Street Art Pilot Comes To New York's Never-Ending Scaffolding and Protective Construction Structures

 Artist Todd Gray’s Pop Art–inspired mural at the World Trade Center site. Photo courtesy of Silverstein Properties.

Artist Todd Gray’s Pop Art–inspired mural at the World Trade Center site. Photo courtesy of Silverstein Properties.

In a moment of utter foolery, I once asked myself if I could live in New York and walk my neighborhood just one month without dealing with the pervasive scaffolding and protective construction structures that litter the city with boring, nondescript ugliness.

There are over 300 miles of construction fences and sidewalk sheds across the city, but New York City construction codes currently prohibit anyone from posting on them, writes artNet News.

Think again. What if all those ugly construction-related walls could be repurposed as canvasses for public art, a showcase for NYC’s world class artists? This is the vision of City Canvas, the latest program from the New York City of Cultural Affairs, in collaboration with the Department of Buildings and the Office of the Mayor.

“Sidewalk sheds are unattractive, but they keep us safe,” said buildings commissioner Rick D. Chandler, PE, in a statement. “We’re proud to work with our partner agencies on this innovative program. If anyone can bring some love to the sidewalk sheds New Yorkers love to hate, it’s our city’s artists.”

The program is “designed to improve the city’s visual landscape, while giving artists and organizations opportunities to bring their work to public space,” according to the announcement. Selected applicants will be able to commission artists to create designs to be installed at city-owned buildings, sidewalks, and streets throughout the five boroughs.

The program isn’t limited to street artists, but proposals must be site-specific and preferably feature artists or artworks with some sort of connection to the neighborhood in which the work would be seen.

 Monika Bravo,  Breathing Wall  on a New York City construction site. Photo courtesy of the artist via NYC Department of Cultural Affairs.

Monika Bravo, Breathing Wall on a New York City construction site. Photo courtesy of the artist via NYC Department of Cultural Affairs.