Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lora Deli Graffiti


Alphabet City has lost a long-standing piece of graffiti, what AOL News' Bill Morris calls "an exuberant 60-foot-long, 10-foot-tall mural celebrating street life, female beauty, tropical sunsets, the Puerto Rican flag and Al Sharpton."

It was on the corner of Avenue D and Fifth Street, on the side of the Lora Deli & Supermarket, and it had been there for a decade.

from Addisko's flickr

"Depending on your point of view," writes Morris, "New York City's 'quality of life' had just improved a notch, or the city had become a little bit more faceless and bland."

Photographers Jim and Karla Murray, authors of Broken Windows: Graffiti NYC, agree with the latter sentiment. Said Karla, "That wall (on the Lora Deli) beautified the neighborhood. It's free art in a neighborhood where a lot of people can't afford to go to a museum. You're taking away the flavor of the neighborhood and putting up a gray wall. And it'll probably get covered over with tags -- the kind of graffiti nobody wants."

Google Maps

It still lives, for now, in Google Maps' street view, partially obscured by a delivery truck from Fernando's Bakery. But in non-virtual reality, it's nothing more than a long, dull wall of gray brick.

Of course, we're seeing this trend all over town, in the buffing of the Roxy graffiti and Revs/Cost High Line pieces, and in the institutionalization of the Houston Wall.

Now the white-washing has come as far as Avenue D.

photo: Bill Morris

Said the Times in 2005, "The frenetic about-face that transformed Alphabet City from a drug-infested no man's land to the epicenter of downtown cool hasn't quite made it to Avenue D, and some predict it never will." But as Grieve has pointed out, Avenue D is fast getting glassed and sold off piece by piece.

The erasure of the Lora Deli graffiti is just more evidence that Avenue D has been targeted by the powers that be.


Kwana said...

I get a lump in my throat.

Len said...

Wow... Somehow I am not surprised that this beautiful piece as been lost to the abyss of government driven gentrification.

Graffiti art makes a space a place, gives the so often voiceless a voice, and creates a liveliness that will never exist in manufactured, and excessively refined urban spaces.

So much of my time in NYC was spent wandering the streets just taking in the many incredible examples of graffiti art. At the time that I was there, Australia had only just started to embrace graffiti art as a legitimate form of expression, and to see a city full of huge pieces which had emerged organically, without the permit process we have here, was truly inspiring.

This piece was a stand out, and I'll certainly miss seeing it when I am over next.

EV Grieve said...

The city is really on a cleaning/whitewashing campaign of late. The Verizon Building on 13th Street and Second Avenue, for instance. I started taking photos of all the street art in the neighborhood to help remember... the roll-down gates are next.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see this.

Vandalism is not wanted. Its the same as breaking windows or littering. It lowers property values and is a marker for larger crimes.

You want to express your art? Buy a gallery space and draw in a notebook.

Melanie said...

What a pity. I found another great Graffiti in the hood in a fenced yard which I will post later.I love the graffitti art--maybe then the graffitti art will become main-stream?????in galleries and such...still we need it here--it beautifies the place and makes it more interesting. I still would like to know what the tags mean. I love the "hood".

Anonymous said...

Leave the art, and concentrate on pest control-I've noticed a lot more rats recently.

Laura Goggin Photography said...

Also, if this kind of art decreases property values and the attractiveness of a neighborhood, someone should tell the Cooper Square Hotel.

Anonymous said...

Was this cleaning mandated by the city or done by the property owner?

Street art is ephemeral, and it's possible that something new will come in its place unless the owner is dead-set against it.

Also, check out this article in the Times about street art in Caracas.

VH McKenzie said...

to Anonymous no. 1 -- you would call that beautiful mural "vandalism" ?

Sorry for you that you can't distinguish between skilled muralists and sloppy taggers. It was no Diego Rivera but it was colorful, positive and clearly well planned and executed. I imagine its sheer appeal kept that wall from being turned into a real eyesore of vandalism.

Now, painted battleship gray, it will be a fresh canvas for the vandals you fear. It will no doubt be tagged to death and then repainted and then re-tagged then re-painted ad nauseum.


Anonymous said...

On my 30th birthday on August 6th 1988 we were coming home from a rare treat, a fancy dinner at Indochine, and suddenly driving down E 4th st between A & B in a taxi we were surrounded by marchers carrying lit torches. It was the night of the Tompkins Square riot. Funny thing is though we were not scared, we got out of the cab and watched as a giant bonfire was lit at the intersection of 4th and B, it burned a big hole into the tar on the road that left a scar for a long time.
Don't know why I just decided to share that with you now but it all came back to me just looking at that mural for some reason, the sound of salsa on the hot summer nights and the beautiful Puerto Rican boys. Sigh......

Jeremiah Moss said...

not sure if it was the city or not, but the city just got the ability to whitewash whatever they want, without the business/home owner's permission. so...we will be seeing more of this.

Unknown said...

Jeremiah, Thanks for your mention of my article on aolnews.com about the eradication of the Lora Deli graffiti mural. There has been an interesting development. I've got a picture if you're interested. Best, Bill Morris

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks Bill. what's the development? you can send stuff to my email at jeremoss (at) yahoo (dot com).

Anonymous said...

how is it legal for them to whitewash businesses without even asking the property owner?