Last week, we looked at the "Bushwick Five Points," a.k.a., the Bushwick Collective, a street art haven that's sprouted at the intersection of Troutman Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, where a growing number of artists have painted elaborate murals. Yesterday the NY Times took a closer look at the street art destination and its curator Joe Ficalora.
According to the Times, "Joseph’s father, Ignazio Ficalora, was murdered on these streets in 1991. He was knifed for his wallet and a worthless chain around his neck when his son was only 12." Last year, his mother died after a battling a brain tumor for four years.
Ficarola explained, "What was the point of life then? You come down this block, you see graffiti on the walls, you remember all bad memories. I turn another corner, I see where my dad was murdered. I turn another corner, I have memories of my mom. There was nothing left for me to want." (He told Street Art NYC, 'I was moved to transform the cold industrial aura of this area into something that would revive me and provide the artists with a space to showcase their talents. I am trying to create an environment that I couldn’t get as a child.') Ficalora has managed to get walls from numerous businesses and says he has "a lot of walls in my back pocket."
The expanding installation has attracted a growing number of admirers who travel to Bushwick to take in the work. Australian street artist The Yok told the Times, "There’s nowhere to paint in Manhattan, so the Bushwick Collective gives all those people that come a spot to be up in New York, which is kind of everyone’s dream" while "A woman with a face tattoo and two toddlers in tow paused in front of one mural. 'All this fantastic art keeps popping up,' she said, spinning her head to scan the walls. 'I love it.'"
Gothamist's resident street art expert, Jake Dobkin, says, "I like many of the pieces around the intersection of St. Nicholas and Jefferson—although some artists I know feel like it's starting to look too much like a poster store, with the pieces so close together. It's always like that at these spots: There are great pieces, but you lose the context—like seeing a lone Swoon piece in the middle of a neighborhood with no other art."
He points out, "The artists like having a legal spot to paint, and it's like all the kitchen supplies stores on Bowery—when you cluster together you can generate more foot traffic. And it can be fun to paint collaborations with other artists. The best street art really considers its context—like Banksy pieces that make use of the stuff already on the street. A legal spot like this has less opportunities for that kind of thoughtfulness. But it does make it easier for fans to see a bunch of art all in one place, and that's important for learning about the scene. Especially with Five Pointz getting razed, you need a spot like this."
Also, for those taking advantage of the beautiful weather to check out more street art, Dobkin suggests, "There are a few other good spots right by there, too- at Gardner and Johnson there's the Robots Will Kill buildings, and at Meserole and Waterbury there's another legal spot with a lot of art."