Saturday, 22 February 2014

East Village and Street Artists

This time two weeks ago was my last Saturday in New York and was spent wandering around the East Village. It certainly hasn't lost the old charm and hopefully won't as it's home to the New York University campus and dorm houses.

In the 1950s, the migration of Beatniks into the neighborhood later attracted hippies, musicians and artists well into 1960s. The area was dubbed the "East Village", to dissociate it from the image of slums evoked by the Lower East Side. According to The New York Times, a 1964 guide called Earl Wilson's New York wrote that "artists, poets and promoters of coffeehouses from Greenwich Village are trying to remelt the neighborhood under the high-sounding name of 'East Village.'"

I met with my friends at Craft Bar for brunch .. truly scrumptious and a great way to set up a day of walking which was beautifully sunny but with a temperature of -6C! We shared the Brioche pain perdu (French toast!) which was amazing then followed up with Pork scrapple and eggs .. so delicious but after scoffing the French toast we all found it hard to finish our plates! 

We walked through the Farmer's market and meandered through the streets on our way to the Dorian Grey Gallery to see a collaboration of work by street artists Remi Rough and John 'Crash' Matos.  I have been a fan of John's work for a number of years. He was one of the original graffiti artists whose work adorned the New York Subway in the 70's and has gone on to greater things. I feel lucky to have seen the subway in the 80's when I first went to NY just before they were cleaned up. The carriages looked quite different to anything I'd ever seen  and I found the atmosphere very intimidating and scary. Crime was rampant so I was right to be cautious. How different it is now! 

Whilst at the gallery we got to see prints by London based artist Stik.   
Stik mural
Stik people, although androgenous and constructed from simple shapes, are nevertheless capable of conveying complex body language and emotion. These themes of human emotion and expression are infused in Stik’s brightly coloured street art. Stik, the street artist, himself was homeless for a period and ideas surrounding human vulnerability are also detectable in his art. I love the visual simplicity of his work and the prints I saw were all sold ready for shipment. I acquired a small diary he had produced and signed so that's my little piece of Stik art to treasure.

The area is a hub of vintage shops and independent traders. I loved the vibe and reminded me so much of all those iconic scenes in old movies. I really hope that the gentrification that's occurring all over the city doesn't make too much of an impact on it. Once the soul has gone it never returns.!trains/c1w1e

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