Construction Containers Become Canvases, With The City’s Help

artJoyce Manalo

Last month, Fourth Arts Block, a nonprofit public arts organization, approached the New York City Department of Design & Construction about an art project. They wanted to transform a row of drab storage containers that had been parked on 4th Street between Bowery and Second Avenue for about two years – a byproduct of water main work that was expected to go on for yet another year. The group got city approval on September 12th, and today, the containers boast vivid street art.

containerJoyce Manalo The containers in their original state.

Skullphone, an artist based in Los Angeles, was the first one contacted, since his trademark skull talking on a cellphone already graced one of the containers. “We weren’t going to paint over it,” said FABnyc’s in-house curator, Joyce Manalo.

Along with No Longer Empty’s co-founder Keith Schweitzer, Ms. Manalo recruited more artists: QuelBeast’s portrait went up on Wednesday, and Royce Bannon was slated to put his up tonight. Another artist, infinity, created a piece described as a “mathematic, chemical equation composition.”

When asked what the area’s construction workers thought of all this, Ms. Manalo replied, “They told me they like the work. It’s something they can admire while they’re digging dirt.”

Correction: September 27, 2011

A previous version of this blog post stated incorrectly that No Longer Empty approached the city about the project. It was actually Fourth Arts Block. That version also incorrectly described QuelBeast’s piece as a self-portrait, and mistakenly stated that “mathematic, chemical equation composition” was the title of infinity’s piece, rather than the artist’s description of it.