The New York City Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Art Program today announced the selection of four individual artists and one artist team from a pool of 158 applicants to beautify a nine-hundred foot pedestrian tunnel at 191st Street and Broadway in Washington Heights, Manhattan. All but one artist team lives and works in New York City and the greater New York area. Each artist or artist team will be assigned two wall segments, each measuring 200 feet in length by 8 feet in height, to transform with dynamic, colorful murals over the course of a one week period starting the week of May 11th. NYCDOT will create an attractive corridor for the thousands of pedestrians walking to and from the 191st Street 1 train station on a daily basis.
A project-specific committee of outside arts professionals selected local Washington Heights artist Andrea von Bujdoss (Queen Andrea); Bronx born and raised artist Fernando Carlo, Jr. (COPE 2) who currently resides in Hopewell Junction, NY; Queens-based artist Nick Kuszyk; Brooklyn-based artist Nelson Rivas Cekis; and Maryland-based artist team Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn. The installation of the five murals will coincide with a previously scheduled MTA weekend tunnel closure at the 191st Street 1 train station. Artists will be granted access to the tunnel over the course of a one week period, with a partial closure for prep work occurring a few days in advance of painting. The tunnel will remain accessible to the public during the partial closure.
“It may be surprising to some that a tunnel that connects Broadway to the subway is actually a street. NYCDOT recognized the need to improve this dark space so we installed lights and painted over the walls filled with tags. But the agency did not stop there. We wanted to make the long walk not only safe but attractive to the people who use the space every day,” said DOT Assistant Commissioner of Design + Art + Wayfinding, Wendy Feuer. “The DOT Art Program is working with elected officials, the community and professional, internationally recognized artists to transform the tunnel into an inviting throughway to the 1 train and destination for the neighborhood.”
“We are thrilled with the prospect of new murals by renowned local and citywide artists at the 191st Street tunnel. Their creative work will bring the beauty and enjoyment that our community has been asking for throughout the past few years. We can’t wait to see and celebrate the murals and the artists! Bravo!,” said Sandra A. Garcia-Betancourt, Executive Director & CEO, Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA).
“Collaborating with the DOT on this project is an important step in getting street artists recognition in New York City. It is my pleasure to bring my years of experience in curating and organizing art projects to the Washington Heights community,” said Alan Ket, a local street artist.
Although the tunnel connects to the MTA Subway System, it is mapped as a street and is thus owned and maintained by NYCDOT. The tunnel has undergone several renovations since its construction with the most recent renovation completed by NYCDOT in 2014. The agency continues to revitalize the tunnel with the addition of these temporary murals in the coming weeks.
NYC Department of Transportation’s Art Program
Since 2008, the DOT Art Program has installed over 200 engaging temporary art installations throughout the city. The program partners with community-based organizations and artists to present murals, sculptures, and performances on public property such as: plazas, fences, barriers, bridges, step streets and sidewalks. Projects are presented within five program tracks: Arterventions, Art Display Case, Barrier Beautification, Community Commissions, and Site to Site. For more information about the DOT Art Program, visit www.nyc.gov/dotart.
Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA)
The Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA) is a non-profit arts service organization launched in 2007 with the support of the Hispanic Federation and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone. NoMAA’s mission is to cultivate, support, and promote the works of artists and arts organizations in Northern Manhattan. Since its inception, NoMAA has implemented programs designed to strengthen the professional capacity of individual artists and community arts organizations in Washington Heights and Inwood. NoMAA has successfully partnered with local businesses and institutions to promote collaboration with artists and arts organizations in an effort to revitalize the cultural life and effect change in our communities uptown.
191st Street Pedestrian Tunnel Artists
Andrea von Bujdoss (AKA graffiti nickname “Queen Andrea”) is a New York City based fine artist, typographer, graffiti artist and graphic designer. As a New Yorker raised in the neighborhood of Soho, Manhattan, Andrea has been deeply inspired by the vibrant urban landscape from an early age. Andrea has spent 20 years perfecting her graffiti and typography skillset and she is consistently evolving her innovative graphic style and pushing her own creative boundaries. She is one of the most skilled and notable female graffiti artists in the world, possessing a highly creative and advanced style, and has also developed a reputation for her oversized typography message murals. Andrea has been featured in major art shows, solo shows, magazines, books, brand collaborations and has curated and exhibited in numerous art shows around the world.
Born in 1968 as Fernando Carlo, Jr. in New York City, Cope 2’s paintings have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in galleries and museums throughout the United States and internationally. He is a self-taught artist who is a celebrated legend contributing over 30 years to the graffiti street art culture. One of New York City’s most prolific graffiti artists, he began tagging his name in the South Bronx in 1978. He developed his style in the subways and Bronx streets creating graffiti productions throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s. He achieved international recognition for his distinctive style. In recent years, Cope2 has been commissioned by Time Magazine, Converse, Adidas among others. His work has even crossed into the virtual realm with appearances in video games such as Mark Eckos: Getting up and Rockstar Games: Grand Theft Auto IV. Today, you can catch Cope 2 in the studio painting, bringing his raw energy into abstract expressionist style masterpieces, intertwined with his trademark bubble letters and tags on canvases. Cope2 crosses between art world, mainstream and street culture alike.
Since 1999, Nick Kuszyk has been creating context informed performative interventions combining multiple disciplines including: sculpture, painting, public works, costume design, performative physical actions, behavioral studies, etc. In 2000, Kuszyk dedicated himself entirely to the “anti-commercial” brand known as the “RRobots” amassing roughly 7,000 paintings, 50 murals, a children’s book, and dozens of zines. With the RRobots’ highly refined and rapidly evolving language, Kuszyk implemented, amalgamated, referenced, criticized, distorted, appropriated, and celebrated countless formal and narrative aspects of painting, society, and human experience/existence. In more recent years, Kuszyk has expanded the scope of his studio practices through avenues that range from geometric abstract painting, narrative representational painting, and interactive sound and sculptural installations. He has painted dozens of murals around the world.
Nelson Rivas, or “Cekis,” is a self-taught painter who was born in Santiago, Chile in 1976. He became one of a handful of young artists whose work was able to transcend local communities and ignite a massive street art and graffiti culture movement in Chile in the mid 90’s. Since his early days painting murals in high school, Cekis’ work has been inspired by politics, social ideas and people. He moved to NYC in the summer of 2004. He has artistically collaborated with the Bronx Museum, Brooklyn Arts Council, The Point CCC, BRIC’s Rotunda Gallery, BOPA in Baltimore and more.
Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn are a Baltimore based artist team striving to transform public spaces into playful and vibrant experiences. They have been collaborating on large-scale murals since 2012. The all-inclusive and socially engaging nature of creating art for the public is a driving force in their art making. Their work explores themes of movement and symmetry. Inspired by bold color combinations, woven textiles, and the architectural surfaces of each environment, their dynamic paintings often curve around corners and spill onto the ground.