I moved to NYC in 2015 and at the time, was worried the concrete streets and New York minute would be off-putting for a Bay Area transplant and Midwestern native. Since then, I have fallen in love with this city, finding a beauty in its grittiness, complexity in its culture, humor in its eccentricities, and some damn good food. This is a growing collection of work as I continue to wander this city that never sleeps.
Empire State Building from Brooklyn Bridge Park
Drawing athletes from around the world, the New York City Marathon is one of the most inspirational events all year. Runners of all abilities leave their blood, sweat, and tears on the pavement as they wind through streets and parks in all five boroughs.
When New Yorkers aren’t running through the streets, they’re marching through them, in protest. One thing I love about this city is her fighting spirit. NYC has a rich history of labor, political, and civil rights activism that is alive and well today. The march here is from the Not My President rally that day after Trump’s election.
2018 Women’s March
Walkup apartment - a rite of passage in NYC.
View from the back of a New York City yellow cab.
Perpetually looking down the tracks for the train. Which is always late. Because it’s the MTA.
Love in the afternoon
Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn
Empire State Building disappearing into the mist
That iconic NYC skyline: Skyscrapers, rooftops and water towers
4th of July fireworks from a Brooklyn rooftop
Whether in a museum, a gallery, or on a brick wall, NYC is undeniably a mecca for incredible art.
Aimless wandering is a quintessential NYC activity, and one of my favorite places to do this is Manhattan’s Lower East Side (LES). Historically an immigrant neighborhood and officially dubbed “Loisaida” by the community’s largely Puerto Rican residents, the LES is a diverse blend of cultures, languages, food, and the most epic street art.
This series of images is from a project I worked on to develop an interactive map of murals and street art in the Lower East Side (LES). I spent many of my first weekends in NYC just wandering the neighborhood with my camera in hand, stopping to talk to residents and relax in the many community gardens.
Mural on the side of a NYCHA building in the Lower East Side. In addition to being saturated with amazing murals and public art, the LES has one of the highest concentrations of public housing in NYC, and fight for tenant rights and affordable housing is alive and well.
The Lower East Side is a vibrant community with a rich history of artist residents like Allen Ginsberg. Named after the iconic poem by Ginsberg, Howl Arts works to preserve this past and celebrate contemporary art in the East Village and Lower East Side by creating opportunities for artists to develop and share their work. In partnership with the Actors Fund, Howl! HELP makes it possible for artists to continue to work in this increasingly expensive city by providing emergency financial assistance and social services.
The Lower East Side is known as much for its community gardens as its public art. The gardens function as both green spaces and community gathering spaces, often ensuring that empty lots stay out of the hands of private developers and remain accessible to the people. One of my favorites is Los Amigos Garden on 3rd Street between Avenues A and B.
Los Amigos Garden mural by Chico
The colorful Alphabet City mural on the side of the RCN Cable building at Avenue C and 6th Street is the site of great controversy. The mural, painted by The Yok and Sheryo of the Jersey City-based Green Villian, attempts to depict the diversity of the Lower East Side, playing up the letter-based names of the neighborhood's avenues. However, the very fact that people from outside the LES community came in to paint a mural depicting the the community epitomizes the tensions of gentrification impacting the LES. For years, the RCN wall was painted by the celebrated local street artist, Antonio "Chico" Garcia, whose work can be seen all over the LES. Chico collaborated with the community group Loisaida Inc. to plan a mural celebrating LES “heroes” on the wall that would have engaged local youth in painting and learning about the history of their community. RCN nixed the idea, apparently still upset with Chico for his unauthorized Obama-McCain murals back in 2008, and opted to hire Green Villain.The situation raises important questions not only about gentrification, but who has the right to depict community and tell its stories.
On one of my many afternoon strolls documenting public art in the LES, I was lucky enough to encounter some art in action, as the Black Bottle Boys were filming a music video in front of the Alphabet City mural.