New York City gives me a sensation that I can only explain as the prickly feeling you get when someone is about to tell you something. You’re ready to receive the message, excited because something tells you it will be a good one.
When I arrived early on a Thursday morning, my body had no trouble adjusting to the jet lag. It also didn’t struggle with weaving itself through subways crowds or streets full of pedestrians. The only challenge: the glorious yet tiring heat.
Luckily I had a couple of sightings to keep my mind off getting lost in the muggy streets while hauling my luggage. During a stroll on the High Line with a delicious People’s Pops popsicle in hand (Strawberry Basil), I came upon this piece.
The bold style and signature tipped me off right away: it’s a piece by Eduardo Kobra, a Brazilian street artist. The mural makes its way into your field of vision when you walk the High Line. It’s a rare moment to see street art from higher up than the ground — you can almost envision yourself in the position of the artist himself. Street art, after all, is about height and perspective so seeing it from the ground sometimes doesn’t do the work enough justice.
The patterns on the piece (those tights!) are fantastic and lend a super recognizable aesthetic to Kobra’s work. He’s depicted everyone from Dalí to Einstein is this signature style. It reminds of something between a colorful quilt and an explosion of bright pixels. Covered in these distinct colors, each scene and person seems to take on a different shape.
I continued to my next adventure and my friend pointed out this Roy Lichtenstein piece in the subway station. So while onlookers watched a subway performer I snapped a photo.
The “Times Square Mural” is six feet tall and 53 feet long; amazingly, Lichtenstein completed it three years before his death. It’s got references to all kinds of cultural history, like the 1939 and 1964 world’s fairs. I am a big fan of Lichtenstein’s work but normally see his pieces at galleries or museums. Seeing one of his pieces in a public space gave it a different sort of magic, especially with a crowd standing underneath it. New York City’s past and present seemed to come together and I felt then and there that the city had a rich history I needed to know more about.
Alas, my trip was only a couple of days. But I walked away with the feeling that I would be back again. And I KNOW there is plenty more street and public art to discover.