With less than a month to go until Election Day, interest in the 2016 presidential race has reached a fever pitch, and New Yorkers’ politics are spilling onto the city’s walls, sidewalks and lamp posts.
Republican Donald Trump has been caricatured as everything from Humpty Dumpty in a mural in Bushwick to a Simpsons character in Williamsburg. Democrat Hillary Clinton’s face has shown up in pop-art displays on Williamsburg sidewalks and as a Pokémon character in SoHo.
Street artists across the city have been capturing the election with spray-paint, stencils, stickers and chalk. Both candidates have been popular sources of inspiration — but at this point, Trump is clearly the bigger target.
“He’s great material for comedy, you know, a circus-like type,” Hani Shihada, a 57-year-old sidewalk artist, said of Trump.
Shihada has also taken a more positive approach to the election, creating a chalk portrait in Washington Square Park in 2015 of Hillary Clinton as the face of the iconic Rosie the Riveter.
Shihada said political street art should be thought-provoking.
“I like the idea of making people think and figuring things out for themselves, because I think change comes from within and you can’t force it on people,” Shihada said.
During the primary season, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders seemed to be the object of much affection on the streets, and his presence can still be seen on tattered posters and faded stickers around the city.
While Clinton now appears to be the clear frontrunner to win New York in the general election, she hasn't always been portrayed positively by street artists.
On the corner of Wooster and Grand streets in SoHo, for example, a series of sidewalk stencils from artist Caramba show Clinton and Trump puckering up to kiss one another.
Since Clinton’s victory over Sanders, however, much of the focus has shifted to Trump, whose portrayals by street artists have been overwhelmingly negative.
Take, for instance, artist Ron English’s “Trumpty Dumpty,” a mural of a flushed and self-satisfied Trump with a non-existent torso overlooking the Jefferson Street L train subway entrance in Bushwick.
English in particular has shown a unique dedication to vilifying the businessman-turned-politician, creating Trumpty Dumpty figurines and even collaborating on a music video characterizing Trump as “a narcisissy, and fame junkie / Was gonna build a wall, like Humpty Dumpty.”
Rafael Schacter, author of two books on street art, said street artists are likely focused on Trump because of what he represents.
“He’s the perfect bad guy,” Schacter said. “He’s kind of the epitome of the neo-liberal gentrifier. He’s a property developer, and they’re the scourge of street artists.”