artists to Little Italy creating Manhattan's first and only mural district. For more information as well as links to many of NYC Street Artists, please visit: http://www.lisaprojectnyc.org/. Centre-fuge transforms construction-sites, transitional spaces, and structures in under-appreciated neighborhoods into outdoor gallery spaces in New York City and also in Miami. First Street Green Art Park: Since 2008, First Street Green has converted a derelict building lot at 33 E. 1st Street in Manhattan into an open art space.
To learn more, I highly encourage you to take the Free Manhattan Street Art Walking Tour By Foot. It was a fantastic way to spend 2 hours in New York City. As I walked the streets later that day, at nearly every corner and also in-between, I found new artwork, and began to see more street art of some of my favorite street artists.
As an artist myself, it's fascinating to experience this type of art and understand its context in the New York Art Scene and on the World Art Scene. Many of these artists have made a name for themselves, been invited to participate in Museum shows, secured gallery representation, and/or have become successful in the art world. The Piano I created this past summer gave me a sense of putting art out in the public realm for all to see and experience. Walking through this area reinvigorated me and I hope to find public art projects to be involved with in the future.
In addition to the tour, you can learn more about NYC Street Art at the website: Streetsmartguide.org or http://www.3rdculturecreative.com/. The 3rd Culture Creative also has a great list of bios on many of the street artists: http://www.3rdculturecreative.com/art-street-artists-bios.html.
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