Spring Street side of 190 Bowery, SoHo, Manhattan

January 2001

This building has a remarkable amount of graffiti on it. One of the caretakers came out to see me as soon as I started, but decided to let me stay. He warned me to look out for the owner who, he said, was enraged by graffiti. Since he didn’t describe the owner, his warning wasn’t very helpful. A lot of police cars kept circling the area, which made for a fairly tense experience. I kept on having to walk away and then come back.

An African-American couple from Philadelphia stopped by, and the man told me that he used to live in New York. He told the woman, “See, this is why I love New York – this kind of thing is always happening here.” He told her all about other illegal public art projects, like the little American flags that someone stuck in the dog shits on the street during the last Gulf War and the guy who glued old plates to the bottoms of the lampposts. They made a passerby take a photograph of themselves with me.

The painting is based on Thomas Fearnley’s Old Birch Tree at the Sognefiord. It lasted for almost two years before it got tagged.