I feel I should mention the amazing goings on at 11 Spring Street in the Nolita area of Manhattan. The building, long a repository, if not a magnet, for street art will be converted into condos. So, you think, yet another story of gentrification erasing out illegal expression (or alternately another victory of generic neighborhood cleanup depending on your viewpoint)...
Well, that's where the situation becomes interesting. The developers of the property, a massive and long-abandoned horse stables turned icehouse, have joined forces with the Wooster Collective to have internationally famous street artists decorate the facade, culminating in a huge party in December
have so far contributed works and one can only imagine who will drop by next. As the Wooster Collective website
"Watch this space - literally.
If you're an artist who we've featured on the Wooster website in the last 5 years and you're coming through Manhattan in the next six week, drop us a note.
And if you're in New York, don't make any plans for the second week in December ;)"
As "D" summarizes in his comments at Gothamist:
"There's a big vacant building on which people started to put up unauthorized art (or whatever), the owners responded by saying, "hey, let's get an artists' collective to curate the way the building is decorated so it has some cohesiveness and flow (and so that some established artists are inspired to contribute), the artists agree to abide by a deadline, it's all free (!!), there's gonna be a big party at the end, and everyone gets along?? No divisiveness? No bitterness? No unreasonable squattters [sic] demanding to stay rent free or artists demanding that the art be preserved forever? No black-hearted landlords crushing the art with wrecking balls?
No government intervention or regulation?
this is too good to be true."
I believe the art will be removed during the renovation next year, but given the temporal nature of the form I believe this offers a wonderful paradigm for cities with numerous abandoned buildings and buildings stuck "in progress." Here in St. Louis Chivvis Development did something similar (albeit with artists of much less renown) on several buildings it owns at Chouteaus Landing on S. Fourth. I think such "legal walls" offer an opportunity to enhance the visual density of the city, celebrate diversity, and at least partially redeem the gaps (or more specifically dents I suppose) left in the urban fabric by abandonments.
Here's to hoping we see much more of this phenomena both locally and nationally!