Clayton’s Corner: What is the True ‘Lower East Side Story’ Behind the Mural?

Posted on: June 20th, 2014 at 11:09 am by

This image has been archived or removed.

Artist Garrett Wasserman, Photo: Clayton Patterson

The last mural beside my front door on Essex Street was done by local Hispanic artist Marty Mar, and was supposed to remain in this location. This relatively new artist pictured above – Garrett Wasserman (aka “People”) – was supposed to paint a mural in one of the smaller areas.

“Lower East Side Story” is a piece that obviously claims to represent the neighborhood. Well, I recently came out my front door and saw the artist working. I asked if I could take a photo of him posing with the mural. He told me he would only do it for money. I was like, What!?  Wow, this new world we are living in … and he is THE NEW ARTIST who represents my area of the LES?

To be honest, Wasserman probably does not mean to be an asshole – he just doesn’t get it. He probably thinks his mural is better than Marty Mar’s, yet without having any understanding of local history or how few opportunities are out there for those who grew up in the neighborhood. People loved the predecessor piece. It represented community. Other than Chico and Tats Cru (and sometimes Lee Quinones), what other local Hispanics have murals down here? Especially from my block between Houston and Stanton.

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“Lower East Side Story” on Essex St., Photo: Clayton Patterson

Gone are the socially/historically relevant murals- the struggling immigrants- anti-drugs- RIP- significant musicians- messages relevant the old communities values- now switched to light and fun – tourists- yuppie lifestyles.. and so on.

For us, and those like us, the piece feels a little too much like the Lower East Side BID at work. But for the local youth growing up down here there really is less and less. Imagine if you’re from the projects, born and raised, could you really relate to this? There isn’t much out there to relate to as it is.

Meanwhile, the “Lower East Side Story” mural is just about a week old and taggers continue to violate Wasserman’s work. The artist – I am assuming the artist – comes back to fix up the piece after each incident.

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