I wanted to write about “After Hours: Murals on the Bowery,” a project organized by the Art Production Fund in conjunction with the Festival of Ideas for The New City mentioned in my post this morning, but Andrew Russeth beat me to it at his blog, 16 Miles of String. Here are his images and an excerpt from his excellent report.
In December 2009, the New York City Council voted to require business owners to replace garage-style security gates with ones that allow views into the stores behind them by July 2026. “Roll-down gates are essentially large metal canvases,” the New York Times’ James Barron wrote in a report on artists who criticized the ban on the metal walls (which can no longer be installed after July 1 of this year). Barron noted that some painters have made their names on those gates, like octogenarian Franco Gaskin (also known as Franco the Great or the Harlem Picasso), who has painted scores of them around the world and more than a dozen along 125th Street in Manhattan. In other cases, a street-level mural may be one of the highlights of an artist’s career. The city is filled with them.
All of which is to say that the Art Production Fund’s latest project, which involved commissioning contemporary artists to design murals for 18 security gates along the Bowery, between Houston and Grand Streets, has an elegiac element alongside its more celebratory aspects. The works, which officially debuted on the evening of May 7 (they’re only visible when the stores are closed: at night and on Sunday, in most cases), are on view for only two months, after which they’ll be painted over, embodying the upcoming legislated disappearance of the gates across the city. A medium is slowly being ushered offstage….
Read the rest of Russeth’s report here.