Kim Sillen’s Artistic Homage to Immigrant Lower East Side Now Complete on Orchard Street
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Okay, so that blue paint on the extended sidewalk outside the Tenement Museum was actually the base coat of an art project. Looks familiar, right? Taking a page from Division Street, the Lower East Side BID has again commissioned local artist Kim Sillen for the second coming of “Asphalt Art.”
This time around, Sillen’s location-specific installation is, rather appropriately, a take on the age-old immigrant story. Most of the painted silhouettes are likenesses of actual immigrants to the Lower East Side, most of whom were born or lived on Orchard Street.
BID Executive Director Tim Laughlin tells us, “[The artwork is] one of many future improvements to the overall streetscape that celebrate our community’s unique history, improve the aesthetic appearance of our streets, and most importantly contribute to residential quality of life setting the stage for the continued growth and success of our local economy.”
As previously reported, this so-called neck-down was implemented as part of the Chinatown Curbside Management Study to better pedestrian safety and alleviate congestion problems in the neighborhood. It also figures into the larger landscape effort spearheaded by the BID (the maintenance partner). These revitalization plans call for the creation of a “safer more enjoyable environment” for residents, merchants, and commuters along the seven-block stretch (Division Street is not included). What that means is a controversial plaza at Broome, the introduction of forty new trees, various seating, and additional “groves” that signify an entrance onto Orchard Street (four at each intersection).