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New York City Photography Walks

WALL MURALS OF NEW YORK CITY, PART 1

Article by Matej Silecky

Photography by Matej Silecky

Spring has sprung! Better yet, life seems to be starting to return to “normal” (fingers crossed). In New York City, most capacity restrictions are scheduled to end soon – “the city that never sleeps” is starting to feel like it is coming back from its enforced long slumber. It is a great time of year to get outside and explore with your camera. You know from my prior posts that I encourage practicing photography by simply going out with your camera and shooting, and New York City provides never-ending opportunities to do that.

New York City is also full of outdoor art, including many wall murals, some planned and approved, some graffiti, and all interesting. It would be impossible to cover them all in one post. Here, I’ve provided a sampling of wall murals easily accessible in the region of New York’s famed High Line [MAP], a public park built on an elevated freight rail line saved from demolition, which is itself a great place to experience nature and art on Manhattan’s West Side.

You can start and end your walk at the 30th Street entrance to the High Line, right at Hudson Yards. There is plenty to see at Hudson Yards too, including The Vessel [MAP] and whatever art exhibit is on display at The Shed [MAP]. You’ll see some great wall murals as you stroll along the High Line. You will also see a rotating exhibit of other public art. Here are two pieces that were on exhibit when I did this walk:

1.    What Lifts You (Kelsey Montague Art)

Shortly after entering the High Line, you’ll see this incredible 5-story high mural on your left, at 10th Avenue and 29th Street. I love the theme of this work, What Lifts You, and how the colors really pop from the brick buildings around it. Check out the artists’ other works for more on the #WhatLiftsYou theme. And, don’t forget to take your photos with your companions interacting with the mural!

2. Young Veezy (artist unknown)

You will also see this image from the High Line, on the side of a building in Chelsea. It has been there for quite a few years now, but I haven’t been able to determine the artist. If you know, let me know. It is a great example of New York graffiti.

There are a few other wall murals visible from the High Line, but some of them were behind scaffolding and under repair when I took these photos. Keep an eye out for new art while you are walking this route!

3.  Sister of the Road, Lara Schnitger (Netherlands)

An example of the rotating public art exhibits on the High Line, Ms. Schnitger’s large-scale sculpture “crosses the boundaries of installation, sculpture, fashion, architecture, and collage. The physicality of her works celebrates the female body and frames femininity as a complex and powerful force. Schnitger’s large-scale sculpture Sister of the Road, made in painted aluminum, floats along her own path, unconfined by the structures around her. With her head thrown back in a moment of ecstasy, the towering figure appears worry-free, breaking loose from of the train tracks laid before her on the Northern Spur Preserve at 16th Street.”

This exhibit might not be there by the time you take this walk, but I love its placement at the end of a train track!

4.  Gandhi and Mother Teresa Mural, Eduardo Kobra [MAP]

You have a great view of this mural from the High Line, but it is also worth a study from street level. Located at 10th Avenue and 18th Street in Chelsea, this is an inspiring mural by Brazilian artist, Eduardo Kobra. The mural honors Gandhi, who led India in its quest for independence from British colonization, and Mother Teresa, who was granted sainthood by the Catholic church for her efforts to help the poor of Calcutta.

5. Chelsea Market [MAP]

Chelsea Market, located at 75 9th Avenue, between 15th & 16th Streets, is a great place to take a break from the High Line. It is an incredible collection of eateries and shops, and more public art. They developed wonderful outdoor eating options over the last year, which I hope are retained. It is one of my favorite places in New York City. Having nothing to do with photography, but rather with my love of food, I heartily recommend Very Fresh Noodles, which serves – of course - freshly made noodles! If you can take the heat, get the Very Spicy Dan Dan Mian.

6. Os Gêmeos Double Mural [MAP]

After a noodle break, head down to street level and walk east on West 14th Street. You will find the Os Gêmeos Mural on two sides of a lot where a building was demolished, on the north side of the street between 7th and 6th Avenues.

This double mural was painted by Brazilian identical twin brothers Otavio Pandolfo and Gustavo Pandolfo, who are known as Os Gêmeos because it is Portuguese for The Twins. The double mural represents traditional hip-hop and the battles that took place on the streets of New York in the 1980s.

At this time, the area is fenced and Google Maps lists the location as “Closed.” I hope this does not mean this intricate mural will be covered up as have some of Os Gêmeos’ previous work in the City.

Graffiti Street has some great photos of the painting of this mural and lots of specifics about the artists and the details in this mural.

7. Love Vandal, Nick Walker [MAP]

From Os Gêmeos, head north on Sixth Avenue to West 17th Street. On the wall of SP+ Parking, on the south side of the ride, you’ll find The Vandal. The suited man you see in this mural is a common character in much of Nick Walker’s work. Walker is a popular British artist, but you can see this piece exhibiting his love of New York City for free from street level! Check out his Instagram for other work featuring The Vandal.

8.  Monte Rushmore, Eduardo Kobra [MAP]

This is another well-known wall mural by Eduardo Kobra. Like the Mother Teresa and Gandhi mural, it is visible from the High Line, but I prefer the view from street level, so I included it here as the last stop on this walk.

Monte Rushmore replaces the US Presidents carved on Mount Rushmore with this colorful mural of Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. You can read more about Kobra’s thoughts on this mural on his website.

This mural was painted in 2018 above the Empire Diner, which has been a part of New York City history and dining since the 1940s.

Viewing this mural led me to notice more informal wall art, both associated with restaurants. The first is the Ramen Sushi sign which you can see under the Monte Rushmore mural when viewing it from the High Line. The second is the floral pattern above the shop across the street from the Empire Diner. You will undoubtedly find more outdoor wall art when you are out exploring with your camera.

I’ll be sharing more about my travels and mural walks in the coming months, but if you have any questions about that or the gear suggestions here, feel free to Contact Me.

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