Bowery Street Art Too Provocative for IDEAS CITY?

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The architect of the Bowery Mission John Young of Cryptome was invited by its director Matt Krivich in March to display an art work for  the institution as part of The New Museum‘s just concluded IDEAS CITY street festival. Cryptome was restoring the mission’s underground vaults at the time and in August of 2012 put up a wall drawing by Deborah Natsios, a principal of the firm, on the street front scaffolding called Sidewalk Vaults. This original rendering was an illusion to the long history of the vaults as an important structural element of the Bowery, the city’s oldest thoroughfare. Natsios agreed to create a work and produced a series of eight panels in the style of Sidewalk Vaults that she called Partywall. This work was meant to question the relationship between the Mission and its neighbor the New Museum and the rapidly changing character of the Bowery.

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The drawings, Natsios claims, were created, “in good faith (and) received a favorable response from the director, in his invitation to partner with the Bowery Mission during StreetFest.” However the panels, it was discovered by the artists, were “taken down within 24 hours (May 2) after we were advised by the Mission of pressure from the New Museum.” The director of the Mission Bowery would not comment on this story and for its part a spokesman for the New Museum claims, “the posters were not removed by the New Museum, it was the choice of the Bowery Mission. The Mission and New Museum continue to maintain a close neighborly relationship (and worked together on IDEAS CITY and other projects).” The original work by Natsios can still be seen at 229 Bowery but its a shame the other eight were not viewable during the festival.

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