Let's discover new york, its atmosphere and feelings through the first FatCap Soho Report.
Article and photos by Mark Simkhayev for the FatCap Team. This article is the first of a FatCap series called "Soho report". Let's share NYC street art life. We love NYC.
What is the narrative that embodies the landscape of New York?
In places where trees cannot grow, there is a natural phenomenon of paint and paper sprawling over textures of brick walls, clinging to survive, representing life in a modern world - an amalgamation of things that humans have to endure, think about, the problems we have to solve, the answers, and those feelings of humanity - love, romance, happiness, freedom; the abundance of life representing itself on New York City walls through graffiti is, for most passerby's, as casual an experience as seeing a tree in Central Park. But our city has its moments where life comes out of its own skin and the inhabitants can do nothing but take in the fireworks of culture. And what happens when the fireworks go off? A child's fate glistens with inspiration; a commuter's day is transformed; a property owner is, for the first time, proud to be vandalized.
When these feelings happen there is no sound, there is no bang. We don't hear of them because, perhaps, they're too abstract for anecdotes. Where they fail to be mentioned, they are felt in the satisfaction of street painters - the feeling one has knowing an image, or a writing on the wall is participating in our magnificent, constantly shifting culture.
Some moments do provide us with stories. My wandering around SoHo supplied me with this one :
On a saturday afternoon on Crosby Street last summer I witnessed a painter approach a blank wall. He began putting his stencil up, engaging the curiosity of those around him. At some point, just before he began to spray, two small children no older than 5 came up to this painter (their mother close by) and tugged on his jacket. He kneeled down and spoke with them for a moment. After which he proceeded to paint, with the two children now helping him. Just then, a police officer walks by. A small crowd has already taken interest to this painter. Some realize the painting is not legal. The painter stops spraying in anticipation of the officer’s reaction. The police officer, enjoying his day, smiles naively and continues walking. The painter and the two children go back to their task and finish spraying. When the work was complete, I approached the painter and asked him what it was the children had said to him. This is what he told me:
The little girl asks :
- Hey, what are you doing?
- I am drawing a man on this wall.
The other girl asks :
- So that every time you walk by this wall, you can see something beautiful.
She looked at her sister and then said to me :
- Wow! You're cool.
I laughed and said :
- Well, thank you. You’re cool too.
Then she asks me something I thought was amazing. She said, "Can we help?"
I replied in the only way that felt natural. "I would love it if you would help me."
I asked their mother if it was OK, and then the two girls helped me put up a piece of graffiti in broad daylight.
For the few people who saw what had happened around that wall over the course of a few moments, it was an experience to walk away with - an affirmed perspective that SoHo is alive and breathing with art. And while this story does not generalize the massive interaction happening between the people of New York and their environment, it does offer a glimpse into the kinds of things that happen around the city at every moment of the day. There is always something new that pops up. In fact every night and day a new layer is created on top of this city - layers of writing, of names, pictures, paintings, paper, sometimes intelligible, sometimes ambiguous, but always expressive of who New York City is on that day - older since the last sunset, newer at the moment of sunrise.