The wall on the corner of Houston and Bowery streets got its first brush with artistic fame back in 1982, when Keith Haring and Juan Dubose chose this location for a mural, said to be Haring’s first large-scale public work. Its location between SoHo and the Lower East Side meant it was passed by other artists on a daily basis.
However, that spot also made it prime advertising space, which is how it began to be used after being acquired by real estate developer Tony Goldman two years later. Luckily, Goldman was also an art aficionado, and in 2008 he handed over the wall to curator Jeffrey Deitch, who commissioned Gotham Scenic to recreate the Haring mural in honor of what would have been the artist’s 50th birthday. It only stayed up until that December, but the Haring tribute started a whole series for the Bowery Wall.
The next year, Deitch commissioned a work from the Brazilian duo Os Gemeos, and in 2010 the wall was turned over to Shepard Fairey, with a casing placed over the slab to protect the previous piece. Unfortunately, the mural was targeted almost immediately by vandals, culminating in the casing being smashed through to reveal the Gemeos mural still painted underneath.
Eventually Dietch moved to LA and passed on curation duties to The Hole, which began a regular rotation of artists with displays lasting four to six months, including Kenny Scharf, FAILE, Retna, Aiko, Crash, Maya Hayuk and Ron English. Tony Goldman died in 2012, but his company continues to support the Bowery art wall.
Know Before You Go
The closest subway station is 2nd Avenue on the F line but the Broadway-Lafayette station (B/D/F/M/6) is also a short walk west down Houston Street.