Saturday, May 11, 2013

Culture: 190 Bowery, New York - A Mecca Of Street Art

It seems New York City is a paradise for connoisseurs of street art. Especially in South Manhattan - Soho, the East Village & Lower East Side - where you can see hundreds of murals, graffiti, cut  outs and other pieces of contemporary art.

There is place of pilgrimage for street art lovers: 190 Bowery at the corner of Spring Street, a fashionable east-west connection in Soho, and the Bowery, a road which runs north-south along the Lower East Side and from East Village to China Town (

The building was owned once by the Germania Bank that financed the mainly German community of the Lower East Side in the 19th century (Little Germany). In 1966 the house was sold to Jay Maisel, a commercial photographer (wikipedia). According to New York Magazine (nymag) the artist is still its owner and uses the six-story, 72-room, 35,000-square-foot building partly as gallery spaces for his photography and art projects.

I have never been inside but when I pass the Germania building I am fascinated by the almost black walls that have been painted, sprayed and glued by various artists.
I enjoy the different styles and ideas expressed by the persons who have ben displaying their work there for many years.

Apparently 190 Bowery is a place for artistic freedom. Old pieces are partly covered by new work.It's art in progress. You could call the changes anarchy or even vandalism, but it is kind of evolution. Hence the walls are continually changing like a living being.

The mixture of old and new expressions from a lot of different persons is an art piece of itself. The house, at least its walls on Spring Street and Bowery, became something we call in Germany "Gesamtkunstwerk" (total work of art).

I don`t know the artists who have expressed themselves on Bowery 190 but I recognize some of their pieces from other places in Manhattan. It seems the Germania building works as a kind of business card of the New York street art scene.

I guess the artists don`t get paid for their work there, but they can use the building to make their work more known and to expand their reputations.

I am not the only admirer and reporter of those works of course. On the internet you can find  other reports (lostnewyorkcity tumblr  satanslaundromat) including some of the older incarnations of the street art at Bowery 190.


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