The Smart List is a monthly list of multi-media recommendations on everything design, curated by Interwoven Design. At Interwoven we always have our eyes open for unexpected design moments as we make our way around New York City. Here are some of our favorite spots to appreciate public art. Take a tour of some of the best graffiti and street art in NYC, with featured work ranging from Harlem to Chinatown.
Crack is Wack by Keith Haring
East Harlem E. 128th St. and Harlem River Drive
Throughout his career as a street artist in the 1980s Haring dedicated time to public works, many of which held social messages. Crack is Wack is a mural inspired by the effects of the crack epidemic on New York City. Though it was originally unsanctioned it was later placed under the jurisdiction of the city.
Monkey Bar, Hotel Elysee
60 E. 54th St.
Monkey Bar opened inside the Hotel Elysee in the late 1930s. It was originally a classic piano bar but was christened ‘Monkey Bar’ in the 50s when caricaturist Charlie Wala hand painted murals of monkeys on all of the walls. The impressive history of the bar includes such regulars as Babe Ruth, Ava Gardner, and Tennessee Williams.
Hammer Boy by Banksy
Broadway & W. 79th St.
British street artist Banksy is known for his graffiti street art all over the world. He incorporates everyday objects in the streetscape into his compositions, creating playful and provocative vignettes. Hammer Boy is an ideal example of this technique, the silhouette of a young child swings a sledgehammer at the fire hydrant installed in the street.
Graffiti Hall of Fame
East Harlem 1587 Madison Ave.
Harlem community leader Ray “Sting Ray” Rodriguez established the walls of the Jackie Robinson Educational Complex’s schoolyard as the Graffiti Hall of Fame, home to outstanding street art for more than 30 years. The motto of the schoolyard is “Strictly Kings or Better,” and the pieces on display are of the highest quality.
Bushwick St. Nicholas Ave.
The Bushwick Collective is a graffiti and street art project created by artists from all over the world. They are especially known for their annual block party in August, at which thousands come together for food, dancing, and incredible street art.
Rice Terraces by Dasic Fernandez
Rice Terraces is a vibrant work of street art that is actually on the streets themselves, brightening Chinatown Manhattan’s Open Street and encouraging community engagement. The colorful layers are inspired by Chinese rice cultivation terraces, bringing a classic element of the Chinese landscape into the urban environment.