I’ve got two small but exciting pieces from The L.I.S.A. Project NYC to talk about today.
When I first started working on organizing murals in Little Italy, we called it The L.I.S.A. Project NYC for Little Italy Street Art. We never expected to get beyond Mulberry Street, but about 18 months later, have our first mural in Chinatown. Earlier month, The L.I.S.A. Project NYC invited Ben Eine to paint a mural at 161 Bowery, and he knocked it out just before the opening of his show at Judith Charles Gallery. Eine and his work will always hold a special place in my heart. His work helped me get interested in street art when I saw shutters much like his piece for The L.I.S.A. Project NYC peppering Shoreditch six years ago when I knew absolutely nothing about street art or graffiti. Ben was also one of the first artists that I spent any proper time with or chatted with about street art, and he really inspired me to explore things further. For all those reasons, plus I just plain enjoy his shutter alphabets, it was a joy to help arrange a spot for him to paint, and for him to be our first artist painting outside of Little Italy. He helped me expand my horizons six years ago, and now he’s doing the same for The L.I.S.A. Project NYC.
Eine’s show at Judith Charles Gallery in NYC, Heartfelt, runs through March 16th, but here’s one photo from the show. You can see more over at Arrested Motion.
This month we’ve also worked with Ludo. Earlier this week, he pasted a piece on a door on Mulberry Street in the heart of Little Italy. I’ve been a fan of Ludo’s work for years, so I’m bummed that Wayne and Rey, my partners at The L.I.S.A. Project NYC, got to handle this one themselves while I sit in Philadelphia. On the plus side, in addition to the door with The L.I.S.A. Project NYC, Ludo has been getting up around NYC and he has a solo show opening at Jonathan Levine Gallery this Thursday evening (6-8pm). So I’ll have a lot to check out next time I’m in town.
I think these are great pieces, but let’s face it: Ben and Ludo both painted work with The L.I.S.A. Project NYC in the run-up to gallery shows. And some of the work we have planned for the next few months also coincides with gallery shows. I know some people find that controversial, suggesting that the murals become mere ads for the gallery work. As someone who really doesn’t like outdoor advertisements, this is something I think about. I look at things from a different angle: In many cases, the artists we work with who time their pieces with a gallery show are out of town artists. They aren’t going to come back in a month when their show is down to put up work, so we grab them while they are around. And yes, the work may function as an ad to some viewers, but the work has no real branding on it beyond the artist’s own signature style. For 99% of the people who see these works in person, they see pure public art, not ads. And if you look at a work of street art or public art and do see an ad, it’s only because you’re already aware of the show that you may think the work is there to promote. Do murals help promote shows in a roundabout way? Sure. But it’s a subtle promotion that results in the creation of public art, and personally I have no problem with artists working in galleries. I want to support my talented friends so that they can live off of their art, if they choose to do so. So yes, we at The L.I.S.A. Project NYC are proud to say that sometimes we work with artists who are putting up art that coincides with gallery shows, because it allows for a more diverse set of murals and furthers supports the artists we love.
Photos by Rey Rosa for The L.I.S.A Project NYC