A “garden” has sprung up on Chrystie Street, with vibrant blooms that bring color to the block once many of the shops have closed for the night.
But you won’t find the flowers in an abandoned lot, an empty alleyway or even in a sidewalk planter — they’re painted on the rolling metal gates of three restaurants located between Hester and Grand streets.
The murals are part of a Lower East Side public art initiative called the 100 Gates Project, which began last summer but has ramped up its output in the past couple of months. Designs so far have included everything from abstract designs to images of animals and farm scenes.
The 100 Gates Project is the brainchild of artist Billy Rohan, who envisioned turning the neighborhood into an “open-air gallery” that would emerge after businesses close for the day.
“People have been painting these things in New York for years and years, but usually they just get tagged up with graffiti on them,” Rohan previously told DNAinfo.
“It’d be a really cool thing to show people that these really old roll gates could actually have new life in them when you put art on them,” he added. “They become kind of like a metal canvas, essentially.”
The number of murals has more than tripled since June — to about 34 — thanks to a $30,000 grant from the city’s Small Business Services and the Economic Development Corporation as well as the support of the Lower East Side Business Improvement District, which handles the day-to-day operations.
Even more pieces are on their way — about 25 murals are currently in the pipeline, according to Natalie Raben, the BID’s director of marketing and communications.
For the latest iteration of the 100 Gates Project, the LES BID put out a call for artists and connected them with participating businesses. Together, they collaborated on the murals’ designs. Each gate has received $300 to cover the cost for supplies, Raben said, and any money left over goes to the artist.
Art-lovers can check out the murals themselves, which are on display when the businesses are closed. To find a mural, just check out the LES BID’s map of painted gates below.