One of my favorite neighborhoods in Manhattan is Lower East Side, sometimes abbreviated to LES. I’ve stayed there in the past and love the neighborhoods because of its vibrant art scene: it’s full of galleries and street art and there is always something happening on small neighborhood-ish theaters. The places to eat are also nice, and the space is very open, compared to other areas in Manhattan. There are no skyscrapers or even tall buildings. It’s much more cozy and there are no tourist crowds like in Midtown.
This time I was staying in Chelsea, but felt like doing something in LES, so I looked through some of the AirBnb photography experiences offered around. If you’re new to AirBnb, nowadays it’s not only a great to find a place to stay but also for interesting experiences with locals. You can sign up for AirBnb using this link and you’ll get $22 in free credit that you can use to book a place or an experience.
One of the photography experiences that caught my attention was a street art tour around LES. Did I already made clear enough I love LES? Taking an street art tour in this place was perfect!
The experience I booked is Street art scene with insider, look at those beautiful reviews. I knew this was fun when I read this quirky line from the host, Audrey, an street art expert known on Instagram as @bytegirl24:
Favorite hobby? Watching paint dry.
Another interesting thing about this is that 100% of the proceedings for this experience were going to fund the LISA project
The LISA project is a 501c3 non-profit organization bringing together a diverse group of street artists to historic Mulberry Street in the Little Italy neighborhood of New York City to create Manhattan’s first and only mural district. The district now extends into SoHo, Lower Eastside, East Village, Chinatown and Chelsea. Encouraging locals and tourists alike to visit all of Lower Manhattan.
So one bright Saturday morning, we got all together in a LES corner and started learning about street art. Here’s some captures of this great experience! Everything was shot with the Fujifilm X-T2 camera and the XF 18-55mm lens.
I’ll start with this collosal artwork by Stik, which was the first one we saw, and very appropriate since it was our first approach to this street art world. It drives me crazy how the artist can give so much expressivity to the face and the body, using only those rounded black eyes and carefully delineating the sticks for arms and legs.
The piece below by Sara Erenthal is fantastic, the colors are so bright and the lines so clean. Sara fled home to avoid her arranged marriage and has been producing awesome artwork ever since.
One artwork that we saw in a lot of different places was the one by Claudia “Claw Money” Gold, who remixes this claw in every way possible. She often collaborates with another artists like in the artwork at the top of the building.
Another interesting artwork, maybe not cute, on the opposite, maybe a bit on the disturbing side, were these small “windows” by Dan Witz. There were four in a building and went from unsettling to scary.
Not far from there, these fully painted buildings provided a more cheerful note. There are artworks from more than one artist here, most prominently, Key Detail‘s pigeons, and the faces by the chilean duet UnKolorDistinto.
Another colorful but this time abstract piece by Matt Gondek. His artwork is said to be deconstructive an if you look carefully, you’ll notice Marvin the Martian in Space Jam. His use of motion is really expressive.
The size of these artworks is really impressive, the richness of colors is mesmerizing. Diverse artists from all over the world each one with a unique style shown through their work. When you look at all together you get a seriously complex art network interwoven throughout Lower East Side.
Look at the image below. Can you imagine so much artwork together? Color gradients by the argentinian-spanish Felipe Pantone, skeletons by the washingtonian-turned-californian Danny Minnick, the wall face–that I’ll highlight below–by Vhils from Portugal. It’s really beautiful. It’s mind blowing to think at all the effort behind each one of these.
There three more pieces that I loved and want to highlight. First, one that is seen in the photo above, this face carved on a surface by portuguese artist Vhils. He creates artwork by destroying an existing medium, in the same way a writer destroys the white of a paper. He adds a layers, paints on it sometimes, and then proceeds to carve his artwork
is this bright sun-bleeding piece by Gemma Gene, it’s lovely how it transforms the urban landscape. When we visited this, someone had tagged it with gray, but it was going to be revamped during the next week. It’s also remarkable that some pieces have a very long life. Some can last for a couple of months, until a new one covers the complete area, but some others can last for years.
Then, this big piece by Shepard Fairey. I said big? I meant huge! It dominates the entire space from above. One of the most influential street artists, Shepard is widely known for the iconic Barack Obama “Hope” poster.
And finally, this lovely Audrey of Mulberry by artist Tristan Eaton that can be found in the corner of Broome & Mulberry at the entrance of Little Italy. It’s absolutely gorgeous!
That’s all for now, but there’s more. We saw so many artworks that I had to split this post in two, including here the large pieces and leaving the next one for the small pieces that nobody should miss because they’re truly awesome.