Posts Tagged ‘murals in New York City’

A leftover relic of 1970s art on Mercer Street

March 13, 2013


Ever notice the 13-story geometric abstract painted on the side of a prewar loft building on West 3rd Street between Mercer Street and Broadway?

It looks like something straight out of the 1970s city, when this part of the Village was a warren of underused loft structures, and landlords didn’t know—or care—what was painted on them.

Here’s the backstory of this curious relic of a less restrictive city. Created in 1970, it was commissioned by a artists’ group called City Walls, Inc. and painted by a cofounder of the group known as Tania.

City Walls apparently went around the city looking for facades to paint, and when they found one, they simply asked the landlord for permission.

GatewaytosohoOf her “three-dimensional” painting of overlapping pyramid shapes, Tania had this to say in a 1971 New York Times article:

“I want to take art out of the museums and galleries. . . . A wall belongs to everybody; it can’t be traded on the art market.”

Could an arts group paint a public wall today? Probably not without paying a hefty fee for the privilege.

City Walls was also responsible for this mural a few blocks south on Houston Street, titled “Gateway to Soho.”

[Photo, right, by Beyond My Ken]

The Whales of the Port Authority Bus Terminal

April 13, 2009

Sea life at the Port Authority? It’s easy to miss this 400-foot marine-themed mural, since it’s located in the dark and grimy 41st Street underpass through which Greyhound and New Jersey Transit buses regularly lumber through.

But one-name artist Wyland painted one of his 400-foot Whaling Walls here in 1993, coloring an exterior wall of the Port Authority in blues and greens and black.


Wyland’s Whaling Walls, featuring humpbacks, blue whales, and other marine creatures, exist all over the world. There must be an interesting back story as to how this one ended up pretty much hidden away in an urban underpass, out of view of commuters and passerbys.