By Melissa Whitworth
Nick Walker, the renowned British graffiti artist, painted “The Morning After New York” one night in October 2008 on the side of a building in the East Village.
“The image is an extreme twist on the saying ‘paint the town red’ and part of a series of works called ‘The Morning After’ where a vandal in a bowler hat takes a moment to admire his work from the previous night,” he tells me.
Before the Cooper Square Hotel
Speaking of 35 Cooper Square… the building, on the far left in the photo below, is the sole survivor here between Fifth Street and Sixth Street… the photo by rollingrck (via Flickr) was taken on Dec. 12, 2004 …
It’s an all too common story in New York; a beloved bar or restaurant can’t make the rent – see Max Fish on the Lower East Side whose owner was profiled in the New Yorker last week – and an icon’s gone. Or an old pre-war building is replaced with an anonymous glass high-rise in the blink of an eye. Manhattan landlords are never sentimental: go away on holiday for two weeks and you’ll find your local deli has been replaced by a Marc Jacobs store and all your neighbours have moved out.
Walker’s mural sits on the north side of 35 Cooper Square (which has been sold to developers for $8.5million), in an area that has always attracted art and literary types. Local residents are furious that the art work will be meeting death at the hands of a wrecking ball within the next two weeks.
The Bowery Alliance of Neighbours has been fighting tooth and nail to save the historic building, which was the first of four houses built by Nicholas Stuyvesant in the 1800s.
Walker is an artist in the mould of Banksy. He’s gone from graffiti-ing on the streets to being sold at auctions at Bonhams. In 2008, his “Moona Lisa” sold for 10 times its estimated price. Stanley Kubrick commissioned him to to recreate the heavily graffiti-ed areas of New York for Eyes Wide Shut. Walker’s “Vandal” character, an artist disguised as a “quintessential English gentleman in order to get away with artistic vandalism”, was featured in a Black Eyed Peas video.
Walker is stoic in the face of destruction: “It was good to have a painting up on a building with such an artistic history. I take my [bowler] hat off to the Bowery Alliance for fighting to protect it this far,” he says.
After the Cooper Square Hotel…