Yesterday I set out to see the graffiti wall on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Located on the corner of East Houston Street and Bowery, it displays work by well-known street artists. I’d been so captivated by the recent work from afar that I had to see it up close.
Owned by Tony Goldman, real estate investor, the Houston/Bowery Mural Wall has commissioned public art works for a number of years. Artwork after artwork has been displayed here; it’s a living creative kaleidoscope. In November 2010, Kenny Scharf spray-painted a colourful cartoonish work, which was covered up in June 2011 by a large black-and-white photo print by French artist, J.R. Four months later, that photo was pasted over by this current work by artist collective Faile. It is the graffiti wall’s seventh project.
Looking at it closely, what I assumed to be poster was actually a collage made of torn graphics. I stood there for a while, seeing all kinds of pops. The longer I stared, the more I saw.
Faile is made up of two artists, Patrick McNeil and Patrick Mullen, who have been collaborating on works since 1998.
The New York artist collaboration Faile… takes inspiration from the detritus of city walls. The decay of advertising and flyposting provides a platform to present their own take on the world of found imagery. These recognisable pop culture images are visible in their large-scale canvas works, representing a rich collage of the urban experience. In the spirit of collage, they’ve diversified into other areas including sculpture and bookmaking yet their work remains heavily indebted to printmaking and stencilling traditions.
Their first projects on the street had the title A Life, of which their name Faile was an anagram. The name was also an acknowledgement of the inevitable process of deterioration that an artwork suffered when exposed to the elements. (Tate Modern UK)
<Faile was invited to collaborate with five other artists in the Tate Modern’s first commissioned use of its river-facing façade. This helped legitimize the value of street art. (2008)>
For the Houston/Bowery mural, Faile used graphics from their old and new works. Part of the mashup: silkscreens, vintage Sci-Fi graphics, logos (including Lufthansa’s), Japanese hieroglyphs, and other iconography.
The collage started as a concept on paper. From there, large-scale pieces were printed, hand painted, and then torn at Faile’s studio. With the help of a boom lift , individual parts were pasted to replace J.R.’s work. Gaps were filled in with paint to create a polished piece.
The artwork was created in October 2011, but some parts have already been defaced.
Displayed within the collage is the text, “With Love and Kisses, Nothing Lasts Forever,” perhaps in response to those who have been known to ruin works with tags within days of it being pasted. This work will inevitably be replaced with work by the next hot street artist. For now, I hope the show stopper stays put.
NB: Faile place works up regularly in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A couple of recent works are on display on Wyeth Street: 1. “I used to be worth something.”
2. A 16-foot-high industrial doorway is decorated in stenciled grocery posters. The duo collaborated with another street artist, Bäst, on the collection of works below.
To see more of their work, in studio and on location, see their website: