Why You Won’t See a Basquiat Tribute Mural at the Dry Dock Pool this Summer

Posted on: March 29th, 2019 at 5:06 am by

Photo: Adrian Wilson

When the Dry Dock Pool on East 10th Street reopens this summer, it’ll do so with a new sheen and plenty of fanfare.

But it won’t carry any homage to Jean-Michel Basquiat.

It was here, on the brick perimeter wall, that Basquiat was filmed nearly forty years ago while writing “Origin of Cotton” for the film Downtown 81.

To honor that legacy, and mark the thirtieth anniversary of the artist’s death, artist Adrian Wilson had approached the Parks Department last July to install a tribute mural on the outside wall. It was conceived as a joint artistic effort between longtime Basquiat collaborator, and SAMO co-creator, Al Diaz, who grew up nearby in the Jacob Riis housing project.

However, the city wasn’t interested, having stated that it would “compromise the current condition of the building, which is part of a larger agency-wide initiative to remove all paint from out brick structures.” So, the duo did the next best thing; they walked down to Basquiat’s five-year workspace and home at 57 Great Jones Street, and put up a piece there instead. It eventually morphed into the (temporary) Same Old Gallery.

Fast forward to last week. Following our report that the Dry Dock would be rehabilitated as part of the city’s “Cool Pools” initiative, Wilson again pitched the idea, but for the piece to live poolside instead.

Photo: Google Maps

A quick denial.

“The Cool Pools initiative utilizes designs that have gone through a lengthy review process and must remain uniform across the city,” a Parks spokesperson responded to the application. “It is a parks policy that we do not permit murals that are tributes or memorials to individuals.”

That didn’t sit well with Wilson, though, who argues that public parks have plenty of such honors.

“There are literally hundreds of individuals recognized with statues or plaques across NYC parks, and they have memorial benches, so [this decision was] complete BS,” he says.

“It would be the right thing for them to let us do a tribute to the best known and highest selling New York born artist.”

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