The City’s Battle to Keep One Artist from Reaching the Allen Bathhouse
One street artist remains a thorn in the Lower East Side of the city.
Parks Department claimed the chain-link enclosure installed last week was a “safety mechanism” to protect spillover of art and belongings into traffic. But the reality appears opposite; locked to keep the transgender street artist at bay. Including a bold red sign proclaiming the area as a “danger.”
No sooner did the fence go up than the reactionary art begin. The perimeter is now covered with randomness and biting messaging. Random scrawls like “C U Never” on a discarded door or “LOL” painted below the Parks’ sign that reads, “this area is under surveillance.”
The long-dormant Allen Street bathhouse itself – erected as a bathroom for Second Avenue El passengers in the 1930s – has been a target of taggers and graffiti artists for years. Along came Nadja, whose work struck a chord with the community, and her presence sparked altercations with Parks, police, and Sanitation.
It’s still worth noting that the city has back-burner plans (dating back to at least 2016) to repurpose this structure into a neighborhood concession. Upsilon Ventures, a company that operates restaurants and event spaces in public areas across the city, reportedly signed a twenty-year lease in 2019 to convert the dilapidated comfort station into a food service facility.