If you’re a street art lover, New York City is the gift that keeps on giving. You could turn the corner and find a giant mural of Mickey Mouse, or you could look down and find sidewalk art that’s perfect for your Instagram shoe-fie. Come back the next day, and you might find something completely different. Street art is fleeting in nature, and that’s part of its charm. But can you have something temporary, yet permanent? Something so iconic that it transcends street art’s evanescent nature? Yes, you can. In New York City, that phenomenon exists with the Bowery Wall Mural.
The Bowery Wall, as it’s simply called, is a large space on the northwest corner of Houston Street and Bowery in Manhattan’s downtown. The spot earned its place in history when Keith Haring, an up-and-coming artist at the time, painted a mural there in 1982. The wall was acquired by the Goldman family but due to its storied history, the family decided to pledge the space as a public outdoor gallery. In 2008 Goldman Properties tapped Jeffrey Deitch, who was already a major player in the art scene, to help them curate the wall. On what would’ve been Keith Haring’s 50th birthday, a replica of Haring’s original piece debuted in the space.
From that point on, a rotating gallery of artists have graced the space. Such famous names as Shepard Fairey (2010) and French wheatpaste artist JR (2011) have been on display. As of March 2018, Banksy–another name that’s recognizable well beyond the street art community–has taken over. Street art and socio-political commentary often go hand-in-hand, and all the more so here. The Bowery Wall isn’t just substantial in size, it’s also in a highly-trafficked spot. It functions as the proverbial soapbox from which the artists speak truth to power. Shepard Fairey championed free speech and JR cast a light on the plight of impoverished native tribes like those at Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Banksy is protesting the imprisonment of Turkish artist, Zehra Dogan.
David Choe’s mural this morning on Houston & the Bowery… pic.twitter.com/fGF09UM3dO
— evgrieve (@evgrieve) June 14, 2017
However, that soapbox doesn’t just belong to the artist. When David Choe put a mural up in 2017, it was promptly defaced in response to a story the artist told on a podcast about sexually assaulting a masseuse. (He later stated he relayed it purely for shock value and had never assaulted a woman.) Continued vandalism and ongoing protests resulted in the mural being completely whitewashed less than two weeks later.
The Bowery Wall is a New York City icon, and one doesn’t have to be a street art fanatic to appreciate its value. But if you ARE a street art fanatic, then check out our guest post for the Street Art Chat Blog, which highlights a few locations nearby where you can discover additional amazing pieces.
Pair it with:
Brunch at Jane
Critics pile on effusive praise at a restaurant’s launch and then deliver an overwhelming flood of criticism a few months later. It’s all the rave one day, then it suddenly closes the next. Much like the street art scene, the restaurant industry is transitory one. But there are exceptions. For more than 15 years, Jane has served consistently well-executed, unassuming American cuisine from its perch between the New York City neighborhoods of Greenwich Village and Soho.
Though Jane is a full service bistro, offering perfectly respectable lunches and dinners, it’s their weekend brunches that draw a sidewalk crowd of hungry, impatient waitlisters. With a solid menu lineup of fantastic benedicts, omelettes, steak frites, sandwiches and salads, there’s good reason for it, too. We’ve made many repeat visits to Jane over the years and have always come away both pleased and satiated. Actually, maybe a tad bit more than satiated. When a restaurant has, in our humble opinion, one of the best french toasts in the city, it’s a foregone conclusion you snag one “for the table”, just as we did…yet again.
100 West Houston St
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