LOWER EAST SIDE — An ambitious art project years in the making is at last fulfilling its mission of bringing 100 colorful murals to the Lower East Side streets, as the final splash of color is added to the roll-down gate of a beloved neighborhood mainstay.
Founder Billy Rohan launched the “100 Gates Project” in 2014 with the goal of brightening the roll-down gates shielding neighborhood storefronts, pairing local artists with business owners interested in offering their gates as canvases for public art with the help of local nonprofit Lower East Side Partnership.
And next week, more than two years after artists with the project first put spray paint to metal, street artist L’Amour Supreme will complete the 100th and final mural outside the iconic Katz’s Deli — a capstone piece he says is an honor to bring to life.
“You’re providing a service to the community and the neighborhood — it’s not just you doing whatever you want,” said Supreme. “You’re working with a business and you’re going with some sort of design everyone is going to be happy with and is going to beautify the neighborhood.”
Supreme’s psychedelic mural will feature cartoon characters and animated deli foods reminiscent of vintage movie concession commercials that featured dancing foods and drinks — an association he says is an ode to the old-school deli’s enduring place in city history.
“Instead of popcorn and soda, it’s a salami and a pickle and a pastrami sandwich,” he said. “It’s reminiscent of old New York, which Katz’s is, in a slightly re-interpreted modern way.”
Supreme has been hard at work on the mural after-hours — the deli usually closes and rolls down the security gate between 10:30 p.m. and midnight on weeknights — and plans to have it near completion by the end of the week.
The final touches will be added the night of Sept. 14, at a wrap party hosted at Katz’s, just in time for the launch of a special weekend-long art walk hosted by project sponsor Tiger Beer, which helped facilitate the installation of the final murals.
Sept. 15 through 18, locals embarking on the self-guided Art Walk using the project’s digital guide — which also shows the ideal times to see as many of the works as possible — will be able to enjoy $3 Tiger Beer specials when they stop in at participating bars and restaurants, including The Lucky Bee at 252 Broome St. and Mission Cantina at 172 Orchard St.
But Supreme believes the long-lasting impact of the sprawling art project, which set out to beautify the city streets and unify artists and local businesses, is yet to be seen — and he hopes it catches on across the boroughs.
“I think it’s one of those service projects for the neighborhood,” he said. “I don’t think the full impact will be realized until like a year or two from now. From now, hopefully it expands to other neighborhoods.”