How to Catch a Time Traveller
Opening: Friday, March 19, 6-9pm
Lyons Wier Gallery
175 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10011
Having grown up outside of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love will always hold a special place in my heart. Although I’ve lived in New York for many years now, I make a point of going back to Philly as often as possible. When I heard that the organizers of the Love Letter for You mural project were running a special “Love Train” on Valentine’s Day, I jumped at the chance to join in on the love fest.
Waiting for the “Love Train” to depart from Center City, the excitement on the platform was palpable and infectious. To the sounds of the O’Jay’s “Love Train” blasting from a boombox, the enthusiastic “Love Train” staffers got everyone on board a specially decorated Market-Frankford El bound for West Philadelphia. Once the train emerged above ground at 44th Street, Steve Powers took to the PA for a tongue-in-cheek guided tour of the mural project. As if the cheers and claps of appreciation weren’t enough, the smiles on passengers’ faces spoke volumes about how this project has been received in Philadelphia.
Having lived in West Philly in the mid 90s, I know all too well how much this neighborhood is in need of revitalization. Empty lots, burnt out row houses and boarded up businesses are a fact of life in West Philly. When I walked along Market Street under the El last November to see the love letters in person for the first time, everyone who saw me photographing them spoke warmly and proudly of the murals. After yesterday’s train ride, I know without a doubt that this project has already touched many people and understand why it has so wholeheartedly been embraced by the community.
I could go on and on about the importance and impact of public arts programs, but I’ll spare you that and simply encourage you all to hop the train to West Philly and show the neighborhood some love.
It’s been a busy month for Italian artist, Blu, who put in some stellar work at this year’s Fame Festival in Grottaglie, Italy. An artist who consistently impresses in both the scale and content of his pieces, Blu shifted gears to paint his first US mural on the exterior of Deitch Projects‘ Long Island City gallery. Yesterday I caught the artist putting some finishing touches on his latest masterpiece, working under a plastic tarp to escape the rain. This sunny mural – a commentary on the state of the US economy? or on the intersection between art and commerce? – is a welcome shot of color on the otherwise bleak East River waterfront.
Thanks to some outraged citizens who took matters in their own, very capable hands, the illegal billboard that had briefly covered this beautiful Conor Harrington mural in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District was swiftly removed. Although the newly opened High Line Park brought about the predictable whitewashing of all graffiti on adjacent buildings, I was very pleased to see that not yet all vistas are given over to corporate sponsorship.
As soon as I heard word that the Os Gemeos had been tapped by Deitch (home of the twin’s stellar exhibition in New York last summer) to paint a mural in place of the Keith Haring tribute, I knew I had to make my way down to the corner of Houston and the Bowery as soon as possible. This is the mural in progress near the end of the second day of painting. I suppose it will take several days to finish and – like the rest of the global street art community – I am on the edge of my seat in anticipation of seeing this completed!