Musings, New York, North America

Art for Art’s Sake at New York’s 21st Precinct

New York and street art.  The two go together like peas and carrots…like peanut butter and jelly…like tequila and lime!  They’re inextricably intertwined, street art and New York; you can’t think of one without conjuring the other.

It’s no surprise, then, that New York City is teeming with talented street artists.  During the month of August, some of these artists, about 50 of them to be precise, had the opportunity to make their artwork visible to anyone willing to lay their eyes on it.  The 21st Police Precinct, established on East 22nd Street in Gramercy in 1863 and recently demolished to make way for luxury high-rises, was converted into a temporary exhibition space for these artists to bring their art directly to the public–the building was painted from literal basement to ceiling and opened for viewing for two short weekends before being reduced to a pile of rubble shortly thereafter.

The amount of detail in each work was astonishing, not to mention the fact that nary an inch of space was left unpainted; to take in every minute detail of this exhibition would have required hours upon hours of careful examination–inside closets, along floors, behind bathroom doors, up the walls of the stairwell–and it was this dedication to such an impermanent art form that I found most moving about the 21st Precinct.  It was art in its purest form: art for the sake of expression and nothing more.  Not for money, not for recognition, not art made to please the masses.  Just art.

Some of the more prominent pieces will live on through photography, as not a single person in attendance was without a camera (myself included, obviously), so I wanted to share some of the incredible art I was lucky enough to see before the 21st Precinct was demolished, even though the pictures will hardly do it…justice.21st Precinct Art Exhibit, NYC August 2014 21st Precinct Art Exhibit, NYC August 2014 21st Precinct Art Exhibit, NYC August 2014 IMG_0687 IMG_0688 IMG_0689 IMG_0691 IMG_0697 IMG_0699 21st Precinct Art Exhibit, NYC August 2014 21st Precinct Art Exhibit, NYC August 2014 21st Precinct Art Exhibit, NYC August 2014blue closetFight or flightIMG_0704gun shareIMG_0719IMG_0723IMG_0728IMG_9107IMG_9108IMG_9110IMG_9113IMG_9116IMG_9127IMG_9128IMG_9129IMG_9131IMG_9137IMG_9139Precinct 1

*As a final thought, I found it really interesting to see how these artists portrayed the police in their paintings, especially in light of all the negative press the NYPD has received lately over charges of blatant brutality and the use of unnecessary force.  Did you notice a pattern?  Do you think there was a message being sent here, even in the fact that NYPD property was essentially “vandalized” from top to bottom?  What do you think?  

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  • Reply kami September 6, 2014 at 11:05 am

    I love street art! These pieces are just amazing! I’d love to visit New York, just to explore its incredible street art scene and this post made me want to go there even more!
    kami recently posted…10 epic moments of my trip to Middle EastMy Profile

    • Reply LaMochilera September 7, 2014 at 12:20 pm

      Yeah I could easily just spend a day wandering to look at street art around the city! It’s a great place for that. Hope you get to go soon!

  • Reply antonette - we12travel September 7, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Gorgeous, love the variety in art!

    • Reply LaMochilera September 9, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      It really was incredible!

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