What I’ve been most excited to blog about from our recent New York trip can be summed up in two words: street art!
I went on my first street art walk in Granada, Spain in 2006, and since then I’ve been hooked. Historically, graffiti may not have originated in the Big Apple, but New York’s urban hip-hop culture in the 70s and 80s definitely helped shape graffiti as we know it. Seeing the city’s street art was a must-do for me; in a way, being in New York felt a lot like being in the birthplace of modern graffiti.
Most of today’s post comes from a New York street art walk I booked with Graff Tours, which I highly recommend if street art is your thing. I also ended up going back to the Lower East Side on a few other days and spotting a few pieces on my own.
My favorite comes first: a piece by Brooklyn-based artist Maya Hayuk (who’s also on Instagram). Symmetry, pattern and jaw-dropping color? Yes please! This is only part of a mural that takes up a huge wall off the Bowery. Different artists are invited to paint on the wall each season, so this might not even be there anymore.
Love those drips and splatters on the gravel, too.
… and the modern mosaics of Space Invader (or is he just Invader now?).
But for every former graffiti punk who’s turned “legit” and achieved global fame, there are thousands more in relative obscurity, telling their stories in spray paint, ink, yarn, paper, paste, stickers, stencils and more. And they’re worth discovering, too.
Not everything was fluo-laced and eye-poppingly colorful, like Maya Hayuk’s immense mural. In fact, I noticed a lot of black and white. But maybe the urban grit of Manhattan is a busy enough background for these works, and dialing back the color helps them stand out even more.
This memorial to the departed Philip Seymour Hoffman at the Centrefuge Public Art Project is also temporary, already replaced by the next round of artists invited to take part in this ongoing street art project.
I found these images cool in a mysterious kind of way, like koi fish swimming up a building, or even mermaids.
Age test! Remember Andre the Giant, professional wrestler who starred in The Princess Bride? If you know him, then you’re one of my people.
Like layers upon layers of paint and paper, cities are many-layered—what you see at the moment is never the whole story (refine this). I love hearing about artists’ backgrounds, references, and histories, and trying to connect all of that with what I see.
That’s why I believe going on a walking tour (like I did with Graff Tours) is really worth it. Isn’t it worth finding out where people come from, what they believe and what stories they’re trying to tell?
I think this yarn-bomber is trying to tell a story called “HOTTEH”, but I can’t really be sure. What do you think?