New York City is riddled with underutilized spaces, from vacant lots to unending construction zones. FABnyc sees these spaces as an opportunity to infuse some art into our urban landscape. Their latest ArtUp program commissioned three artists to turn a drab alleyway into an innovative artwalk, and they hope to bring more projects like this to sites around New York in the coming year.
Inspired by the hidden potential of drab scaffolding and unused lots around New York City, the ArtUp program was started in 2008 with Joyce Manalo of ArtForward. With an array of partners, ArtUp has been able to transform these bland spaces with murals, banners and painted walkways, while also supporting New York’s healthy art scene. The ArtUp program has expanded to incorporate the FAB Café, Artist Alley, and other spaces that help enliven the community.
Artist Alley is located in the East Village on Extra Place, a short block off 1st Street between Bowery and 2nd Avenue. The most recent installation, called Groundbreak, features work by British-born Brooklyn transplant, Jon Burgerman, street artist Ellis Gallagher, and Abe Lincoln Jr. Curated by Joyce Manalo and Keith Schweitzer, the artists used the concrete as their canvases, turning the sidewalk into a literal art walk. Burgerman’s signature distorted characters and landscapes brighten up the alley with its bold colors. Ellis Gallagher’s piece traces the shadows of fixtures in the alley: pipes, bicycles, and fire escapes- creating permanent shadows that are cast by streetlamps at night, a true symbol of the city. Abe Lincoln Jr’s playful characters mesh a retro comic strip style, and honor the area’s proximity to seminal punk rock palace, the former CBGB’s on Bowery.
FABnyc is now hoping to expand their ArtUp program even further. As the Lower East Side and East Village change and more buildings and streets become under construction, FABnyc hopes to continue the artistic spirit of the area by introducing even more temporary art on these sites. Their Kickstarter campaign promises a bevy of goodies, including having your portrait immortalized and drawn by Jon Burgerman in Artist Alley for donors of $3,000 or more!