Before the summer ends, New York is still happily awash in myriad public festivals, concerts, street fairs, free Shakespeare in the park, stoop sales, fire hydrant fountains, rooftop parties and of course tourists who would like to scale a bridge. Last week our August dog days extended to welcome one of Street Art's bigger names to swing through with a new mural that drew small crowds with a decidedly optimistic message.
Shepard Fairey doesn't really do small. It has to be a vast designed and balanced swath of red, black and ochre that takes over an entire wall or it is nothing. Well, maybe he'll slap up a couple of stickers on lamp posts while you're not looking.
He also doesn't appear to do fake. When that extended crane lift finally lowers him to the ground he makes time to say hello to admirers, artists, and the occasional antagonist and to sign his name, shake a hand, listen to a story and offer a thoughtful opinion. In this age of quickly spreading news across social media, word of Fairey's new mural on Bowery and Broome didn't take long to ricochet across phones and before you knew it there were people on the sidewalk and dangling off roofs to get a good view.
Not strictly street art and not strictly in Little Italy, the new work is part of a commercial neighborhood improvement initiative that has brought pleasing murals by street artists to the tourist frequented area of Little Italy over the past two years. Over the course of three days the socially conscious Fairey and his brand Obey scored one wall for a symbol of peace during a summer that has pounded in our ears with war drums in Ukraine, Russia, Syria, Libya, Israel, Palestine, and Iraq, among other sites of strife on the world stage.
A slogan at the bottom of the banner says "Transform Our World With Creative Response"; a nebulous enough sentiment that may be interpreted a few ways, and somewhat ironic on this island that is no longer open to young struggling creatives unless they can pay the $5K monthly rents that this neighborhood often demands. But the burning fire in the chest of the dove -- we'll just take a chance and say that it stands for our collective yearning for peace and freedom.
Let's hope Fairey sees something in the future many of us are missing.
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This article is also posted on Brooklyn Street Art.
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