Here in SoHo, where many businesses remain closed because of Covid-19, something remarkable is happening. Instead of being throttled by the fusillades of bare plywood protecting windows and doors, pedestrians are instead being treated to a dreamscape of art. Graffiti, portraits, poetry, and posters have lit up the neighborhood like an open air museum. No, it’s not quite the MET, but it’s still pretty thrilling.
Si Golraine, a versatile artist who hails from Ukraine, is one of the creators with work currently on display. Inspired by her boyfriend’s idea that all the wood barricades resembled “empty canvases,” she was moved to act. At first she just tacked up paper paintings around the neighborhood she made at home. But then, emboldened by the experience, she decided to come back with “a ladder, buckets of paint, and supplies.” She was going to try her brushstrokes in the field. And despite knowing that anything she left would probably be fleeting, she went off to work.
According to her website, Ms. Golraine “views everything in her environment as a potential ingredient” in the making her of art. It’s no surprise then how easily the paintings she finished at the corner of Broome and Lafayette Streets above dovetail with the surrounding cast-iron facade. By choosing orange as her primary color, she imbued her creation with a seamless flow that complements the building’s peachy lentil, dentil, and Corinthian capital palette. In the low light of coming dusk, both her painting and the building glowed a warm tea rose. It was magical.
Also conscious of SoHo’s past, Ms. Golraine hopes that her murals might contribute to that “raw feeling of art [the neighborhood] was known for in its heyday — before commercialism destroyed its original character.” But, if they only connect with a few passers-by, she would still feel happy having turned “boarded up windows” into “flowers in the desert.”
Photo by Rick Stachura. September 4, 2020.
The facade of 194-202 Lafayette Street (aka 416-422 Broome Street) in SoHo.