The LISA Project NYC: A Street Art Booster in the Heart of New York City21 January 2021
The LISA Project; a 1901 law type association that transforms Little Italy since 2012
It all started in 2012, the founder, Wayne Randa a former actor’s agent aims to revitalize Little Italy, a neighborhood in full decline. He founds the Association and collaborates with that of the local merchants. The association provides the means to buy the paintings and he, for his part, finds artists who love this neighborhood and who are especially able to paint for free if they are provided with the paint.
Three years ago, I started to see more and more their names attached to the artists’ signatures on magnificent murals in the heart of Manhattan and also next to works that are smaller in size but just as beautiful. So I decided to conduct my little investigation and very quickly realized that this Association had transformed the walls of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, including Little Itlay, Bowery and Chinatown. It is therefore with great pleasure that I share with you a few snippets of their history and a few spots that have become unmissable thanks to their contribution.
This is how Mulberry Street, the heart of Little Italy, has become a real open-air museum in just a few years. Between every café, grocery store, restaurant,… at every corner of the door you can discover real works of art! If you have the chance to go there, I advise you to keep your eyes wide open!
The Californian artist Beau Stanton and his creations inspired by historical ornamentation and religious iconography rub shoulders with Alice Pasquini, a Roman artist who never ceases to highlight gently female faces and bodies with a brush, .
You will find there, of course, one of the famous flowers of Michael de Feo, this New York artist who has bloomed in 60 cities around the world and that the planet Street Art has renamed The Flower Guy. And if you look up a little, you will discover a series of Invader who, on family vacation in October 2019, had fun laying some mosaics very “Italian style” in the neighborhood with the complicity of The Lisa Project.
Mulberry Street conceals treasures such as the portrait of Audrey Hepburn immortalized by Tristan Eaton or the characters of Kenny Scharf. These are lovingly preserved and often even restored when the buildings undergo some transformation. Yes, when you know that these two artists are internationally recognized and that they had the honor of putting their signature on the prestigious Houston Bowery Wall, you can understand why Mulberry Street can be considered as a real museum.
When Little Italy pays tribute to the famous spot 5pointz
The Association’s project is growing and it juggles between the realization of giant commercial frescoes with charity actions; without forgetting of course the legends; those who made Street Art in New York. The most famous of them is the graffiti artist “Meres One” who managed the mythical 5 POINTZ, a disused factory in Queens, which has become the most famous graffiti spot in the world. It was destroyed in 2014 after the artworks were savagely covered in white by future real estate developers.
A stone’s throw away from Little Italy is a mini 5POINTZ that was created with the efforts of the association and Meres One; you can find a certain vibe in this very special street corner located at the corner of Broome St. and Elizabeth St. The famous light bulb heads of Meres One as well as its Blaze are enthroned above incredible creations made by local and international artists. The last time I went there it was DALeast who was doing a new work with The Lisa Project NYC.
But before that it was Vhils and his jackhammers, Felipe Pantone and his kinetic graffiti or the very funny ZROPRO (Zero Productivity) with his pigeon; who put their signatures on this street corner which is now a must in New York Street Art.
The World Mural Project: A Monumental Project to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of NYC Pride
During my last New York trip, shortly before the 1st lockdown, I see in the Bowery neighborhood that something has changed… Usually the new urban artworks at man height are rather medium sized. There while walking around I come across a huge realization by Buff Monster who has his studio in the neighborhood. A few meters further on it is a work of Solus that fills a whole section of wall… In fact it is 50 monumental walls that have been made in the previous months for and by the organization of the NYC Pride. A project called “The World Mural Project” to properly celebrate the 50th anniversary of New York Pride.
This incredible project, initiated by NYC Pride, was masterfully directed by The Lisa Project NYC and funded by New York department store Macy’s with HSBC Bank. Their goal was to highlight the experience of being LGTB+ with the hope that these paintings could initiate engaging conversations about diversity, inclusion, equality.
Unfortunately, I did not have time to go hunting for all these new works. But one of them made an impression on me. This fresco, created by the English duo Nomad clan, is a tribute to the destitute; homeless, drug addicts, gay, … who are found anonymously thrown into the mass grave of Hart Island; an island north of New York that was formerly a prisoner of war camp. Research has been going on for years to identify the bodies of these people in order to return them to their families or simply to give them back their “dignity”. This research was interrupted at the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis in New York since if you watch television you will certainly have seen images of this island where the dead of COVID-19 were buried in a hurry like the “plague victims of yesteryear”…
The Lisa Project is a very committed Association! And Street Art is not just to “make pretty” in this city that never sleeps!
Discover Street Art in the heart of Manhattan in solo or with The Lisa Project NYC?
You can go on your own to discover the magnificent, even breathtaking, works of Street Art scattered throughout the streets of Manhattan. If you couple this walk in Little Italy with my previous journey detailed in the article “One hour to discover Street Art in Manhattan”; you will have already seen a great part of the works of the South of this incredible peninsula and especially the most beautiful works realized with the help of The Lisa Project NYC. Of course you can also start hunting for the monumental frescoes of Eduardo Kobra, whose addresses I have detailed in an article entirely dedicated to him: “Eduardo Kobra and New York Street Art, a love story that begins with a simple kiss”.
And why not take a little break next to the New World Trade Center where the last construction area is covered with Street Art!
On the other hand if you speak English and you are crazy about Street Art; I warmly recommend you to take a Tour with The Lisa Project NYC. You will certainly be very lucky to have Audrey aka bytegirl24 as your guide. More than a great specialist of New York Street Art; Audrey is also a contributor to the excellent magazine SOLD Mag NY and produces very enriching podcasts with them. She knows all the artists personally, every nook and cranny of the neighborhood and will also introduce you to more underground artists, less known internationally, but who really deserve the detour! Just to name a few: Sara Erenthal, Stikman, Hektad, Praxis, Jeremy Novy, Lmnopi, RAD, OPTIMO NYC, and so many others… If the adventure tempts you, I can assure you that you won’t be bored and moreover your contribution will also help to prolong this beautiful story! To book a Tour it’s this way 😉
I hope you enjoyed this new New York ride! And if, like me, you are not ready to fly across the Atlantic, feel free to take a virtual tour of the Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn and the Welling Court Mural Project in Queens; you should enjoy it!
I end this article with a very graphic mural by Shepard Fairey carrying a message full of hope “We own the future”.
I look forward to seeing you soon for new Street Art adventures… And if you liked this new discovery, don’t hesitate to share it! I will make me please 😉
Stay Safe & Take Care