Bowery Street Art Too Provocative for IDEAS CITY?

Monday, May 6, 2013


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.


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.

5 Responses to “Bowery Street Art Too Provocative for IDEAS CITY?”

  1. Cryptome says:

    Donors and supporters of the New Museum boldly displayed at its entrance could foster the dialogue with Bowery Mission and other advocates to aid not exploit the Bowery area, where some of them were once lumped with the “undesirables.” The recent National Register report on the Bowery comprehensively describes its diverse heritage for avoiding single-track High Line high art profiteering.

  2. boweryboy says:

    Probably better off that this terrific piece was not part of Ideas City – what a bad idea. Half what is was 2 years ago, and twice as lame. This festival is one of the worst events that the New Museum has ever put on. They should stick to renting out their space for highend invitation-only events, and leave fixing what’s wrong with the world in their eyes to others.

  3. Mahometan & Celestial, LLC says:

    Disappointing, but unsurprising. Colonialism, after all, has been a dirty word since at least the middle of the last century, the continued success of imperialism today – whether the international or intra-urban sort – requires that we never be heard (or, as in this instance, seen) to call it by name.

  4. Cryptome says:

    New York’s future is being shaped by a Faustian pact between private developers and not-for-profit charities — William Menking. #newmuseum #bowerymission

  5. Gary says:

    Allusion…..not illusion.

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