What will Become of the Red Square Sidewalk Art?
The following guest post was written by longtime East Villager Abdiel Munoz.
For the nearly twenty years I’ve lived in the East Village, the strip that covers the north side of Houston between Avenues A and B outside the residence formerly known as Red Square has been a main walkway for the residents of this community and its numerous visitors. Underfoot is something worth saving.
The sidewalk in front of 250 East Houston still features the “One Line” artwork by sculptor Ken Hiratsuka, embedded in the concrete in 1980s. It’s a colorful, geometrically winding path that runs the length of the block. While the piece has faded throughout the intervening years, to this day it is followed up and down by children on their way to school or home, who are curiously attracted to the design. Area youth often seem intrigued and naturally gravitate to its zigzagging road. In fact, I find it amazing that they have an appreciation for it, as most adult passersby appear not to notice it.
As seems to be the case with the new owners of 250 East Houston (i.e. Dermot Realty paid $100 million in summer 2016). The artwork might soon disappear under the ongoing renovations, headed the same way as the soul and quirkiness of Red Square. Instead replaced with a more luxury-oriented, generic design, appealing to the influx of more affluent renters. When asked about the fate of this work, a representative from Dermot Realty confirmed that it probably won’t last, but that he would present my proposal for keeping it to the so-called decision-makers within the company.
The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative also seemed eager to save Hiratsuka’s labor.
In the end, the pathway is a link to the past that should be restored, so that it can be enjoyed and appreciated by a whole new generation.