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Street Artist Wraps Lower East Side Building in 'Gentrification' Tape

By Rebeca Ibarra | May 27, 2015 12:37pm

A Brooklyn-based street artist and activist who's been cordoning off city streets and buildings with yellow caution tape reading "GENTRIFICATION IN PROGRESS" struck again in Nolita and Williamsburg.

Ann Lewis, who goes by the artist name Gilf!, started her night wrapping tape around the J. Crew and the soon-to-be Apple store in Williamsburg before heading over the bridge to Nolita and wrapping both entrances of landmarked 190 Bowery in her signature tape at about 2 a.m. Tuesday morning.

"The big inspiration for last night was actually the Night Bazaar in Brooklyn, because I found out it was being turned into a BMW dealership and it floored me," Lewis told DNAinfo New York. "The Night Bazaar was the perfect example of what a community should be."

BMW told DNAinfo earlier this month that it does not have plans to open a dealership in the space.

Lewis, who lives in Bushwick and has been a street artist since 2008, used to live in Nolita and has seen small businesses priced out of the neighborhood by corporations that can afford paying millions of dollars for small spaces, she said.

"I have friends who still own places there and are barely hanging on," she said. "I don't know what they're going to do."

Her recent target, the run-down, graffiti-covered building on the corner of Bowery and Spring Street, was purchased by photographer Jay Maisel for $102,000 49 years ago and was sold earlier this year for $55 million.

Last year, Lewis set up art installations in 5 Pointz, Queens after the graffiti artist-haven was taken over by developers and at Pear Paint store on Canal Street.

The artist took a break from working on an upcoming art show in Chelsea to tape up 190 Bowery and the other sites. Her Nolita art installation was up until about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. Most of her work only lasts a few hours before it's removed.

"I’m used to things being ephemeral," she said. "The installation disappears just as these businesses disappear and how New York is vanishing."