An Artist Called West 01 – Faces of the LES Tenement Museum

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This impressive painting on Orchard Street, between Delancey and Broome streets, in the Lower East Side, is by one of the all-time great artists to emerge from the New York City graf underground. The artist is called West One (or West 01). These days he calls the Upper West Side his home, but West One keeps a studio in Brooklyn. He started writing graf on NYC subways in the mid 1980’s and distinguished himself by painting in a crisp letter style dubbed “Broadway Style.” In a recent interview, West One cited the work of graf superstars Zephyr, Revolt, Skeme and Dez as inspiration early in his career. These days his work, like the painting pictured above, are mural-like works that seem far removed from the graf-writing style. The image is an homage to the diverse ethnic history of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It’s fitting that this West One painting is supported by, and placed in front of, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. What was the worst slum in America for decades, and an ethnic enclave for generations of Jewish, German, Latino and Chinese immigrants (as well as people from many other countries) is now Manhattan’s hippest, hottest nabe. The Lower East Side’s slummy streets are increasingly home to a luxury real estate market that has spawned multimillion-dollar apartments, condos and lofts.

Ivan Corsa Photo