The northwest corner of Bowery and Houston Street in downtown Manhattan has become a plum site for the commissioned work of once subversive street artists. A revolving public exhibition space comprised of a single mural, the spot first gained notoriety in 1982 when Keith Haring used Day-Glo orange and his signature dancing figures to brighten up the wall of an abandoned hardball court.
The forsaken part of the city that Haring tried to rescue is long gone now, flanked by high-rise condos, Whole Foods and a Keith McNally bistro; but the wall remains as a tribute of sorts to Haring, who died at 31 in 1990. And, for the last decade, it’s served as a highly visible canvas for an impressive roster of street artists—Os Gemeos, Shepard Fairey, and JR among them—who have followed in Haring’s rebel footsteps.
The Bronx-born artist Crash (aka John Matos), who was a friend of Haring’s (and apparently has a thing for comic books and Popeye), is the latest in a lineup of former graffiti practitioners who need no longer toil under the cover of night.
Photos: Promila Shastri