New Yorkers stick together in times of crisis. Most for us acknowledge that we are lucky to be living in one of the best places on earth; home to mesmerizing art, amazing architecture, a plethora of museums and galleries, and myriad talented artists. During these darker days, artists of all stripes are saluting our medical workers, emergency responders and essential workers in their own ways.
Street art, a quintessentially New York form of art, has sprung up spontaneously in the city over the the last months. Graffiti, or street art, began in the city during the mid ’70’s financial crisis. If Basquiat were with us now, I can only imagine what his contributions would have been. I have been walking different parts of the city and many neighborhoods feel blighted because countless stores have been boarded up (more about this later). But, in the good news department … businesses large and small and individual New Yorkers have come together to celebrate our heroes these days in new and visual ways.
Indiewalls, an art consultancy business, has launched a donation-based, non-profit response program called #GiveaSign. This ongoing project takes pieces of art from various artists and turns the art into billboards and banners installed around New York City hospitals. This banner, and all the others, celebrates our brave and wonderful essential and medical workers. Jason Naylor is a local artist. His banner is across the street from Memorial Sloan Kettering Medical Center so it can be seen from the hospital.
London based Valero Doval contributed this sign near the NYU Tisch Hospital. Indiewalls also produced 300 smaller scale prints based on the banner’s design and delivers them to the hospitals. You can purchase the prints of these designs, and all the others on their website.
Mike Perry is a Brooklyn based artist and animator. His colorful work includes the animated intro sequences for Broad City. Want to help? If you have an outdoor wall that faces a hospital or another essential workplace, you can let your wall become part of the project. Or perhaps you or your company can sponsor a banner, or simply donate.
Adan Fu aka Adam Fujita is known for his retro neon-style graffiti and melting hearts. Why not melt some hearts of your own, and bring some joy to the world and donate to their Go Fund Me page. This way more hospitals can feel the joy artistically.
Pastel positive Steffi Lynn is also New York based. Most of the artists that have worked with Indiewalls have items for sale on their websites or through their social media feeds. One of the best things about this project is that you can discover the work of new artists and support them, too.
Karan Singh is an Australian based artist and illustrator with a love of bold color. His piece for #GiveASign does bring color and hope to the streets of New York.
Dividing her time between New York and Rome, C. Finley creates murals with intense colors and all sorts of other pieces saturated with love and positive energy. Let’s help Indiewalls keep the creativity coming. Please visit their website, and do what you can to help.
Elsewhere in the city, street artists have been at work adding their messages of love and gratitude in Soho. For some reason some stores and restaurants all over the city boarded up their windows and some big brands totally emptied out their stores. No one really knows why, but rumor has it that the big brands were afraid that the city would be torn apart by riots. Really?! The shutdown is bad enough, but when you neighborhood is full of boarded-up buildings it starts to feel even more bleak. Some of the works are done with permission and in partnership with the stores, and some are just freelance.
Marco Santini created this Mural of Appreciation for Bloomingdale’s on Earth Day.
He did the murals to thank the essential workers on the front lines with Bloomingdale’s whole-hearted support. The mural was painted in 10 hours, which is quite amazing when you look at the many panels. No two are the same. An energy of positivity brightens up this now quiet part of Broadway.
Isn’t it nice to see so many good thoughts all in one place? Street art has always been a part of the life on the street in Soho and other downtown neighborhoods. It was always tucked on walls on side streets and temporary sheds. Now it is front and center on empty and boarded up stores. A word of thanks to Marco Santini and the many other artists who are brightening up the city streets; and turning bleak into inspiring. They all offer images related to the windows on their social media accounts.
Aritzia, a Canadian based chain of stores, gave permission to Brooklyn based street artist Steve Powers, also know as ESPO, to cover their boarded up windows with a Covid-19 epic. The board on the front door imagines the Chrysler and Woolworth buildings as the parents. Apparently some of the boards were vandalized and stolen. The artist repainted them, using stronger screws and fasteners, with Aritzia replacing the missing boards.
This window is dedicated to the late John Prine, with lyrics from his song “Angel From Montgomery”. Powers started to auction off the windows, and they are now all spoken for. The money is going to Gods Love We Deliver down the street. Doordash has offered to match the donated funds. Buyers will get the pieces once the store is open again, and Soho is open.
The murals are a story about boats and being afloat, riding the tides and the times, and staying on the current, according to the artist. Funny, some people consider graffiti art or street art to be a crime, but the artists are only reflecting our communal worries and hopes. Their take on things is interesting and thought provoking.
Powers is offering other things for sale related to the windows through his Instagram account @espoartworld. Take a look. And do take the time to read some of the messages.
New York is a city where everyone can come together, and support such a wide variety of causes.
Several blocks away freelance artists decorated the Rick Owens store.
Owen’s mammoth sculptures and pieces of brutalist furniture are in the store should you happen to pass by. The art of living and fashion is more than just clothing.
Stadium Goods is a sneaker resale store recently purchased by the web retailer Farfetch. They sell coveted sneakers and street wear, with sneakers priced at over $8,000 on the website now. This work looks to be freelance (and lacks creativity).
The Guild, a home decor store that is home to La Mercerie restaurant, normally has wall art running down the Mercer Street side. That’s still there, along with some happy faces on the boarded windows.
The same hand seems to have taken over the windows of the Billionaire Boys Club store, owned by Pharrell Williams. Still, a happy face is better than a bare board.
The Isabelle Marant store has a lot of windows as well. There are a few stores that seem to have been painted by the same artist. I did not find the tag, or signature, but maybe there is one hidden there?
The Broome Street windows have a Covid Mona Lisa fit for our modern dilemna.
Across Broome Street, this gallery seems to be done by the same artist, with some freelance additions. Since the streets are almost entirely empty, it is easy for the artists to paint on the new surfaces being offered. I do not know if these windows were done in collaboration with the stores.
Several other stores around Soho have images of either an everyday citizen or emergency workers masked or smiling. Maybe reminding us to be thankful; and that this is going to be the new normal for a while.
Artists are posting art on building sheds as well as shop windows. This clever piece says “Stay Home, Wash Hands” in Latin, with some freelance swipes on it.
Kendra Scott also has a corner store. They originally covered their windows in bright yellow boards, a bit less depressing than plain old board. These masked New Yorkers look more like essential and medical workers, and the Latin speaking Horse joins the crew.
Around the corner on Spring Street, there is a version of Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People 1830, on the wall. Hard to see here, but an open pizza box is a nice touch. This appears to be the same artist that did the Marant Mona Lisa.
The Chanel Boutique is on the corner of Spring and Wooster Street. Chanel is one of the few big brands that did not totally empty out their store (thank goodness). Their store, and almost every one on the block between Spring and Prince was bombed with these little posters.
New Yorkers rarely lose their sense of humor, even in a crisis like the one we are now muddling through. Everything is up for grabs from Fedex to Emoji face masks.
The Gerard Darel store has another tribute to essential medical workers.
When the lockdown started, the Coach store walls were bare boards. Early this month they teamed up with Jason Naylor, who also worked with Indiewalls #GiveASign, to brighten up their corner of West Broadway. A great move on their part.
This Korean eyeglass brand features the work of different artists, each one with a different style. An interesting street gallery to browse until the boards are down.
Gucci originally did not add anything to its white boarded up windows. These actually blend in with the facade of the building.
Posters of portraits were added, evenly spaced along the windows of Wooster Street. If you have never been to this store, it is a must visit when life is back to normal. It’s unlike any brand store you have ever seen, with an interesting bookstore and regular exhibits.
Lizzy Savage started @heartsny recently to help us get through the shutdown. They are turning up in neighborhoods all over New York. Positivity and respect will help us all get to the other side of this. Let’s all be strong and stay optimistic, and do our part to beat the virus.
Perhaps you have been lucky enough to run into a Lewis Miller Design Flower Flash in the city. The first ones appeared in 2016. They tend to spring up in unexpected places; and are gorgeous. Several weeks ago one showed up around a lamp post outside New York Presbyterian.
This particular Flower Flash was done as a collaboration between Lewis Miller and American Express. There was a Flower Flash Box of Mr. Miller’s choice of about 80 stems of various flowers for sale on his website. Since Amex sponsored the piece, all of the proceeds went directly to the Greater New York Hospital Association.
These particular arrangements were made from flowers that were in the Flower Flash box. The boxes come with a link to instructional videos from Lewis himself to give you ideas as to how to create your arrangements.
These gorgeous arrangements are bud vases similar to the arrangements above, sent by Mr. Lewis for patients as MSK to enjoy. Unhappily, the original LMD X AMEX sold out quickly. However there is a new Flower Flash box, The Wedding Box, available right now. Part of the proceeds from the sale of this set of boxes go to The United Way of New York. Why not bring some floral art into your home, brighten your life a bit, and support charities helping all New Yorkers.
Lewis Miller Design, https://store.lewismillerdesign.com/
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.