Street Artist Gilf Wraps 190 Bowery In ‘Gentrification’

May 26, 2015 | Bucky Turco

In continuation of her “Gentrification in progress” series, street artist Gilf broke out her signature yellow crime scene tape and wrapped it around 190 Bowery sometime late last night. It survived the early morning, but by 10:30AM, the installation was removed and put in a trashcan. She has previously brought attention to 5Pointz and Pearl Paint, amongst other storied locations that have gone the way of development.

The landmark building at 190 Bowery recently sold for $55 million, nearly five decades after photographer Jay Maisel purchased it. “The Maisel building, which has stood as a cultural holdout for decades, will now house a company that can justify the multi-million dollar sale. While there’s a gallery there at the moment, it will likely be a boring global chain. I’m just so sad to watch NYC unravel into a culturally threadbare mall,” said the artist to ANIMAL.

Ironically, when Maisel first bought the building in 1966 for $102,000, it was the lensman who was, in effect, gentrifying the area. At that time, the Bowery was mostly a decaying neighborhood and artists were like urban pioneers. A New York Times article from that year reported on the purchase of 190 and what it meant:

The Bowery is slowly changing. Theaters and antique stores are to be found on the dismal thoroughfare and at the intersection Cooper Square at its northern end. Artists who once only rented lofts on the Bowery have begun to purchase and convert buildings; the number of studios increases yearly.

Just down the block, John Giorno settled at 222 Bowery, attracting the likes of Mark Rothko, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol and William S. Burroughs. Giorno once described the building as “an Italian-inspired palazzo for the beggars.”

Contrast that with this scene, from last week: highfalutin curator/art dealer Vito Schnabel held an exhibition at the space that was supposed to be open to the public, but instead turned into a private shit-show for stuffy rich people, proving that life on the Bowery is an endless circle of tragic comedies.

(Photo: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)