The Struggle to Reinstate Jim Power’s Iconic ‘Mosaic Trail’ in Newly Configured Astor Place

Posted on: February 9th, 2016 at 9:22 am by
Photo: Destiny Mata

Photo: Destiny Mata

With the Astor Place redesign entering its final phase of development, the famed “Mosaic Trail” is also poised for its comeback. The plans are to re-incorporate Jim Power’s ten existing light poles into the new design as decorative installations (i.e. not powered). But the preservation process carries its own complications.

You’ll recall that the tiled light poles dotting the area were uprooted in 2014 to make way for the $16 million capital works project still underway. At the time of removal, the DOT assured Power and the public that these design elements would remain stored in a Queens warehouse and reinstated once the area is ready. Shortly thereafter, the artist reportedly became enraged, and began putting up signs of protest around the neighborhood. He even dismantled some of the Astor Place pieces as a “preemptive strike against the city.”

All along, though, a group of friends and supporters that counts City Lore, the Village Alliance, Bob Holman (Bowery Poetry) and Clayton Patterson in its ranks, together donated time and mental power to ensure that the artistic legacy of Jim Power remains intact at this historic crossroads. Part of that strategy is quelling the concerns of the artist himself (a disabled Vietnam veteran). In particular, he’s not too happy about having – in his own words – “another mosaic artist to repair my work.” And worried that the stored mosaics might get ruined.

Mosaic Man paid tribute to Bowery Boogie and other local press, March 2012

Mosaic Man paid tribute to Bowery Boogie and other local press, March 2012

Said artist tapped to repair those poles in need is Arab-American mosaic specialist Haifa Bint-Kadi, vetted and chosen by City Lore.

In working with the city, his aforementioned allies reportedly secured an agreement that guarantees Power is paid, as well as Bint-Kadi. There is also talk that Power would decorate planters, but one step at a time.

“This work [we’ve done] is for the community, what is left of it,” Clayton Patterson says. “We are working to preserve a little of what used to be here, and Jim’s poles represents community – the Creative Village.”

Technically, this world-renowned art is guerrilla. It wasn’t legal when glued in the first place, and everything about it is city property. So, his supporters are happy the city is playing ball at all…

Recent Stories

How to Snitch on Building Owners for Not Shoveling the Snow

After snowstorms, many building owners are guilty of neglecting the sidewalk cleanup. Some are late to it, and others just ignore altogether. Some are even chronic offenders; you know who they are if you’ve walked the Lower East Side streets enough. Here are the rules for snow or ice cleanup. Landlords basically have a four-hour […]

Vacate Order Partially Lifted After 85 Bowery Staircase Replaced

Rehabilitation of 85 Bowery hit a snag this week after workers discovered asbestos while replacing the unstable staircase. Presence of the carcinogen on the third and fourth floors means that the timetable to completion is now delayed. But the staircase is now complete, and the Department of Buildings acted in kind. The full vacate order […]

Gino Sorbillo Ditches Mulberry Street After One Year in Little Italy

Gino Sorbillo’s flagship pizzeria on the Bowery basks in the glow of the limelight – Mayor de Blasio was there for the opening – but it was actually predated several months by his Zia Esterina concept in Little Italy. Named for Sorbillo’s aunt, this location featured pizza fritta and fried calzone, and seemed like a […]

Breaking: Person Struck by Subway at East Broadway [Updated]

Shortly after 12pm, a man walking through the tunnel at the East Broadway station was struck by a northbound train. Emergency personnel responded, and quickly shut off electricity to the station to extricate the 31-year-old victim from the tracks. The man was carted away on a stretcher and taken to Bellevue Hospital with a deep cut […]

Clayton’s Corner: Of Generations and Gentrification [PHOTOS]

As the unrelenting winds of the international corporate gentrification keeps eroding away the deep, rich, soil of our culture, it also disposes of “neighborhood” and “community.” It affects both collective memory and history. For example: changing the name of PS 122 into Performance Space New York obliterates the connection to the previous 30-year history. Another […]