The 191st Street tunnel which connects Saint Nicholas Ave. with Broadway on the 1 Line in Washington Heights is now home to five dazzling, giant murals that lines the 900 foot walkway with color and style. The NYC Department of Transportation showed off its latest “street beautification project”. I went the second it was open to the public and heard the clapping from walkers before I even hit the tunnel area. What a great day for the DOT and New Yorkers.
Previously this was a dark grim cave. The DOT selected four artists and one artist team out of 150 applicants. (Outside art professionals, including Sandra Betancourt from the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance and street artist Alan Ket, were on the committee.) On the Broadway side are Andrea von Bujdoss “Queen Andrea” with inspiration phrases and affirmations entitled “Prismatic Power Phrases,” to cheer up walkers.
Then as you enter the tunnel a piece by WANE COD welcomes you. WANE COD is an old school burner from the 80’s who has been getting up ever since. His trucks and pieces can be found all over the city and he represents the Bronx where he was born and raised.
Next you will find stripes and shapes entitled ”Caterpillar Time Travel,” by Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn. Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn are a Baltimore based artist team striving to transform public spaces into colorful and vibrant experiences. They have been collaborating on large-scale murals, installations and sculpture since 2001. They have participated in several street art showcases, including Baltimore’s Open Walls, Atlanta’s Living Walls Conference, Rochester’s Wall Therapy, Richmond’s RVA Street Art Festival, and most recently, POW! WOW! Hawaii.
The tunnel project ends with the master Fernando Carlo “Cope2″ who is known throughout the world as one of the first and best graffiti masters. His piece is appropriately entitled “Art Is Life.”
The teams put in 21 hour days, for many days to complete the project. Community Board 12 chair George Fernandez Jr. called the tunnel a “jewel” for Washington Heights. He adds the hard work the board, DOT and community put into transforming it from being “scary” to its current state of beauty is to be preserved. “We want this tunnel to stay beautiful.” Rightfully so. This was tons of work for the artists and needs to be respected. Enjoy your commute!
Thanks to Leanna Valente for her work on this. Check out her upcoming book on street art and graffiti. @leannav on Instagram.