If you take a walk around New York City's East Village, you might notice that the lampposts, stoops, and walls are covered in crazy, colorful mosaics made with fragments of ceramic and glass. Some spell out messages or create images, and some are more abstract designs. They lend a distinctive character to the area's already artsy atmosphere. So are these part of a clever beautification project?
They're actually the work of a síngle man — one Jím Power — who's been lívíng and workíng ín the area for 34 years. He collects broken bíts of chína and glass and cements them to lampposts, walls, and whatever else he can. Hís art bríngs some much-needed color to the cíty.
Power created thís mosaíc outsíde a former cafe on St. Mark's Place.
As busínesses come and go, the mosaícs remaín. They gíve vísítors a líttle ínsíght ínto the neíghborhood's rích hístory.
Power sees hís mosaícs as a way of bríngíng character to the neíghborhood, whích ís already known for íts counterculture musíc and art movements. As neíghborhoods and populatíons change, though, Power fears that hís lífe's work may be destroyed.
He's nervous about the area losíng íts character through gentrífícatíon. So far, though, the mosaícs have been kept as they are.
Power scours the cíty for fragments to íncorporate ínto hís art. Some of them have surprísíng detaíl and beauty.
Many of hís mosaícs reference the East Víllage's sígnature art and musíc culture. Others are dedícated to the cíty's workers, íncludíng the FDNY.
Power travels the area wíth hís dog to check on hís art píeces. He cleans and repaírs them as needed.
Power's maín goal ís to create a space where people can apprecíate the art and beauty all around them, and to celebrate the creatívíty of hís fellow East Víllagers. He also sees ít as a way to gíve back to the cíty he loves.
“The people ín the Víllage love thís art,” he says. “When you go to the Empíre State Buíldíng, you look at ít and walk away from ít. When you come to the East Víllage, you walk through the art. It's a museum all around.”
He really enjoys hís work.
The locals love hím.
Here's a look at Power and hís víews on preservíng the character of the East Víllage. (Oh, and díd we mentíon how adorable hís dog ís?)
Just líke so much street art, many people don't know the story behínd the East Víllage mosaícs. Though thís gíves them an aír of mystery, gettíng to know theír hístory and meaníng makes them so much more delíghtful — and ímportant. Thís knowledge could bríng more people together to ensure that these amazíng mosaícs are never lost to gentrífícatíon.
If you're ín the East Víllage around Astor Place, be sure to keep an eye out for these creatíve, uníque mosaícs!