Sprucing Up The Streets with “Murals Around New York”

“Saints of the Lower East Side” by Tom Sanford at 70 East 4th St. Photo: Udom Surangsophon (www.udomfoto.com)

If you’ve noticed an abundance of street art embellishing the Lower East Side lately, it’s due in part to the outdoor project-based collective Murals Around New York (MaNY). MaNY was established in 2010, when a few like-minded artists and curators recognized how difficult it has become to find mural space in Manhattan, “unless you’re a superstar like Shepard Fairey or JR and are dealing with a giant sponsor,” says Keith Schweitzer, one of MaNY’s more visible “front men.”

The group realized approaching property owners with requests to paint their exterior walls was a lot easier to do under the auspices of an organized entity than as an individual artist.

At the time, Schweitzer had been working with No Longer Empty, an organization that takes over vacant or abandoned retail space for pop-up art exhibitions, and had developed strong connections to an international community of artists through them.  He jumped in as a curator/negotiator for MaNY and organized a large group show at 145 Ludlow St., which is now TimeShare Backyard.